Under the Radar

Wharfedale Adds the Bluetooth Option

wharfedalecobaltfront

Older readers will remember Wharfedale speakers from hifi audio magazines in the '70s and '80s. The British speaker manufacturer enjoyed an sterling reputation among audiophiles but younger shoppers aren't going to be as familiar with their wares. The company has enjoyed something of a comeback lately with their pretty spectacular designed-in-the-UK/made-in-China Diamond series bookshelf speakers (more to come on those soon).

They've also decided to get into the wireless audio game with the Wharfedale Cobalt, a Bluetooth speaker that retails for $399 but Music Direct currently offers for the bargain price of $199. 

Cobalt flank wood

The unit is 15.5" wide, 7" deep and 7" tall, which requires a bit of table space but the extra width (versus the competition) makes a difference in stereo imaging. The Cobalt that's shipping in the USA comes with a glossy piano black finish that's different (and better) than the wood-grain version that's pictured above.

cobaltback

The unit has an Aux in connection on the back. Both the base and the grille are plastic.

cobaltinthebox

There's a remote control, a supplied audio cable to connect devices without Bluetooth, a power cord, power supply unit and manual included in the box.

Cobalt 02

The Cobalt is definitely pitched to Android users: it features the aptX wireless technology that aims to stream music at the compression rate required by Bluetooth while maintaining audio quality. If you're an Apple user, this won't help you but a lot of topline Android phones and tablets by manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola come with the technology built in.

The device doesn't have enough power to a fuel a giant party but the Cobalt's two 4-inch full-range drivers, Bass Flow port, and 30-watt RMS amplifier do a great job for personal listening in your kitchen or living room.

The Cobalt's Bluetooth technology only allows for one connection at a time and, to break that pairing, you have to actively turn off Bluetooth on your phone or tablet before you can pair a different device. That's going to cause an issue in families that want to share one of these things (be prepared for a lot of "Mom, tell Mike he has to unpair from the Cobalt" complaints).

Does the aptX capability make a big difference? I can't really tell you because I don't have access to an Android device that comes with it. The Cobalt is a good piece of gear at $200 if you're looking for a one-room streaming solution.

 

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