Cambridge Audio have dominated the portable Bluetooth speaker market for a few years now, their ‘Go’ and ‘G2’ speakers picking up a host of admirers and plaudits within the industry since their initial release. Hoping to continue this run of good form is the latest from the London-based company, the G5. Will Cambridge continue to impress…?
As is probably obvious from the name, the G5 is the bigger brother of the G2 speaker, and is the largest portable Bluetooth speaker in Cambridge’s range. Rather than the squat design of the G2, the G5 has a tall and thin cabinet, and is actually closer in design to the award-winning Go. A full-length metal grille covers its fascia, whilst a leather-effect rear gives the portable G5 a grippy rear surface as well as adding a touch of class to the design. Sat in a row along the top of the unit are power, input select, volume and call-answering buttons, the last one a handy little option that the G2 also shares.
Cambridge have fitted a 3.5mm socket to the rear for non-Bluetooth enabled devices, and a USB connection also makes an appearance, although this is specifically for charging devices on the go (very handy!), rather than for playback. One of the neatest features can be found on the G5’s rear in the form of a line output. Simply connect from this socket into a hi-fi amplifier and the G5 acts as a Bluetooth receiver, allowing playback from all of the usual devices but playing back through ‘proper’ hi-fi speakers instead.
A battery life of up to 24 hours on a medium volume from a single charge is higher than the average for a device of this size, and Cambridge have also vouched for the G5 to give around 14 hours when playing at full volume. For those that clamour for even greater performance again, two G5’s can be grouped into stereo pairs, giving extra kick and proper stereo separation – ideal in a larger room or for parties.
Where the G5 really improves upon both of Cambridge’s smaller models is in its audio hardware. Cambridge have opted for a stereo speaker setup, using twin drivers, as well as twin bass radiators to ensure a full-bodied, well-separated sound. A Class-D amplifier ensures that these drive units are adequately powered, and that energy efficiency isn’t sacrificed in the pursuit of great sound at decent volumes, which is how Cambridge have acheived such high battery life figures despite kicking out plenty of oomph.
In listening tests the G5 continued to impress, giving us a brilliant rendition of Radiohead’s Identikit from latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool. The percussive opening had good body to it, the passive bass radiators adding weight to the sound that belied the skinny enclosure’s size. As things start to thicken out during the track’s middle section, the G5 managed to keep things in check, separating the layered vocals of the choir from the synths that back them and generally making things easy to follow. The music was also delivered with real punch and a sense of excitement. Tracks never tended to plod along, always sounding engaging and, most importantly, fun.
The sense of easy power handling was probably what stuck out the most, with the G5 not suffering from the shut-in, boxy sound ‘quality’ that some smaller and cheaper speakers come up with when faced with complex passages of music. At both high and low volumes the G5 was never thrown from its stride, maintaining the same sense of ease and enjoyment whatever the weather. It certainly wasn’t about to trip up our demo room hi-fi, but it was excellent in relation to its peergroup.
It would have been unusual if Cambridge had managed to mess things up with the G5, and true to form, the British brand have made another brilliant Bluetooth speaker. Small enough to be truly portable with a sound that is almost without contest at the price point, Cambridge have every reason to be proud of another job very well done. Pop in store to check it out for yourself!
Author: Chris, Liverpool store