No Elipson W35 review could possibly start without a nod to the novel design. It’s not everyday you meet a spherical speaker but, despite a bit of whimsy to the look, make no mistake that Elipson is a serious audio brand. The French hi-fi specialist has aimed for the W35 to be not just the best-looking but also the best multi-room speaker for the money.
In the Elipson W35’s way stand the similarly priced Naim Mu-so Qb 2 and more premium Naim Mu-so 2 as well as the cheaper and slightly different approach of Sonos speakers, such as a pair of Sonos Ones.
Unlike the Sonos One option, though, the Elipson W35 will work as a stereo speaker all alone. Buy a second W35, however, and you can turn the two globes into a more powerful stereo pair or put them in different rooms around the house for independent playback. Complete with a wide range of stylish stands and even wall and ceiling mounts, it would be easy enough to fill your home with them.
Elipson W35 review: price, release date & features
The Elipson W35 was launched at the tail end of 2019 but, with limited early runs, has only been available to buy more recently in the UK and Europe. Each of the spherical speakers comes in at £799/€799. There are specially-made accessories in the shape of the Tripod Stand (£149/€149), available in a choice of two colours; as well as a single-pole Speaker Stand (£149/€149), both of which bolt directly to the base of the W35.
The Ceiling Support (£49/€49) enables you to hang the W35 like a chandelier instead, and the Wall Mount (£79/€79) is the no-hands approach. If none of these options suits your fancy, then the W35 has a flat bottom and a set of small rubber feet as standard, so that you can sit it on any piece of furniture (that is able to cope with a 35cm globe) without too much worry about unwanted vibrations.
While it’s possible to connect wired sources for local playback through the optical and 3.5mm connections on the underside, this audio design from Elipson seems very much focused at a wireless approach.
As such, there’s built-in compatibility for both Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2, and the Elipson app also enables you to associate your TuneIn, iHeart Radio, Tidal, Deezer and Napster accounts for playback over Wi-Fi to maximum. For everything else, there’s Bluetooth v4.0 with aptX HD for up to 24-bit/44.1 kHz audio stream quality.
Elipson W35 review: sound quality
Inside the W35 are two sideways-facing speaker driver pairs, each made up of a 1-inch tweeter for the high frequency sounds and 6.5in mid-woofer for the midrange and bass. That’s some pretty sizeable drive units for a wireless speaker for this kind of money, backed up with 350W of amplification. Indeed, those mid/bass woofers have been built with an even larger space and magnet than usual, for as much freedom and ease of movement as possible. The idea is to create a more refined and granular control.
With all that behind it, one might expect to be hit with a wall of sound, but the sideways firing of the audio lends all that sonic oomph a very different effect. Instead, what you get is a healthy spread throughout almost any but the largest of rooms, and all without becoming beholden to any fussy positioning either. This is a speaker that fits easily around your space as you choose to have it.
Listening to electronic music, the layout of all the different samples feels broad and carefully placed into the soundstage and less like they’re all emanating from a single point as you might get from other wireless speakers. Such is the speaker arrangement that the sound is slightly better when not sitting straight on to the W35. The snares and cymbals of the drum beats feel more aligned when one of the driver pairs is dominant.
There’s plenty at the bottom end to enjoy too, although be careful not to place the W35 right in the corners of your room. While there’s lots of weight to the bass, it’s much more diffuse in nature than really punchy or tight and that will only increase the more you tuck the W35 away.
The spaciousness of the sound and its competent tonal balance can make for some enjoyable and revealing detail to your music, particularly when tracks are uncomplicated. Again, it’s the cleaner audio of electronic music that seems to fare better with its more precise sounds. When given time to breathe, there’s a good feel of texture to synths and samples and you’ll certainly hear new qualities to your tunes when using the W35s.
Unfortunately, the quality starts to break down a bit for busier tracks and genres. In the main, our rock and band-based listening – and to a degree, classical too – felt less defined and rhythmic. The music from the different parts of this wireless speaker don’t feel like it knits together as well as others, and consequently it doesn’t always sound quite as clean, clipped and precise as the very best on the market.
Elipson W35 review: design & usability
While the W35 might just lack that last few percent of audio refinement, Elipson has left nothing wanting on looks. This 9.5kg, steel grey sphere is a lovely object to have in your life. At 35cm in diameter and sitting atop the Elipson Tripod, with its silver oak or walnut wood legs, it’s both alluring and unusual and we’d challenge anyone not to comment on it the minute they walk into the room.
All of the physical inputs are tucked neatly away underneath and behind, and there’s some cable tidying features which will keep any wires hidden nicely by one of the legs of the stand. Buttons are kept to a minimum along a short length of the anodised aluminium strip along the centre. It’s otherwise just an LED light (which changes colour depending upon the input type) to greet you, along with the Elipson logo in white. Grey mesh fabric covers the two side speaker enclosures and the overall effect is as much one of sculpture as anything else.
There’s a small remote control which matches the design but in all likelihood, you’ll be using the Elipson app from a mobile device to control playback. The app ticks all the boxes for functionality, except for Chromecast, and while operation isn’t always cashmere smooth, the software is largely good enough to get the job done, even if there is the odd moment of stickiness.
The app sometimes needs a little jog to find the speaker and it doesn’t play nice with every single page and function of all the different music services it hosts but it’s doubtless something that will get ironed out as the updates come in. All the major functions are nicely handled, though, including the switching of the speakers from two channels to one channel when using two W35s in tandem as a stereo pair.
Elipson W35 review: Verdict
This is a great-looking wireless speaker with an excellent sense of scale, both physically and sonically. Its aesthetics make a statement that few will dislike and, even if, for audio, that statement is not quite as strong, its size and shape make for an enjoyable sense of weight and spread nonetheless.
It covers almost all user needs for functionality in terms of both inputs, built-in streaming services and the big wireless standards. We wouldn’t be surprised to see voice assistance arriving in this form factor from Elipson in the near future either.
For audio purists, there are wireless speakers at this price - such as those from Naim - with sound that offers more bite but you won’t find anything with quite as much home decor appeal as what Elipson has dreamed up here. When the French company can give us that extra step up in wireless speaker sound, then they’ll have something truly disruptive on their hands.