What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 11 Aug 2011, 2:37pm

Roth Oli 10

Tested at £90
80100
4

Fine offering but competition is fierce: investigate if space is at a premium

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For

  • Compact and stylish
  • suitable for a tight space
  • fast, detailed

Against

  • Lacks bass weight and depth
  • need a bit more punch and scale

Roth is a company with impressive previous for shaking up the establishment. First it was iPod docks thanks to its penchant for eye-catching valves, then it was the budget stereo speaker market with the Oli 1s.

Roth is hoping to do it all again with those speakers’ successors, the Oli 10s.

The gist remains the same; a neat, compact pair of bookshelf speakers for around £100. Certainly the build quality remains high. A choice of black or birds-eye maple finishes is available and the curved cabinet feels solid and looks smart.

Fast and entertaining
Listening to Friendly Fires’ Live Those Days Tonight, the Roths are a fast, entertaining listen. Drums rattle along at pace, and there’s good attention to detail, while vocals sound clear and realistic.

With the speakers sitting on our reference budget stands in plenty of space, they do, predictably, sound lightweight. This helps keep the speed up but doesn’t help when it comes to delivering bass depth or weight.

We’ll have to make do without serious depth but push the speakers back within six inches or so of a wall and you can find plenty more weight, as SBTRKT’s Wildfire helps demonstrate.

If you’re tight on space and need something to sound its best up against a wall, you’re in luck here.

Just lacking a touch of bass punch
But this boost to the bass can’t do the same for out and out dynamics. Compared with the best around at this price-point, the Oli 10 speakers still want for a little more punch.

The diminutive cabinets can’t deliver the scale and dynamism of price rivals, sounding smaller and less powerful.

For upgrading a micro system, or if they need to go up against a wall, the Oli 10s deserve consideration. But the standard available for this sort of money is seriously high, and for outright sonic performance there are better options.

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