Audio Pro’s strategy for its Addon range of wireless speakers has been pretty simple. Nail the design and sound quality for the standard Bluetooth models, then roll out multi-room versions of the same speakers.
It might be simple, but it has proved extremely effective, as numerous What Hi-Fi? Awards shows.
So we’re not surprised by the arrival of the Audio Pro Addon C3. It’s basically the multi-room, wi-fi version of the Addon T3. And it sits below the bigger, also Award-winning Addon C10 MkII in the company's line-up.
From the front it looks almost identical – the 9cm woofer splitting a pair of 75mm tweeters in what we’ve affectionately dubbed Audio Pro’s ‘koala’ configuration (the Coal Black finish doesn’t show the furry association quite as well as Arctic White or Storm Grey).
Like the T3, there’s a rear-firing bass reflex port - although Audio Pro’s engineers have tweaked the C3’s port to give it a more tapered shape, which they claim improves sound quality.
The dimensions are identical as you jump from T3 to C3, and they also share the sophisticated design touches we’ve come to appreciate from Audio Pro. The textured surfaces and embossed leather carry handle are very grown-up for a wireless speaker at this sort of price.
The Audio Pro is a neat package with attractive proportions. It’s properly portable, but couldn’t really be described as light enough to be carted around in a rucksack all day.
The Addon C3 is probably more suited to positioning on a patio, installing in a holiday home or placing on a desktop.
If you want something with more rugged, outdoors credentials, we’d suggest looking at rivals such as the JBL Xtreme 3.
While the addition of wi-fi and multi-room are welcome, Audio Pro has had to make a couple of sacrifices to accommodate them.
Compared to the T3 on which it’s based, the C3 loses the rear USB port and, along with it, the ability to charge a smartphone. In its place you’ll find an ethernet socket for hardwiring the speaker to your home network.
Adding new wireless features has also impacted on battery life. You get around nine hours of playback at 100 per cent volume and up to 15 hours at 50 per cent, compared to 12 and 30 hours respectively with the T3.
It’s not the end of the world, though, especially when you consider most rival multi-room speakers have to be permanently tied to a mains socket.
Compared to other models in its Addon range, the Audio Pro C3 gets a new-look top panel. It’s busier but neatly laid out, with a new source selector button and LED indicator for Bluetooth, wi-fi and its 3.5mm input.
The volume control in the centre has a new vertical design, and the Bluetooth and pairing buttons are now combined into one.
Being a member of Audio Pro’s multi-room family, you also get four preset buttons. These can be assigned to either internet radio stations or any playlists you’ve compiled on your music streaming services.
This means you can get tunes playing without even taking your phone out of your pocket.
Playback is controlled via the Audio Pro Control app for iOS and Android. It’s not quite the seamless experience offered by Sonos’ equivalent app, but neither is it seriously flawed.
Set-up is a painless process, whether you choose a Bluetooth or wi-fi connection. When setting up a multi-room system, the app searches for other Audio Pro speakers in the vicinity on the same network.
From here you can drag-and-drop to group or separate speakers, either in stereo pairs or multi-room zones, and make manual adjustments to bass and treble should you wish.
When you’re controlling music through Audio Pro’s app, there’s a slight delay between tapping a control and the speaker obeying, but in the grand scheme of multi-room apps it’s easy to get along with.
Subscribers to either Spotify or Apple music will need to keep coming out of the app to search their music collection. It’s not the end of the world (those preset buttons come in handy here), but it leaves the whole experience feeling a bit disjointed.
Although there’s no voice assistant directly built-into the C3, Audio Pro has chosen to allow Alexa control through the Alexa app.
Our experience is pleasant enough, but the feature only works with Amazon Music, so subscribers to Spotify, Tidal and others will have to stick with the main app.
Audio Pro has developed a reputation for brilliant-sounding wireless speakers and the C3 is no different.
The level of refinement from such a small package is hugely impressive. It delivers the lead vocal from Chvrches’ Miracle with a beautifully sweet and pure tone. Negative traits such as sibilance and harshness don’t exist in the C3’s sonic vocabulary.
It’s a focused sound but airy and open with it. There’s no fancy 360-degree spread of sound here – the C3 is more direct in its delivery, but it doesn’t have a problem filling a decently sized room with quality sound.
At both high and low volumes the speaker excels, sounding dynamic and punchy when the track demands but also able to slow the pace and communicate in a subtler way should the need arise.
Music sounds natural and the Addon C3 manages to capture the rhythm essence of any track thrown at its feet, from the jumbled path trodden by Alt-J’s Breezeblocks to the more deliberate, probing bassline of SBTRKT’s Higher.
The C3 manages to sound weighty, delving deep and rendering each note with detail and texture. By multi-room speaker standards, this is a remarkably refined performance.
The Addon C3 is another superb addition to Audio Pro’s arsenal of multi-room speakers.
It has taken an existing T3 speaker and repackaged it into a sensational-sounding multi-room proposition that gives rivals, including Sonos, a serious run for their money. And you can’t really ask for more than that.
See all the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winners
Read the Audio Pro Addon C10 MkII review