To many people, a £900 soundbar might seem extravagant. At that price you might reasonably expect it to include most, if not all, of the features a soundbar can pack in.
These days, that includes support for Dolby Atmos. It's a feature included on several sub-£1000 soundbars we've heard in the past year from the likes of LG, Philips and Samsung.
There are always exceptions to the rule, however. One of them is our current Award-winner, the Dali Kubik One. It might not have Atmos decoding ability, but it more than makes up for that with its superior sound quality.
Despite the emphasis on ‘bar’, capitalised for effect by the company itself, the Cabasse Stream BAR is a soundbar/subwoofer combo.
As it's lacking support for the immersive Dolby Atmos format, Cabasse is hoping to ride the same wave as the Kubik, justifying its considerable price by offering something more than simply the basic TV sound-boosting function.
As its name suggests, the Stream Bar’s ‘something else’ is its streaming options. With its Stream Control app and built-in wi-fi (plus ethernet socket), it can play music from services such as Deezer, Qobuz, Spotify and Tidal.
DLNA compatibility also allows users to play files (including FLAC and WAV up to 24bit/96kHz) from a NAS or laptop. It also has aptX Bluetooth (with NFC), which can always step in if and when your internet connection is iffy.
Of course, physical connections still have their place when it comes to traditional TV duties, and the Cabasse offers optical, HDMI and 3.5mm inputs. It also has a USB input for playback and a HDMI ARC output to reduce cabling to your TV to just one.
That makes the bar’s rear panel pretty busy - the front is anything but. Cabasse has certainly got this the right way round, and the Stream Bar is one of the more attractive soundbars we’ve seen.
MORE: Best soundbars 2017
More after the break
Physical buttons are ditched in favour of a discreet touch panel. It’s so inconspicuous one might not know it even exists unless you try poking at the glowing power, volume and source symbols. Take that as a confession if you like.
A pebble-shaped remote control is included. Its plastic finish is good enough to check your reflection in the morning, but it collects more fingerprints than a hatchback’s rear window during the school run and the shiny effect is all too easy to spoil.
Still, we can’t deny its handiness - and you’ll need it early on to pair the 100W wireless subwoofer to the bar if, as in our experience, the connection doesn't happen automatically.
Once up and running, the Cabasse makes a good first impression: it sounds big, loud and up for it. While it sounds a little unwilling when pushed near to maximum volume, we find just over half volume (‘56’ to be precise) is more than loud enough to fill our medium-sized listening room.
Even without Dolby Atmos support, the Cabasse has no more problem filling a room than Coldplay do. The mighty scale achieved by its six front- and side-firing drivers and two tweeters is one of its strengths, and you can also add bass power to that list.
We play Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and, when Credence wreaks havoc as an obscuris, the Cabasse’s sub comes into its own. There’s no shortage of low-end substance as he swoops around the city and crashes into buildings.
It lacks a little definition, however, and scenes with plenty of bass tend to highlight the Cabasse’s uneven tonal balance - it is both bottom- and top-heavy, with the midrange a little recessed and hazy.
Voices aren’t as clear or detailed as they are through the Dali Kubik One, and the treble - while biting - sounds a little unrefined. When it comes to outright expression, it doesn't lay a glove on the Dali.
Colin Farrell’s pleas sound less convincing, and the orchestral climax in the background doesn’t have as much impact as we know is there.
MORE: Dali Kubik One review
Streaming Sampha’s (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano via Tidal is a painless experience thanks to the intuitive AWOX Stream Control app. There is warmth in his vocal and the accompanying piano, but the presentation lacks the level of texture, dynamics and richness achieved by its best rivals.
Switch to a live version of Touché Amoré’s Benediction and the meatiness and depth of the electrics is overshadowed by a lack of space and expression. The texture and atmosphere of a live recording are diluted.
Cabasse has accepted a soundbar costing £900 needs to do a little more than boost your TV’s sound, and that it is likely to be treated as an all-encompassing music system for both movies and music.
However, in this instance it hasn’t quite been able to follow that concept through with the necessary performance.
The Stream Bar looks lovely, is better connected and offers more streaming options than a lot of other soundbars, and it can completely fill a room with sound. But it falls short in the sonic areas necessary to truly convince.
See all our Cabasse reviews