Speaker reviews, back in the day, too rarely spent a couple of paragraphs discussing wool.
Somewhat unpredictably, the arrival of Bluetooth speakers also heralded a gaggle of natural fibre-laden portables.
Joining Scandinavian brands and fellow natural-fabric lovers Libratone and Vifa, the Cambridge Audio Yoyo (S) sports a jacket of wool. And lovely and cosy it looks, too.
For the record, the yarn is by Yorkshire weavers Marton Mills, and it’s worsted wool, meaning, of course, that all the fibres run in the same direction.
Pay attention all –somewhere there is a wool enthusiast wading through the sound performance section of this review.
One question that springs to mind whenever we encounter fabric-covered hi-fi is, of course, ‘why’? Cambridge Audio states that its bespoke fabric is ‘acoustically transparent’ as well as ‘treated to repel dirt, water and unnecessary wear and tear’.
All of these points strike us as valid, so let’s question no further and take a look beneath the Yoyo’s cover.
Even though the (S) in its model names stands for small, the Yoyo is one of the larger portables at its price-point – it weighs in at a-not-insignificant 1.2kg – hence its ability to house a long list of audio wizardry.
The built-in amplification drives a pair of full-range speakers, a subwoofer and – round the back – a passive radiator.
In addition to Bluetooth (with the option of using NFC to connect), connectivity options comprise an aux-in and a USB port, which is also ready to charge ailing mobile devices.
More after the break
The Yoyo (S) itself claims it’ll play for an impressive 14 hours – less, of course, should you have to decant some of that energy over to your phone.
Talking of audio wizardry, the Yoyo (S) is magic. What we’re talking about here is gesture control – swipe your hand, from left to right across, but not touching, the control panel and music starts playing.
Repeat the movement to skip track. Reverse direction and the music stops. This is great fun, although we did occasionally find we unintentionally initiated a request – when, for example, picking up a playing Yoyo.
How frequently you use this feature probably relates to how often you combine your music listening with a bit of messy food prep. You will, though, demonstrate it every time someone calls round – that we can guarantee.
You can also access the bulk of the Yoyo (S)’s features via its top-situated control panel, which is smartly rubberised, though the black-on-black icons mean you can end up tilting the unit to help catch the light and decide on your next finger prod.
A speakerphone, synchronised volume control and EU, UK, and US plug adapters top-off an impressively specified speaker system. And Cambridge Audio expertly packages your Yoyo and its accessories in a smart presentation box.
First tester out of the woolly Bluetooth blanket is Leonard Cohen. His grave You Want It Darker is a perfect starter for our dark grey Yoyo and the result is fine. And we mean fine as in ‘excellent’ not fine as in ‘adequate’.
The Yoyo (S) determinedly propels the bass line, staying musical and taut. Cohen’s voice sounds great, too – good detail helps expose the carved ridges of emotion in his baritone and this demonstrative delivery grabs, and holds, your attention.
The Yoyo’s top end is as sweet as its lower end is melodious. Sharp treble is too common in portable Bluetooth speakers, but Cambridge Audio’s tuning team keeps things sounding pleasant with even dynamically challenged MP3s.
Want us to be hyper critical? Okay, we’d accept a little more top-end sparkle but, on the other hand, the tuning makes sense – this speaker will no doubt spend many of its waking hours playing background tunes, sound-tracking home life and generally not making a sonic nuisance of itself.
Don’t think, though, that the Yoyo (S) is all about background. Crank the volume and it’ll go nice and loud, remaining impressively composed and becoming the musical life and soul of a party.
Prepare yourself, and possibly your neighbours, for a fair chunk of bass from that speaker set-up – sonically this unit leans more towards the big-sounding JBL Charge 2+, as opposed to the leaner, more fleet of foot UE Roll 2.
MORE: UE Roll 2 review
Promoted as portable, the Cambridge Audio Yoyo (S) is just that. But it’s one kilo-plus weight means it’s easier to port it around the rooms of your house than tuck it into the pockets of your rucksack.
Its luxurious yarn finish also feels like a material worth protecting from the elements – even if sheep seem to survive perfectly well in the foulest of weather.
Wherever you listen to it, though, it’ll offer a big, detailed and rich sound.
We sense that a lot of thought has gone into the Yoyo (S), and the care and attention should pay dividends – we anticipate a stampede of interest in this latest woolly number to join the growing ranks of fabric-covered Bluetooth portables.
See all our Cambridge Audio reviews