Nakamichi Dragon Lily review

A love-it-or-hate-it design with a performance that is just about okay Tested at £240

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Our Verdict

A love-it-or-hate-it design with a performance that is just about okay

For

  • Well-balanced sound
  • Taut, controlled bass
  • Decent detail levels

Against

  • Narrow, closed-in character
  • Poor dynamics
  • Needs careful placement

There’s something unique about the way the Nakamichi Dragon Lily looks. If you want a speaker to stir some debate on design, you’ve certainly got a strong contender here.

Build and design

Our review sample is a striking pink, but it’s available in a more muted black or silver.

Of course, you should never judge a wireless speaker by its questionable design – and when it comes to sound, the Dragon Lily isn’t bad at all.

It’s rather large, which allows it to pack some fairly powerful drivers, offering a 2.1 system driven by 75-watts of amplification.

Performance

For best results place it on a sturdy surface, as vibrations can cause the bass to sound bloated

For best results place it on a sturdy surface, as vibrations can cause the bass to sound bloated

This Nakamichi will go loud, although its design does limit how big or wide it sounds. Even at high volume it sounds narrow and closed in, and doesn’t come close to its competitors when it comes to producing a room-filling sound.

Sonic presentation is largely well balanced though, and that sub produces a warm, taut rumble in the low-end that keeps a good handle on Chase & Status’s bass-tastic Eastern Jam.

We detect a slight muddiness in the lower mid-range, particularly during more busy recordings, but it didn’t cause much distraction.

It sounds better than you’d expect from looking at it, offering a well-balanced and detailed performance

It sounds better than you’d expect from looking at it, offering a well-balanced and detailed performance

But you will need to be careful where you place the Dragon Lily – any surface with too much vibration can loosen up that bass response, and make it sound a bit bloated and uncontrolled.

Dynamically, we found it lacking the rhythmic ability of something like the Monitor Audio S300. The Dragon Lily is not hugely exciting to listen to, nor the last word in refinement.

At £240 we expect more.

Features

Consider if the design appeals to you – but it’s to blame for a lot of the speaker’s audio sacrifices

Consider if the design appeals to you – but it’s to blame for a lot of the speaker’s audio sacrifices

You do get plenty of connectivity for your money, though.

There’s the choice of Bluetooth streaming and pairing via one-touch NFC, Nakamichi’s proprietary Air Cast wi-fi playback (which can be set up over a home network or via a one-to-one connection with the Dragon Lily) and hard-wiring through the 3.5mm jack or USB port (iOS devices and USB drives only).

The USB port is also able to charge your device as well. You control the source, as well as track and volume, via the included remote or by using the touch-panel on the top of the Dragon Lily, which is responsive and nice to use.

How you choose to listen will be down to personal preference – we find very little difference in performance between the two streaming methods, so lean towards Bluetooth purely for its set-up convenience.

It’s worth trying both to see which you prefer though – Android users will experience a little more faff with the wi-fi method as you will need to download a UPnP player app such as BubbleUPnP.

Verdict

We can’t forgive any kit for putting design ahead of performance but that’s what Nakamichi has done, creating a narrow and closed-in sound in exchange for a design we can’t imagine appealing to all.

It underwhelms at its price, particularly when considered against much better – and in some cases, cheaper – competitors that offer a more refined, detailed and full-bodied sound.