Review: NudeAudio Studio 5
Led by the former owner and senior designer of Gear4, NudeAudio started releasing speakers last year. Its first range consisted of three battery-powered Bluetooth units: Move S, Move M, and Move L. All three were either good or very good, with Move L rating the best of the bunch. Now the company has released its first stationary home speaker, Studio 5 ($180), which is physically larger than any members of the Move family. While it's also a Bluetooth speaker, it takes on a totally different, more mature design aesthetic, and includes a Lightning connector for audio playback and charging of newer iPhones and iPods.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the softly curved, rounded rectangles and squares of its previous speakers, but NudeAudio went with a fancier approach this time. Studio 5 is 6” tall, with an amorphous, asymmetrical shape and offset Lightning dock. Except for a white plastic base at the bottom, around three-quarters of the speaker’s outer edge is covered in grey fabric. The back is a a smooth, curved piece of matte plastic a shade or two lighter than the fabric. There, you’ll find a bass port, three-position bass adjustment knob, aux-in port, and power supply port for the 16V wall adapter that’s included with the speaker. Unlike the Move systems, there’s no battery inside.
On top of Studio 5 is a flat sheet of the same plastic. Slightly right of center, you’ll find the Lightning dock in the center of a 3” brushed metal disc; a much smaller Bluetooth button is closer to the edge. As we’ve come to expect but not appreciate, the Lightning plug is surrounded by plastic in a manner that prevents it from being used with cases—an issue that has crippled the appeal of Lightning-only speakers we’ve tested. If you do choose to dock your iPod or iPhone, you’ll find that the plastic ridge holding the Lightning plug moves back and forth, and that there’s a clear, 2” tall plastic support behind it. Additionally, the silver circle serves as a three-function button, with volume down and up on the left and right sides, respectively, and play/pause at the bottom.
Plugging an iPhone or iPod in lets it charge as it plays music. The other option is Bluetooth wireless streaming. Two Bluetooth devices can be paired with Studio 5 at the same time, so that either can initiate music playback. If you try to play from one while the other is already streaming, it may cause audio interference, but we found it worked just fine otherwise.
Inside Studio 5 are a 3” subwoofer and two drivers covering the mids and highs. We tested the audio against Soundfreaq’s Sound Kick, a less expensive but still extremely impressive speaker. The two were very comparable when it came to the mid- and high-range performance, offering very good, clear sound. But Studio 5 offers significantly stronger bass performance, and a top volume that’s about twice as loud as Sound Kick’s. NudeAudio’s system can get loud enough to fill a small room without any distortion.
In terms of both looks and sound, Studio 5 is a solid performer, and earns our strong general recommendation. Its price tag is quite reasonable given its acoustic qualities and fun, modern design. The biggest downsides are the case-limiting Lightning connector and the price tag, which due to the Lightning plug is around $30 higher than comparably-equipped rival Bluetooth systems. Still, if you’re searching for a stationary speaker with both Bluetooth and docking capabilities, this one is a strong contender, and certainly worth considering on the strength of its looks and sonics.