Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT Review

Less known in the U.S., Thonet and Vander is a German company that produces some surprisingly solid audio components. Now that they’re pushing their way into the United States, I finally had the opportunity to pick some up and try them out. This is my review.

Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT(IMG 2)

 

Starting with the basics, the Kurbit BTs are large 17″ tall, 10″ wide bookshelf style speakers. They’re built around a nice HDAA wooden enclosure, with 5.25″ amarid woofers and silk tweeters. They have three controls on the side: bass, treble and volume, with a power switch on the back. Connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.0, RCA inputs and a 3.5 mm auxiliary input for connecting phones or whatnot. There is an included 3.5 mm to RCA cable for connecting to a PC, the power cord of course, and a basic user manual.

Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT(IMG 3)

Usability wise, the speakers are a bit of a mixed bag. Connecting a Bluetooth device is easy, but odd. It’s done by toggling the power button, as the system automatically starts searching for a BT device upon booting up. A tone signals it’s searching and another tone signals it’s connected. It’s fast and painless, but I would much prefer a dedicated button for this task. The sound adjustment is also a bit of a pain, as it’s on the side of the unit itself. With speakers this large,it makes sense to space them apart, enhancing separation and improving the aesthetic, but then you will have to physically move towards the speakers to adjust them, as they’ll easy be out of reach. Instead, I found myself relying on my keyboard to adjust volume as it does have this function. This works well enough, but I’d prefer a dedicated volume control unit that I could position anywhere I needed it, especially with the power button being hidden on the back.

As a side note, the LED on the side of the speaker is used to indicate pairing status, power, etc, and is quite bright. It also flashes intensely when a BT device is not connected, strobing between blue and green. If it’s within view, it’s  very distracting. I actually dimmed mine with masking tape and sharpie (shown below) and it’s still borderline too bright if they’re somehow within line of sight.

Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT(IMG 4)

 

 

The build quality is overall very impressive. The HDAA body is a high density, compressed woof fiber designed to absorb/defend from vibration to enhance the clarity of the sound the speakers produce, but they’re also quite hefty and ruggedly built. The speakers come in at about 10 lbs each, or 20 for the pair, and it’s all the speakers. The knobs have a smooth glide to them with no wiggle, and the cones themselves are constructed from rubber rings, amarid fiber (basically kevlar), and silk, which is about as good as you get within the price range. The power button have a sturdy, satisfying click, and the speaker covers are decent quality as well, for mesh. Even the included RCA plugs are thick and burly, providing a premium feel to a decently price kit. The only sore spot is the thin, basic looking speaker wire and generic clips to mount them. They’re fine, and thick enough at the length we’re dealing with to have no impact on sound quality, but given the build and aesthetic of the rest of the set, it’s a bit of a low point and very much stands out. As a whole, however, the speakers are built very well.

Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT(IMG 5)

The sound is were the Kurbis really shine. While even at the maximum setting the bass is moderate and doesn’t provide much of a boom while gaming, the sound that comes from the speakers is absolutely crystal clear and sounds quite pleasant to listen to. Music is very neutral and balanced, with a gentle profile that makes listening for hours on end gleeful, while games have very impressive separation and ludicrous detail, making even distance noises like foot steps, splashing water, and ambient noises that typically get drowned out, come alive. The speakers emphasize the mids, while still somehow providing richly detailed highs, with bass that still provides some rumble, if not a real throat punching kick. If you’re obsessed with power bass, this isn’t your best option at all. However, if a balanced, easy to listen to speaker is more  your thing, and you prefer somewhere where all segments of the sound spectrum are equally and accurately reproduced, these do sound fabulous. They take music especially to a whole new level, but games as a whole just sound deeper and more realized. They’re refined, detailed, and the more discerning ear will certainly appreciate them.

Thonet & Vander Kurbis BT(IMG 6)Overall, the Kurbis BT speakers are wonderful speakers. The only real issues come about from what seems to be design decisions that are at odds with one another. They’re designed as PC speakers, but the controls are largely out of reach. They’re built for Bluetooth, but there is no dedicated function for them. Instead, they rely entirely on external solutions for control to become useful. However, they do sound amazing. They’re crips, clear, and provide one of the best sounds I’ve ever experienced, easily outpacing the best offering from Bose and Logitech (their THX certified models hold a special place in my heart). If you can stand a few minor annoyances, have the space and supplementary controls to make them usable they’re every bit worth the asking price (ranging from $150-200 at the time of writing).

I’m not affiliated with T&V, nor did I receive any compensation for writing this review. I just like to write about stuff.

 

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