Stereo One, manufactured by Swedish speaker specialist Audio Pro, is a compact, all-in-one hi-fi system aimed at bringing audiophile-quality sound within reach of most people. And when we say 'all-in-one hi-fi', we mean just that. There's no DVD player or video switching circuitry; there's just a CD, radio and amplifier in one beautifully crafted aluminium chassis, along with a couple of (also beautifully crafted) speakers.
While the price may sound like a lot of money for a product Audio Pro itself touts as being "within everyone's reach", when you take into account the amount of cash any serious hi-fi fan will likely spend on equipment, it suddenly sounds a whole lot more reasonable. The simple fact that everything you need is right in the box (including some rather weighty speaker cables) makes it even more appealing, especially if you have been put off building a system by the often problematic task of matching amplifier to CD player to preamp to speakers.
The compact nature of the Stereo One also lends itself to appeasing the large number of people shacking up in inner-city apartments and townhouses, where space is at a premium. The gorgeous hand-turned aluminium volume control and front panel are in keeping with the designer apartment aesthetic and just exude quality.
But enough of the ergonomics, what you all want to know about is how it sounds, right? Well, as good as it looks, actually. The amplifier provides 2 x 33W into 8 ohms or 2 x 40W into 4 ohms (20Hz-20kHz <0.7% THD). Total harmonic distortion is negligible and when coupled with the two Audio Pro speakers music is as clean, accurate and natural-sounding as one could wish for.
With such a compact system you'd be forgiven for not expecting much in terms of bass reproduction, but that's precisely what makes this tiny system punch well above its weight - the bass is prodigious and will have you searching the room for a subwoofer that simply isn't there. How come? Ace-bass. Stop your childish sniggering; this is more than a silly Scandinavian marketing name. Ace-bass stands for amplifier controlled euphonic bass. It is a patented technology developed back in the 70s by the Swedes and does nothing short of performing minor miracles in creating deep, powerful bass response from small enclosures. The difference here is that Audio Pro usually only deploys ace-bass in its range of subwoofers, so to hear it in action in this kind of setup really is rather impressive. What it means to the overall soundstage is that it extends well beyond the actual speakers (which are tiny). The further apart you place them the better it gets (happily, Audio Pro provides more than enough speaker cable).
You don't have to use the ace-bass (it can be switched off) and if you prefer you can plug a standalone subwoofer in using the line-out connector, but why would you when the bass is outstanding as is?
The AM/FM tuner does a great job (although listening to the cricket on the AM band seems like such a waste of these speakers) and features RDS and 80 presets. There's a line input on the front for connecting an MP3 player and, if you're really keen on showing off, the Stereo One can be used as what must surely be one of the world's most expensive alarm clocks.