Sweden-based Urbanears is known for its headphones, but it's branching out with a new line of Wi-Fi speakers that have Google Chromecast built-in, as well as Bluetooth capabilities. It's launching with two speakers, the Stammen ($350, £300) and the Baggen ($450, £400), which come in multiple color options and sport a minimalist, Scandinavian design. No word yet on Australian pricing, but we'll add it as soon as we get it.
I got a demo in New York, and while I don't think Sonos or Bose will feel too threatened by Urbanears' new multiroom speakers, I was impressed by the easy setup of the speakers and the Urbanears app, which seemed good. Often, the software is the hardest thing to do when it comes to these Wi-Fi speakers, and my initial impression is that Urbanears is off to a good start. I also liked that you can control playback using the two analog knobs on top of the speaker (there are seven presets to choose from, and you can link presets to Spotify playlists).
As for the speakers themselves, I think they're a tad pricey and need to come down about $100 each to compete in the US (I'm not an expert in the European electronics market). Urbanears reps acknowledged the price was on the high side, but they said they didn't want to cut corners out of the gate with the build quality and performance of the speakers.
They seemed to sound pretty good for what they are, but the Sonos Play:5 is only $50 more than the Baggen, and my gut says I'd rather have the Sonos.
As I said, you can opt for a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, and the speaker also supports Apple AirPlay, which seems like overkill.
Hopefully we'll get a chance to test a set of these speakers and compare them to the competing Wi-Fi models in our audio room. For now, have a look at Urbanears' launch video for the new line.