Audio
Como Audio

Como Audio Musica Review

Old school meets cool

₹ 73,900

By Nishant Padhiar

Not many designers in the hi-fi space have been as dedicated to the science of radio waves and the art of cool. Tom DeVesto is one such gent who has worked his magic with Cambridge Audio, Tivoli Audio, Kloss and is now focused on working his charm with Como Audio.

Design: Say hello to the 60s

Constructed from half-inch thick MDF, the first thing that you’ll notice about the Como Audio Musica is its design and construction. It doesn’t break any ground in terms of form factor, but the fact that such retro-looking hi-fi products are rare to come by these days, makes it stand out. It has a hefty build with no flex, just a lot of attitude dripping from every corner. And there are lots of corners, this being as square as SpongeBob. But again, its boxy nature is part of the appeal in a world where everything is striving to get sleeker or rounder. 
Two pairs of drivers on each side, with tweeters pushed towards the far edges, ensure maximum stereo separation from a single box. The driver complement includes a pair of 0.75in tweeters and 3in long-throw woofers with oversized magnets powered by 30W per channel Class D amplifier. All of this is reigned in by a custom DSP to ensure that the small drivers outperform their physical attributes and lend a big sound to the Musica.

Mounted centrally are the electronic bits that hold a slot-loaded, automotive-grade CD drive, 3.2in TFT display, some buttons from the 80s and knobs that feel like they’ve been plucked from an appliance. The display is just that, a display and not a touchscreen and even the resolution is decidedly old-school. The menus require some getting used to since it requires a lot of button presses or knob twists to get where you want and when powered off, it displays an analog clock face. In short, it’s a mixed bag. 
The Musica scores big on connectivity, offering streaming internet radio options, Spotify/Deezer/Tidal/Amazon Music/Napster integration, Bluetooth 4.2 and a USB port that could be used either to charge or connect storage. There are a couple of Aux-inputs for connectivity of external sources and even a matching turntable if you want to take those vinyls for a spin! But perhaps the most charming of all is the inclusion of an FM radio, complete with a retractable telescopic antenna that takes you back to the 90s when the only streaming service was All India Radio (AIR) FM Rainbow! 
Then there is the option to take it multiroom with a bunch of other Como Audio products sprinkled around the house and you can group all of them together to even play the same music playing off the CD player from the Musica, which is pretty nifty indeed!

Sound: Warm but not fuzzy

Start it up and instantly, you know there is something inherently “right” about the Musica. Especially in the midrange frequencies. Starting with the BBC internet radio station, voices of presenters sound utterly natural and believable, with none of the sibilance or chestiness that many small speakers with DSP exhibit. As a thumb rule, if voices sound natural, music should as well. And thankfully, the Musica proves this theory right with an easy-going sound that sees a jump in quality as you keep moving from FM to streaming radio to Bluetooth and finally CD.
The 3.2in display does show a lot of information on the streaming data so you can pick and choose internet radio stations with higher bit rates, but it’s the built-in CD player that sounds the best by far. The Simpsons Sing the Blues allows its pristine production to shine through with heft and expanse, without being bright or brittle. It could do with a touch more dynamic oomph, but steer clear of the max volume and it is an enjoyable sound that travels well across the room, never giving away its small footprint.

The bass port does sound a bit stressed if you’re pumping out R&B or rap at full tick, making chuffing noises that can be heard if you’re seated close to the unit. There is EQ on board to let you tailor the curve as you like, but it really does sound its best when not pushed too hard. Although a single chassis speaker, the distance between the tweeters helps to create a pretty large soundstage (for its size) and give it a big speaker sound that a lot of other smart speakers don’t manage. Mix that with the thick MDF construction and it does sound like a well-designed pair of mini-monitors without a leading edge and great timbral accuracy.

Sadly, the remote feels like it belongs to a Chinese radio from the 80s and that is not retro cool. Primary controls like volume up/down are located at weird locations and ergonomically, there isn’t much to talk about. It does have eight preset buttons like on the main unit to jump to your favourite internet radio station in a hurry, but it’s not backlit nor does it make you want  to show it off.

Verdict

As a conversation starter, the Como Audio Musica can easily compete with the Scandinavian or British options, but it also adds a quirkiness that is unique. Sure, it lacks the ergonomic finesse or the last bit of snap in dynamics, but as a background entertainer, it does a fantastic job of providing virtually every form of source as a choice to the user. All in one unit!

Stuff Says

Not the price tag you expect, but oozes charm in both sound and aesthetics. Strong connectivity options FTW!
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Impossible to not love the design

  1. Midrange purity and well-behaved extremes

  1. Lots of external source options

  1. Remote isn’t backlit, poorly made

  1. Menus and display feel outdated

  1. Expensive

Specifications
Drivers: 2 x 0.75in tweeters, 2 x 3in woofers
Power: 30 watts per channel
Formats supported: AAC, MP3, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, WMA
Display: 3.2in TFT LCD colour
Dimensions (WHD): 16 x 6 x 8.5in
Weight: 4.3kg