Within 10 minutes of hooking them up, I was impressed by the Transparent One Encore powered speakers. They deliver audiophile sound quality for less than $600. Flexible setup options and premium build quality make them a great value as they compete with powered speakers costing much more.
Vanatoo Transparent One Encore Powered Speaker
- Small footprint with solid, seamless cabinets of 18mm thick wood
- Plenty of connection options; Bluetooth, analog, and digital inputs
- Treble and bass controls with a subwoofer output
- Small, full-function remote and magnetic grills included
- Startling big, deep sound with excellent imaging for such a diminutive size
My Vanatoo Transparent One Encores arrived at my home well packaged. The box they come in has a built-in handle and can be reused to pack them up for a road trip or to mail them ahead to your destination. I thought the packaging was both novel and useful. As I removed the T1Es from their box, I was immediately impressed with their weight and the outside fit and finish of the cabinets. The black satin vinyl was seamless, and they looked great with or without the included magnetic grills.
Active bookshelf speaker speakers with five inputs:
Bluetooth, analog (RCA), optical & coaxial digital (96K/24-bit), USB (96K/24-bit)
5.25-inch aluminum woofer, 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, 5.25-inch passive radiator
Integrated bi-amped Class D amplifier:
100 watts bass/mid-range, 20 watts treble
In the box:
magnetically attached grills, USB cable, 2 analog cables
18 x 16 x 12 inches
27.8lbs for the pair
vanatoo, transparent one encore, powered speaker, bookshelf speaker, Bookshelf Speakers Review 2019
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A newly-designed DSP crossover provides a smooth, cohesive sound quality that makes the Vanatoo Transparent One Encores a pleasure to listen to, even for extended sessions. The tweeter is a new design, and though I personally am not an aluminum dome admirer, I admit that this design sounds sweet and not ringy like other domes I have heard in the past. It provides just the right amount of air at the top end while still integrating with the mid-range.
The bass is what sets these guys apart from the competition. On their own, the Vanatoo Transparent One Encores can go down to about 48Hz, this being accomplished with help from a passive radiator on the back. That low end covers a large range for most music, except for the bass-heavy techno-synth stuff or pipe organ music. I had set the T1Es next to my Revel F36 towers and when I first powered them up, I thought I was playing music through my Revels. I had to physically get up (I hate doing that!) and double-check that the T1Es were the only speakers playing. My eyes and ears were at conflict. I’m not saying with some discernment that I couldn’t tell the two speakers apart, but the amount of bass and overall dynamic sound presentation from such a small package was impressive! Stereo separation was excellent, too. By the way, if you need speaker stands for your desktop speakers, Vanatoo sells some on their website.
Should you choose to add a sub to the T1Es and go with a 2.1 system, the speaker will automatically set the crossover and send the low end to the sub. You don’t have to do a thing to make it work. The master speaker contains all of the controls. You have bass, treble and volume knobs located on the back and a four-pin connector that hooks into the slave speaker. The connector is more than three meters long, so placing it in an office or a small home theater setup is quite doable. The cable is terminated with a threaded BNC plug that all but guarantees it will never come disconnected when moving the T1Es into position.
All speaker functions are included on the rubberized remote control, including the ability to adjust the bass and treble. Switching inputs can be done from the remote, but the speakers will automatically switch to whatever audio input is active. There is a power switch on the back, but the speakers will go into standby after 10 minutes of disuse. The remote does not come with backlighting, but for a non-home theater remote, I didn’t find that to be a fault. It also comes with a lithium battery for longevity, and not the standard AAAs that many remotes use.
I placed the Vanatoo Transparent One Encores on the console top under my television, spread about 3.5 feet apart. I toed them in toward the seating position and angled the tweeters toward my ears. I set the volume knob to about 60% and centered the bass and treble controls. With the remote in hand, I could also adjust on the fly. I connected the T1Es to an OPPO UDP-203 with a Morrow Audio coax digital cable and did the rest of my listening via aptX Bluetooth, as I expect most users would do. I had no trouble connecting either an iPhone 7 or a laptop. In terms of convenience, the Vanatoos are simple to set up and novices should have no trouble getting them to sound right. Bass output is impressive, and the clarity of the treble and mid bass is remarkable. I spent a lot of time listening to them and found them to be non-fatiguing and excellent at the reproduction of all genres of music. Male vocals had heft and authority while female voices were clear and sweet. The rhythm section of a jazz quartet had punch and snap. Even full-on orchestral classical music sounded full-bodied. The Vanatoo Transparent One Encores do not have to be relegated to a computer desktop; they practically jump up and say, “Let’s continue this party in the family room!”
For male vocals and acoustic instruments, I played James Taylor’s Greatest Hits. His distinctive vocals came through accurately on the T1Es and the guitar strings had plenty of detail. Their decay sounded quite natural, and the mid-range tones were not overpowered by the muddy bass that afflicts some small speakers.
Tonally, I liked the T1Es presentation, relaxed and easy on the ears. Even when I turned the volume way up, they held their composure.
Enya’s Watermark allowed me to evaluate the clarity and purity of the female voice, while also offering some very deep synth bass and complex harmonic structures. The Vanatoos performed well at this task. There was no sign of congestion or a “chesty” sound added to her soft voice. The treble was smooth, with little evidence of sibilance.
Sound was very well balanced without a feeling that either side of the spectrum was out of place.
Eight to the Bar: Behind the Eight Ball is a tribute to Zoot Suits and Swing (think Brian Setzer’s Orchestra). The rhythm is up-tempo and the harmonized vocals of guys and dolls singing old standards like I’m Trumpin’; Jump, Jive and Wail; and Twistin’ in the Wind are finger-snapping fun to hear.
With vocals surrounded by trumpets, saxophones, and drums, the tiny Vanatoos pumped out the sound with all the details and soundstage intact. When I turned it up and played Party Life, I felt like dancing… and I can’t dance. The T1Es really connected me to the music, and that is a good thing.
For some bigger sound, I went with the Grand Canyon Suite and Porgy and Bess Symphonic Suite performed by Eric Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops. The now-defunct Telarc label made some amazing recordings back in the 80s and 90s. They were noted for their detail and extreme dynamic range (often with a warning sticker!) that can really test the mettle of a sound system.
Though the Transparent One Encores did not transport me into symphony hall, the music they produced was quite enjoyable and kept me engaged. The soundstage they threw was large enough to be believable and once again, the tonal balance was just about perfect. Mated with a decent sub, these speakers would make a killer 2.1 system that would satisfy the needs of most listeners. I was in awe of the fullness of the music emanating from these tiny speakers.
In a crowded field of active desk top speakers, the VANATOO TRANSPARENT ONE ENCORE’s full and clear sound is a great choice for music lovers. Computer monitors? Sure; but the VANATOO TRANSPARENT ONE ENCORES beg to be your “party speakers” in a moderately sized living room.
- Small size, big sound
- Excellent fit and finish
- Plenty of usable bass output
- Lots of connectivity and a useful remote
- Stream from your chair via phone or laptop
- Perhaps more color options
The Transparent One Encores improve upon the original Transparent Ones by providing more connectivity options and impressive sound quality from a compact speaker design. The adjectives that best describe them are clarity with solid bass support. The convenience of streaming music to them is undeniably sweet and with the remote, you can now tweak from your seat. They were designed to be an entry-level audiophile component, and I think the guys from Vanatoo have succeeded in that goal. They sound great without a subwoofer but can be paired to one of your choice for a compact 2.1 system that you could be proud to show off to your annoying brother-in-law. The “secret sauce” is the ability to reproduce solid bass in a compact design, and the guys from Vanatoo got it right with the Transparent One Encores. Tasty indeed, gentlemen!