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Friday, March 08, 2013, 04:56 pm PT (07:56 pm ET)

Review: Definitive Technology's Sound Cylinder delivers premium audio in compact package

When Apple switched to the proprietary Lightning protocol with its latest salvo of iOS device launches, many users were pushed toward Bluetooth solutions in lieu of true Lightning-capable speakers, but compromises in sound quality provided for less-than-stellar performance. Definitive Technology looks to change that with its new Sound Cylinder, a high-end Bluetooth-enabled speaker that delivers true 2.1 channel audio.

Cylinder Front


Based out of Maryland, Definitive Technology is no stranger to high-fidelity audio with over 20 years of experience in delivering unique products to A/V enthusiasts. The brand fostered a name for itself by incorporating innovative tech and appealing industrial design into its audiophile loudspeakers, earning a number of accolades along way, but has yet to branch out from the living room. Until now.

To say Definitive is testing the hotly contested waters of mobile accessories would be a gross understatement; with Sound Cylinder, they are jumping in head first.

Design



Like any new product, first impressions are based on looks, and the Sound Cylinder's tubular design is quite aesthetically pleasing. Head on, the unit's face is dominated by a grill reminiscent of the long-in-the-tooth Mac Pro, bookended by two slightly tapered protruding end caps. The left end houses power and volume controls, while the right serves as a port for the side-firing woofer (more on that later).

Cylinder Front


Unlike cheaper products that use plasticized materials, Definitive plied copious amounts of aluminum and magnesium alloy to give the Cylinder a high-quality sheen. The metal offers substantial torsional stiffness, giving the housing a solid feel especially for its deceptively light weight, though this level of build quality should be expected with a retail price of $199.

One would be forgiven in thinking that the device is actually a hard-wired dock, what with the non-removable rubberized piece jutting out just above the grill. The component is in fact a strong magnesium-armed clamp that can be adjusted to grasp onto tablets of most any size, including Apple's 9.7-inch iPad. Definitive's Cylinder can also be affixed to the top of a monitor or laptop, and with the unit at near ear-level, it easily bests the performance of Apple's MacBook Pro speakers.

Stowed in the rear of the speaker is a rubber soled magnesium kickstand strong enough to prop up an attached tablet. In testing, the kickstand showed little flex and the hinge mechanism was securely attached to the speaker chassis.

Cylinder Back


Also hidden away on the back of the device is a thumb actuator for the clamp, which is snugly attached to a strong spring mechanism for opening and closing the rubberized jaws. Wrapping up the unit's rear, literally, is a generous swath of rubber to prevent sliding.

Cylinder Clamp

Clamp actuator.


The Cylinder oozes class, featuring just one multi-function LED embedded in the power button. So far, so good.