ONEmicro Plus Review Upward Firing DECT Cordless Speakers

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

So much has bluetooth technology been popularized that most people, probably, haven't heard of DECT. Before there was a thing called "Bluetooth", DECT cordless was king of wireless! DECT made wireless landline telephony a reality, just like Wifi did for the Internet. Both DECT and Wifi were rolled out during the early 1990's; whereas Bluetooth was first introduced just after the turn of the century in 2001. Bluetooth is literary everywhere, used for computer peripherals, headphones and portable speakers by the vast majority of manufacturers, aside from - ONEaudio - who are resurrecting DECT, bringing it to the forefront as an alternative to Bluetooth audio. 
The first DECT cordless speaker that ONEaudio launched was the ONEmicro which was featured on Gadget Explained 5 years ago. The second generation ONEmicro, it's an upgraded version called ONEmicro Plus, which are the green and black color speakers seen pictured. Being DECT speakers, audio is transmitted via 1.9 GHz radio frequency, which is a stronger signal than Bluetooth and also more stable because DECT radio frequency does not compete with bluetooth peripherals.
Design wise, the ONEmicro Plus has the same cast iron metal body and metal grille mesh as the original ONEmicro with an status led ring built-in around the rubber base of the speaker. The status led flashes blue and red during pairing mode and show solid blue when connected. During audio playback, the status led turns off automatically (unlike the original ONEmicro) and will only light up when changing settings like volume or sound timbre.
The bottom of the ONEmicro Plus is rubberized and integrates two physical plastic buttons, which are slightly recessed to allow the base of the speaker to sit completely flush against the surface. The charging port is located on the bottom rim and has not been upgraded; hence it still uses a micro USB port. Each ONEmicro Plus speaker incorporates a 1000mAh rechargeable battery that takes 4 hours to recharge via 5V/1A (there is no fast charge support). From a single charge, you can get up to 11 hours of playtime on moderate volume (50%), which is twice the battery life you could get with the first-gen ONEmicro. You can get up to 20 hours when setting the volume source to 40% volume and leaving the speaker at default volume.
The ONEmicro Plus speakers can be used while charging but, they cannot be used like wired speakers because the ONEmicro Plus micro USB port is for charging only. There is no AUX audio port either, which would have been a neat upgrade. The ONEmicro Plus speakers no longer support ECO mode, although battery performance is better, thanks to a more efficient DSP chipset.
The buttons control the volume, as well as sound timber selection: Natural (no signal processing), Clarity, Vocal (emphasizes vocal sound in audio) and Comfort. Both Comfort and Clarity sound timbres emphasize speech when watching videos. Other functions you can control include left/right balance (up to 7dB), pairing mode and report status, which tells you the battery left in the speakers, as well as the sound timbre and left/right balance setting. 
You will hear a loud voice prompt when toggling between the functions, which helps to navigate through the menu selection. Because there is only two buttons, getting to a specific function requires several button combinations, which takes getting used to at first. The ONEmicro Plus speakers don't have any IPX rating but, they are very portable and easy to carry in the hand, thanks to the cylindrical shape.
The ONEmicro Plus uses a 62mm diameter barrel-like enclosure (54mm tall) that houses a single, up-firing 48mm neodymium driver and a passive radiator sealed off from the PCB board. Being made of solid metal, the ONEmicro Plus speakers have a nice weight to them, weighing 250 grams each.The ONEmicro Plus ship as a pair; hence you get two speakers. One key upgrade you get with the ONEmicro Plus is an "AIR+ 3D" function, which is enabled by pairing one of the speakers as a "Rear" channel speaker. The 3D effect works by decreasing the volume and delaying the audio (by ~1ms) to make the sound appear to come from further back. The 3D effect can be disabled by simply pairing both speakers as "Main" speakers.
Both the ONEmicro Plus speakers and the included ONEdongle transmitter firmware can be updated by downloading the ONEaudio USB Firmware Upgrade Tool  onto a computer and plugging the speaker and dongle (one at a time) into the computer and running the software. The ONEdongle transmitter can pair up to eight speakers, although you can only have a maximum of six ONEmicro Plus speakers running at the same time. The ONEmicro Plus can be positioned as Rear speakers, Centre speakers, Top Front speakers, Top Rear speakers and Main speakers. Top Front and Top Rear positioning create the "3D AIR" and 3D surround effect.
From factory, the ONEdongle transmitter should be paired to the ONEmicro Plus speakers so, they automatically recognize each other. If this doesn't happen, there is a manual pairing procedure you can follow by plugging the ONEdongle into a USB wall adapter and then, putting the speakers in pairing mode (you will hear a voice prompt saying "searching for surround dongle). The ONEdongle can be connected to an android phone using an OTG adapter so, you can sstream music to the ONEmicro Plus speakers. If you use an iPhone, you will need to use the Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, which is not included.
The ONEmicro Plus speakers have a 95dB sensitivity and can output a total of 5.5 watts, which doesn't sound like a lot but the built-in amplifier really drives the volume loud enough to fill a large room. The higher you go in volume the stronger the bass response becomes. The metal body of the speakers helps control the bass so, it's clean and layered (sub-bass/mid-bass). There is no noticeable distortion at high volume. Vocals and instruments have good clarity and detail. 
The ONEmicro Plus is also capable of outputting 5.1 sound so, if your computer's sound card supports 5.1 sound, you can enable via the computer's audio manager. The 5.1 sound is supported by Windows 7 and Windows 10 and works similarly to Windows sonic for headphones and 7.1 virtual surround. That said, if you are using multiple ONEmicro speakers you will actually get "true" surround sound.
When streaming music via an iMac or Windows 10 computer, ONEaudio recommends to select "Natural" sound timbre for "Windows 10" and "Vocal" sound timber for iMac. ONEaudio also recommends using the Microsoft Edge browser, instead of Chrome, for Windows 10 when streaming audio via YouTube and using the Groove Music app to play audio locally. For iMac, it is recommended to use Safari browser and the iTune music app. You can buy the ONEmicro Plus speakers from ONEaudio.

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