Cavalier Air speaker system hands-on: Wireless charging, Alexa control, and big room sound

Smart speakers are found in millions of homes today, but that doesn't mean you can't have an intelligent speaker system that looks great and also offers a premium audio experience.

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Image: Cavalier Audi

Last year I took a look at the $249.99 Maverick speaker from Cavalier Audio and it offers an excellent wireless audio experience while also serving as a portable speaker. The new Air speaker system offers much of the same functionality, with the additional capability to charge up two of your devices at the same time through wired and wireless connections.

The Cavalier Audio Air is not a portable speaker and does not have an integrated battery, but it serves as a great speaker system for the office, bedside table, or other room where you want an Alexa-enabled speaker system that looks great with leather, wood, and fabric design aspects. The Air can also be grouped with other Cavalier Audio speakers to offer stereo or additional playback experiences.

Also: End of an era: Soon smart speakers will outnumber tablets

Retail package and hardware walk around

The Cavalier Air arrived in a well-designed retail package with a wall adapter to power the speaker. A Quick Start instruction manual is also included and given the way you use a direct WiFi connection to setup the speaker, you may want to read through it so you are informed about the process. I had to go through the setup a couple of times as the phones I was using tended to drop the direct WiFi connection during initial setup.

The speaker is constructed of genuine leather, acoustic fabric, and aluminum while weighing in at 2.2 pounds. The wood and aluminum side pieces hold an elevated central device above an opening with a lower aluminum frame piece. It is a very nice looking piece of equipment that fits well in an office environment.

The top is primarily covered in brown leather with a raised Qi wireless charging area topped with rubber to keep your mobile device from sliding off. Towards the front are several control buttons and status LEDs. The status LEDs show volume level, Alexa listening, and Qi charging status. Around the rest of the top and extending down over the front is fabric material.

The buttons, from left to right, are designed to control Bluetooth, alarm on/off/set, mute, volume control, and a Smart button positioned in between the volume buttons. The Smart button is used to control play/pause, next track, previous track, and Alexa. You can also program two of the four button actions in the Cavalier smartphone app.

There is a hidden LED display embedded within the front speaker fabric that can serve as a glanceable clock display with brightness control.

Around the back you will find a USB port to charge up mobile gear via a cable, the wall adapter plug, the front display control/time set button, and a Wi-Fi mode/setup button. Most of this area is black plastic.

Specifications

  • 20W stereo speakers with two active drivers and two passive radiators
  • Qi wireless charging, capable of 9W fast wireless charging for Samsung devices
  • 2.4A 5V USB-A port for fast charging devices
  • 802.11 b/g 2.4 GHz WiFi connectivity
  • Bluetooth
  • Speakerphone with built-in echo noise cancellation
  • Dimensions: 210 x 136 x 93 mm and 1 kg (2.2 pounds)

Smartphone software

There is a Cavalier Audio application for iOS and Android devices. I used the app and the Cavalier Air with an iPhone XS and a couple of Android phones. Once you go through the setup process and have the speaker associated with your Cavalier account, logging in on other phones brings up the speaker connection so you can easily connect and start playing music.

The Cavalier app lets you select your preferred music service, control your music playback, manage multiple Cavalier speakers, choose what the smart button double and triple taps control, alter treble and bass, download new firmware and update the speaker, and manage your wireless network.

Spotify is my preferred music service and using the phone's Spotify app I can control the song selection and volume of the Air speaker without having to use Alexa voice controls.

I was also able to test out the group functionality, pairing the Cavalier Air with the Cavalier Maverick to enjoy audio in both the stereo left/right and both modes. You can designated one of the speakers to serve as the master speaker too.

Also: Cavalier Maverick smart speaker review: An elegant Amazon Echo alternative for the office or the road

Daily usage experiences

The Cavalier Air is a great-looking speaker system that also sounds great. There is good bass and treble with the ability to control each of these levels to your liking from within the smartphone app. Volume was also loud enough to fill a room and the speakerphone functionality was also solid.

With the capability to charge up two devices, one wirelessly, you can replace other charging docks and cables around your office with just the Cavalier Air. The ability for it to function as an Amazon Alexa speaker is also useful. It is also perfect for bedside use with the smart front LED and alarm capability.

The Cavalier Air is priced at $249.99 and while it is more expensive than stock Alexa speakers, it looks nicer, is very well constructed, and serves multiple functions. Supported music services include Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, Audible, and more.