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Master & Dynamic's concrete speaker is equal parts sound and spectacle

Master & Dynamic's concrete speaker is equal parts sound and spectacle
From Engadget - November 20, 2017

For the MA770, Master & Dynamic teamed up with Sir David Adjaye, an architect you may know from his work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. The collaboration resulted in a speaker that exhibits physical weight and dramatic angles, so the ties to Adjaye's work are obvious. To construct the MA770, the company developed a unique type of concrete to increase the material's sound dampening properties and overall acoustics. The shell is also one solid molded piece.

As you might expect, a speaker made out of concrete is pretty heavy -- 35 pounds to be exact. It's definitely a "lift with your legs, not with your back" type situation. The extra heft means you have to give some thought to where the MA770 will sit. Most bookcases and tables will have enough strength to support the audio gear, but you will need to look beyond a flimsy shelving unit or a small mantle. For me, a dresser was a good spot to accommodate the overall size of the speaker and give it the recommended clearance from the wall. The speaker is much larger than something from the likes of Sonos, Sony and others so placement took some planning. The MA770 is more comparable in size to Bang & Olufsen's BeoPlay A6, another speaker that will put a dent in your wallet.

A concrete speaker is something you are going to want to show off in your home, and Master & Dynamic is well aware of that fact. On the face of the MA770, there's a magnetic metal grille that's easily removed to expose the device's dual speakers and single tweeter. You can see through the grille already, but just in case you want to display that bare concrete facade, you are able to do so. Along the bottom of the speaker's front is a metal strip that holds the MA770's four onboard buttons and an LED indicator for which connection is active. The controls are for volume, play/pause and selecting a source and that light will tell you if you have picked Cast, Bluetooth, aux or optical to play your tunes. Since most music apps have audio controls, I only had to get up to change the source rather than to tweak the volume or pause a song.

Once you have found a place to put it, the MA770 is easy to set up. All you have to do is plug it in and download the Google Home app on a phone or tablet. Since Master & Dynamic's speaker uses Chromecast for its WiFi connectivity, you will need the Google app to get it connected to your home network. In my testing, the speaker was recognized immediately and the setup was complete in less than five minutes. Sometimes connected speakers can take a while to get going or require multiple attempts to get them online. That was not the case here, thankfully.

From there, broadcasting audio via WiFi to the MA770 is a matter of firing up your favorite compatible audio app and hitting the Cast button. For me, that's a mix of Spotify (through Spotify Connect) and PocketCasts. Bluetooth is available for all of the options that do not play nice with Chromecast, like Apple Music. It works fine, but I rarely used it. And let's face it: If your go-to audio apps are Chromecast-enabled, there's little reason to.

You can also opt to use two MA770 units as a stereo pair for both wired and wireless audio. I was not able to test this out as I only had one unit on hand, but if you feel the need to splurge for two, just know this feature is available. In terms of wired connectivity, there's a 3.5mm aux input around back as well as an optical input. Unfortunately, I am not (yet) a turntable owner so I was not able to put the MA770 through its paces with vinyl.

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