Rogers db101 Speakers Reviewed

By |

Page 1 Page 2


Wealth by association is a funny concept. But that's never stopped merchandisers from exploiting weird non-sequiturs like Ferrari-badged wristwatches, Marlboro clothing or any of the perfumes which inevitably follow the success of a designer in the rag-trade. And while writing with a Harley-Davidson pen isn't quite the same as owning the motorcycle, it does seem to give a number of wannabees the requisite buzz. But why has it taken so damned long for the hi-fi community to understand this? Twenty years after Yamaha enticed an Italian to design its sloped cassette deck, a year after Aliante slipped the Pininfarina badge onto a loudspeaker, we have another of those all-too-rare-associations between disparate commodities.

Not that Rogers has actually issued the db101 as a licensed badge-wearer. Rather, the consumer is made aware of the fact that the aesthetics came from the same pen which shaped what many consider to be the greatest vehicle of all time: the McLaren F1. Peter Stevens' sculpting of a small, two-way loudspeaker's cabinet for a British firm is the kind of move which will garner press coverage outside of the traditional specialist magazines, necessary if the db101 is to sell in the kind of numbers required to make it earn its keep. For, with the db101, Rogers is taking on three of the biggest speaker manufacturers in the world: Bose, JBL and B&W.

Additional Resources

The targets? That triumvirate's 'lifestyle' speakers, those tiny, flexible, injection-moulded mini-speakers beloved of studios, clubs, interior designers, home cineastes and trendies. Indeed, the kind of speakers loved by everyone but audiophiles, who always seem to have a problem when style has been applied to a hi-fi product. They still can't grasp the notion that something doesn't have to look like shit if it's to sound good. (You don't believe me? Then how come the - deservedly - best-selling high-end speaker of all-time, the Wilson WATT/Puppy, is also the ugliest?)

It's essential that you understand why JBL's Control 1, B&W's Rock Solids and the whole range of Bose's passive and powered mini speakers (including the AM5 satellite system) sell in numbers that would dwarf most traditional manufacturers' total career output. We're not talking a few thousand, but tens-to-hundreds of thousands of pairs. And for a smallish specialist to enter that particular fray, everything has to be just right. I was told the cost just for tooling up the db101's cabinet and realised immediately that it was the kind of commitment which calls for near-religious faith in the product.

Ostensibly a dinky little two-way speaker in a cabinet made from plastics, the db101 is quite clearly a generic match for the opposition, right down to the provision for the fixing of myriad types of hardware: brackets, stands, extra modules. But that's as far as it goes. Peter Stevens' design is swoopy, modernist and - depending on the finish - both cute elegant. In this respect, it's more like the B&W rival than the more purely functional and 'invisible' designs from Bose and JBL. But it's not all for show: the design ensures that there are no parallel sides within the enclosure, to eliminate problems from internal reflections, and the enclosure is air-tight to guarantee controlled bass.

It's important, too, that you keep in mind the dimensions of the db101; the photos suggest something much larger unless some small item is included to provide a sense of scale. I certainly wasn't prepared for the review samples' diminutive presence, even though I'd seen shots of the prototype. A wildly finished speaker measuring only 270x190x193mm (HWD) and trimmed with lacquered aluminium is a jewel-like thing indeed, especially given the choice of side panels available as standard. Yes, there will be those of an automotive bent who'll want a facsimile of the blue-and-yellow limited edition produced in the Lanzante SuperCar race team colours, but that's taking the brand linkage to the extreme. And while I wouldn't be surprised to see db101s in Ferrari Rosso for the Modenese car builder, or in red-and-white for Coca-Cola, it's more likely that regular customers will settle for off-the-shelf trim. After all, custom finishes can only be offered in runs of 200.

What happens to the injection-moulded ABS cabinet besides the painting of the middle section is the fitting of aluminium side panels or 'cheeks', provided by a state-of-the-art aluminium 'fabricator' from the USA. I was shown the equivalent of a tailor's or decorator's swatch book, a selection of aluminium stampings finished in everything from a black-and-gold marble lookalike to a 'yoof market' metallic red panel covered with drawings in the style of Keith Haring to a choice of neon blue, red, brushed or natural aluminium with a tactile black matte centre 'V' flash. Within the range are enough types to cover staid dwellings, modernist 'bachelor pads' and, yes, boring audiophilic listening dens. Basically, if you're prepared to pay extra, Rogers will come up with any finish you like.

Who'll be the first maladroit to ask for wood?

  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

HTR Product Rating for Rogers db101 Speakers

Criteria Rating







Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.

Latest Bookshelf Speaker Reviews

Jun 10
RSL CG5 Bookshelf and CG25 Monitor/Center Channel Reviewed RSL is back with a bigger, beefier bookshelf speaker and an LCR to match. How do they sound? Dennis Burger puts a complete system to the test.
RSL CG5 Bookshelf and CG25 Monitor/Center Channel Reviewed

Apr 01
SVS Prime Wireless Speaker System Reviewed Don't let your kids hear SVS's Prime Wireless Speaker System.
SVS Prime Wireless Speaker System Reviewed

Mar 11
JBL Synthesis L100 Classic Loudspeaker Reviewed It's no secret that as time and technology have progressed, things have gotten more complicated and less reliable as we...
JBL Synthesis L100 Classic Loudspeaker Reviewed

Feb 11
Kanto YU6 & SUB8 Powered Speaker System Reviewed Let me make one thing abundantly clear: I love the concept of powered loudspeakers. I absolutely support their adoption. Over...
Kanto YU6 & SUB8 Powered Speaker System Reviewed

Dec 10
Home Theater Review's Best of 2018 Awards Here at the end of 2018, we at look back at all the products we reviewed this year and pick the best of the bunch, from budget favorites to aspirational flagship products.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2018 Awards