Product Reviews

Mass Fidelity Core Review

Christian Cawley 26-01-2016

Holographic sound. No, we’re not making this up – it’s a thing, and it’s the key feature of the Core wireless speaker system from Mass Fidelity.


But do you really want to say goodbye to your multi-speaker surround sound setup and the string of cables running under the flooring or around the outside of your entertainment space? Let’s take a look at Core and see just what it delivers, and at the end of this review, we’re giving this unit away to one lucky reader!

Mass Fidelity Core: What’s it All About, Really?

As you should have by now gathered, the Mass Fidelity Core is more than just another Bluetooth speaker AirPlay vs. Bluetooth Speakers: Which Do You Actually Need? If you're an audiophile with a Mac or an iPhone, you've probably considered getting some wireless speakers and have been faced with the question: AirPlay or Bluetooth? Read More with cable connection options. The box boasts of “innovative holographic technology” that creates “an astounding multi-dimensional image that sounds better than traditional stereo sound” – but just how true is this?

I was fortunate enough to speak to the Core’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Webster a few weeks ago, and he was happy to explain – conceptually, without giving away any secrets! – how the device produces the sensation created with the Holographic Sound Technology. Understanding what the aim of the device is would be vital in establishing whether it succeeds, and whether particular environmental scenarios limit these aims.

So, in short, Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) is a rendering technique that creates a sound image in empty space, as opposed to pumping it through a traditional loudspeaker (or multiple speakers). The result is that the audio is pushed along “pathways” with the intention that a lifelike, natural sound is received by the listener. Ultimately, the result is that there is no “sweet spot”, as there might be in a multi-speaker setup. The sweet spot is essentially everywhere!

It’s a difficult concept to get your head around; the proof, as with so many things, is in the testing.


Unboxing Core

First impressions are good. Mass Fidelity have packaged Core in a compact box, with an outer sleeve that gives all of the information you would need to make a buying decision.


What the sleeve doesn’t tell you, however, is that this is device is equivalent to a 120 Watt speaker, and houses five custom designed speaker drivers. These do the hard work of emitting the sound (with 44Hz-20kHz frequency response) from the Core, which we’ll look at in more detail below.

It Doesn’t Only Do Wireless

Hidden away on the back of the box is a list of connectivity options.



Among things such as 12-hour battery life (I found it was closer to 13 hours, with but full recharge taking around 3 hours – specification state it should recharge in 2) and USB charging, you’ll find mention of an AUX input and optical input for outputting sound from Apple TV Apple TV 2015 Review With competition from Google's Chromecast and Amazon’s FireTV reaching fever pitch, can Cupertino still hold its own in the battle for the space under your TV? Read More , Roku Roku Streaming Stick Review and Giveaway All the features of a full Roku experience, in a small form factor that plugs straight into HDMI - does the Roku Streaming Stick deliver? Read on to find out and win one for yourself. Read More , or your cable/satellite decoder. There’s also a sub-out for connecting a wired sub-woofer, and behind the back panel you’ll find a connector for home automation systems.

The Core also features multi-room support (like Sonos Sonos PLAY:1 Review and Giveaway Read More ), enabling you to wirelessly connect several of these devices around your home or workplace, so they’re all pumping out the same tunes. But you should only need one in each room. This is what the box refers to with “wireless speaker system”.

After all, this “wireless speaker system” also includes wires for those of you without a Bluetooth-ready home theater PC or system Building A Home Theater System? Do It Right! 10 Crucial Mistakes To Avoid Do an image search for "home theater" and you’ll see photo after photo of huge, lavish theaters with seating for up to twenty (or more!) and giant screens. These ideals are every tech geek’s dream,... Read More . This is obviously a massive advantage, and expands the potential reach of the Core. But then again, this is a giveaway, and the Mass Fidelity Core – initially funded as an Indiegogo project – is retailing at $599. (It’s worth mentioning that the project exceeded its crowdfunding goal by 23 times, raising an immense $1.4 million.)


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As such, this is obviously not your standard Bluetooth speaker.

Like a Soundbar, But Not a Bar

Over the past few years, audio equipment manufacturers have noticed a reluctance by some consumers to invest in traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems, often due to space and cabling requirements (as well as children and pets). To combat this, the soundbar was developed.



Originally released by Altec, various companies (such as Zvox) can be credited with perfecting the idea, with Sonos among those that have produced soundbars with superior quality audio. But what is a soundbar, and how does it differ from a surround sound setup?

Well, the soundbar is exactly that, a bar of sound, a long, narrow speaker that is typically placed above or below your TV set. The wide dimensions of a soundbar means that audio can be bounced off walls to create an illusion of surround sound.

So, soundbars are easy to position. What about Mass Fidelity’s Core?

When You Can’t Find the Core

The name “Core” suggests a piece of hardware that can be placed centrally, in the middle of your home theater setup, potentially as the heart, depending on how happy you are with the results.

But the portable 6x6x4 inch holographic speaker makes placement tricky for anyone using a wall-mounted home theater solution, just as it can prove a problem for those with TV cabinets and stands built to exact specifications.

Now, if you’re using the Bluetooth connection to output sound, this shouldn’t be a massive problem, as the speaker can – in theory – be placed anywhere. But if your aging TV and home theater hardware requires you to hook a cable up to the Core, then positioning the device could prove to be a bit of a problem unless you have the right cables to hand.

Setting Up Mass Fidelity Core

Getting started with the Mass Fidelity Core is pretty simple. It plugs into the wall but also has a 12-hour battery life, making it ideal for totally wireless scenarios. This might be music streamed from your smartphone, or your home theater, gaming PC Can You Really Get A Good Performing Gaming PC For Under $1000? For many the $1000 mark is an important cut-off. Computers under this are generally considered affordable, even “mainstream,” while those exceeding it are looked at as luxurious items. The average selling price for a PC... Read More , even a house or garden party. Thanks to the USB charger port, you can also keep your smartphone or tablet battery topped up while piping music through to the Core.


If using with a PC, however, be aware that pairing via Bluetooth with Windows 10 and Mac OS X is not an exact science. Earlier versions of the OS are apparently more compatible, but a cabled connection will give the best results.

Setup is essentially plug and play. Within minutes, the compact dimensions of the Core will produce an aural experience that seems as though the science fiction future we were promised 30-plus years ago has finally arrived. Don’t forget to pull the plastic tab out of the back of the remote control to activate the lithium battery.

Core Test 1: Small Room (Music and Games)

Tested in a small room (my office, a traditional “box room”, essentially 2m cubed), the sound from the Core was at first slightly overwhelming. This was, of course, a matter of volume, and once I adjusted this, I enjoyed several hours of light classical music piped through the Core.

Quality was good, the tone warm and the necessary highs and lows met without any of the associated vibration and rumbling you might associate with other wireless speakers. Remarkably, even the oldest MP3 files – some of which were not encoded with a particularly high bitrate – sound fresh and lively.

Video games sound great too, pretty much as you would expect them to. Nothing beats the sensation of wearing a headset to get the full audio experience, but the Mass Fidelity Core certainly gives a superb audio reproduction, better than other wireless speakers I’ve tried with games.

Of course, this isn’t any other wireless speaker.

Core Test 2: Living Room (Movie)

Watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier with the Core connected to my Apple TV via optical cable, it struck me that while the sound was good, and just as clear as it had been connected to my smartphone for music (and my PC for gaming) there was something missing.

Although everything remained crystal clear, and although there were no obvious problems with bass, the range of the device didn’t quite seem to do the movie justice; the sound just didn’t seem “big” enough without rattling a few ornaments. This is in contrast to our Philips soundbar, which does produce good results without upsetting any statuettes.


So the Core is clearly a powerful device, but there are situations in which it might not be ideal. Ultimately, I think you would get the best use a single Core in a dedicated home theater, although it certainly does the job in a modest TV room setup. On reflection, I’m not sure if it has quite the same impact across a two hour movie as a Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 setup, or if I’m still adjusting, but the presentation of the soundtrack through the Core is certainly clear and enhances an enjoyable movie.

Core Test 3: Outside (Music)

If you’re in the habit of holding barbeques and garden parties, the Core will prove useful, up to a point. I don’t know if it is the local environment (a garden in midwinter) but the Core didn’t impress me outside. Perhaps I was expecting too much based on the success of the device in the interior tests, but it just didn’t seem to deliver the audio punch I was expecting.

Now, a clearer, less humid summer’s day might yield different results, but in this test, the Core didn’t hit the mark for me (I was listening to Led Zeppelin, music that I’m very familiar with.)

Should You Buy the Core?

Our verdict of the Mass Fidelity Core:
The launch price of $599 may seem a little expensive for such a compact device, but given the overall clear and lively sound reproduction, audiophiles should be rushing to pick up the Mass Fidelity Core.
7 10

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Related topics: Home Theater, MakeUseOf Giveaway, Speakers.

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  1. Steven
    November 22, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    The reason why this didn't work well out side is it uses wave feild synthesis and it needs walls to bounce sound off of.

  2. Paulo H F Miranda
    June 23, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Nice review, hope they sell this in Brazil for a reasonable price !

    Paulo Miranda - Brazil

  3. raymond
    April 4, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    My setup goes this way, I geared up my Core with a Chromecast audio, and connected to a Harman Kardon Sub HKS 210/230...the result is fascinating

  4. Anonymous
    February 7, 2016 at 1:03 am

    I wonder if this would pair with my Fire TV? Would love to win it and try it out.

  5. Christina Moore
    February 6, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you for the giveaway

  6. Aaron
    February 2, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Great technology! Can't wait to hear one!

  7. Anonymous
    January 31, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Please let an Asian win it this time! :D

  8. J. Husin
    January 30, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Great contest and review! Good luck to us all!

  9. Ulrich Carl
    January 30, 2016 at 3:39 am

    COOL! Liked&Shared

  10. J Marsh
    January 29, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Very nice!

  11. Raymond Stone
    January 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    In it to WIN it! Thank You!!!!!!

    • Anonymous
      January 31, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Best of luck!

  12. Chad Ford
    January 28, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    That would be perfect for the home-away-from-home residence!

  13. Tim
    January 28, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Can't enter contest and get credits mentioned. Watched Video 3 times, entered code, doesn't accept the code, try to subscribe to newsletter, didn't give me credit. Sucks

    • James Bruce
      January 31, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Enter the code without the quote marks. To subscribe, all you do is tick the box that says you'd like to opt-in and hit continue. It's worked for at least 5000 other people.

  14. Venky I
    January 28, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks, Just received it and I'm loving it :-)

  15. niels
    January 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Give it to me please. I dont have a speaker and id love one. Thank you.

  16. R Swamy
    January 28, 2016 at 5:29 am

    I love to get this small speaker ... Swamy

  17. Edmond
    January 28, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Wow, prize speaker is fab. & splendid. 2 fingers snap. It is tight, fly & off the chain. Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. :) Pick me, pick me!

  18. Erwin Thierry Klein Haneveld
    January 27, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    I am in it to Win it

  19. André Mendes
    January 27, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I dont want to be controversial or anything but I´ve always asked myself how this site is able to do so many giveaways when other can´t... This video shows why I bleieve MakeUseOf should draw the winner live on youtube:

    The guy has a point: how do we know if the giveaways are not fixed?! I believe we should have the drawing of the winners on a live video feed, dont you guys agree?

    PS: The video is not mine but the question is a valid one.


    • Anonymous
      January 31, 2016 at 10:39 am

      I agree! (Y)

    • James Bruce
      January 31, 2016 at 11:48 am

      How we are able to do this: We have 18 million pageviews a month, and part of our budget is spent on hardware. It's our way of giving back to our readers, while at the same time attracting new users and newsletter signups. We could write reviews without giving away the hardware, like most sites do - some companies send us the review hardware anyway - but then the review unit would just be sent back to the company (if they gave it to us). Wouldn't you rather we gave it away? That's our policy; we give it away.

      On fixing: Winners who agree to take a photo are listed on the winners page, though not everyone is happy sending us a photo, so it isn't mandatory. // - if I was fixing it, I'd probably fix it so every winner sent us a photo, and they'd be better at taking said photos rather some of the low res, grainy mobile pics we get. I don't even know that many people. I'm sure I could come up with some elaborate scheme where I pay random people to take random quality photos then give the hardware back, or take bribes, or something - but the effort required to set something like that up is mind boggling.

      I've been using the random "pick winner" button that isn't shown in the video, but your way is better. ;) That's a joke, by the way, I'll continue using the random button. We could record the pick live, but the effort of editing the raw video to censor the winner's email address, export the video, upload to youtube, and embed back in this page, is not worth it - just to appease a few doubters.

      I'm sorry you feel it's unfair - you've never won anything, I'm guessing - but that's the nature of a competition. It's a bit of excitement, a chance to get some cool hardware that you wouldn't otherwise.

  20. TC
    January 27, 2016 at 1:24 am

    I'd love to be the recipient of the giveaway. :)

  21. Chris
    January 26, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    When you have to give it away, I think you should give it to me ;-) for three reasons:
    1 your review was published right at my birthday. Coincidence?
    2 just like the reviews author, my name is Christian. Coincidence?
    3 I think this is a really great device which I would absolutely enjoy in everyday life
    I hope this convinced you ;-)
    Anyway, you guys are doing a great job! Keep those reviews and videos coming!

  22. Elena
    January 26, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I'm in :)

  23. Anonymous
    January 26, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Nice giveaway. Good luck everyone.