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Francesco Pellisari Zemi Aria review - the bowling ball speaker with a stunning design

Richard Easton
7 Apr 2016
Zemi Aria lead
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
500
inc VAT

The Zemi Aria is certainly pricey but it looks and sounds fantastic

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Specifications

Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 125W, Dock connector: None, Networking: Bluetooth (SBC), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Dimensions: 270x240x270mm, Weight: 0.5kg, Streaming formats: AirPlay

Music and art are often said to go hand in hand, and that's as true as ever with the Francesco Pellisari Zemi Aria. Visually, it’s a stunning piece of design, which should come as little surprise when revered industrial designer Ron Arad had a part to play in designing the front grille.

Sitting atop its circular pedestal, this highly glossy, almost bowling ball-like speaker immediately draws the eye no matter which room you put it in, and its centrepiece status is only enhanced when you discover its spherical cabinet is made out of ceramic. That still doesn't make it immune from picking up grubby fingerprints when you touch it, though, and it's a shame it doesn't come with a micro fibre cloth like the Sony SRS-X99 to help keep it looking pristine. Still, there's always the option of going with a glossy white finish if you think the black one will attract too many unsightly smudges. 


Zemi Aria lifestyle 2

The metal patterned grille attaches to the front magnetically, so you can take it off if you wish to reveal a cloth cover grille below. This also pops out without much effort, and doing so exposes the Aria's pair of silk dome tweeters and carbon fibre composite woofer. This exposed configuration is for when you want to push the speaker to its highest volumes, but it does lose some of its subtlety as a result.

Alongside the drivers, you'll find a handful of LEDs. One set gives you a glance view of the speaker’s volume, with three illuminated LEDs showing it's been cranked up towards its top volume, while the other shows its standby and connection status.


Zemi Aria LEDs

However, these lights don’t quite line up squarely with the exposed areas of the cloth cover, meaning they’re slightly, and rather distractingly, obscured depending on how you're looking at the speaker. It’s not a major issue, but it seems a bit of an oversight when the rest of it has such a high attention to detail. A large, all-metal remote control is also included, and this simply has power and volume controls. It’s very basic, but it looks stylish and is well constructed.


Zemi Aria remote

On the rear of the speaker, you’ll find a 3.5mm auxiliary jack that can also double up as an optical input. If you have higher resolution audio files, the Zemi Aria can handle 24-bit, 96kHz over its optical input, but only a 3.5mm audio cable is included, so you'll need to invest in an S/PDIF cable (if you don't have one already) to play hi-res files. 

There’s also a Mini USB port, but sadly this can't be used to play music from a storage device. Instead, this is only for firmware updates and for setting up Apple AirPlay via its bundled Mini USB to USB adaptor. If you don’t want to use AirPlay, there’s also Bluetooth wireless, but there's no support for the Bluetooth aptX codec, which is disappointing given its premium price.

The speaker has a frequency response of 45Hz to 20kHz, which might lead you to believe there wouldn’t be much low-end presence. In reality, though, there was plenty of deep bass detail. Listening to A$AP Rocky’s L$D, which has plenty of difficult electronic bass, the bass remained well-controlled but still had plenty of power behind it. Turning the volume up higher, there was a little cabinet vibration, but that’s often the case with this particular track.

India Arie’s vocals on her cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps was articulate, and you can hear the detail of each intake of breath. Voices carried nicely over the instruments, and there was a good degree of separation between each element of the track overall. There’s plenty of volume, too, so the Zemi Aria shouldn’t have any issues filling a large room.

Zemi Aria metal grille

Overall, the Zemi Aria looks and sounds lovely, but you are paying a premium for both. With just Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay as your wireless options, it feels a little limited compared to more fully-fledged multiroom systems, particularly when a Sonos Play:5, which is a true modular multiroom system, can be picked up for less. The Sony SRS-X99 is also a worthwhile consideration if you want more ports and connections, but if looks are your priority, the Zemi Aria certainly won't disappoint. 

Hardware
Speakers2
RMS power output125W
Audio inputs3.5mm stereo, optical coaxial
Audio outputsNone
Dock connectorNone
USB portNone
Memory card supportNone
NetworkingBluetooth (SBC), 802.11n Wi-Fi
NFCNone
App supportNone
Battery capacityN/A
Dimensions270x240x270mm
Weight0.5kg
Streaming
Streaming formatsAirPlay
Supported serversNone
Audio formatsAAC, MP3, Wav, Ogg, WMA, Flac
Internet streaming servicesAny AirPlay-supported app
Buying information
Price including VAT£500
WarrantyOne year RTB
Supplierwww.apple.com/uk
Detailswww.zemiaria.com