The Tombo Audio R1 speakers adopt a modern retro design and were developed with versatility in mind. They retail for ฿23,000 (US$718) but are currently available at the pre-sale price of ฿18,000 (US$561).
In today’s modern lifestyle, people’s needs and resources have changed dramatically from the past. Traditionally, if you wanted a good speaker setup you needed to pay a lot of money.
On top of the cost of the speakers, one would often have to pay additional costs for acoustic room treatment (assuming they have the room) and have space to optimally position the speakers in order to get the best sound performance. Nowadays, especially for those living in the city, space comes at a premium and a lot of people don’t have the luxury of a dedicated listening area.
The Tombo R1 aims to eliminate these issues by providing a speaker that is affordable, beautiful and can work in any room without being restricted by speaker positioning. Furthermore, the R1 is available in 3 colourways to ensure that the speakers will match the style of whatever room you put them in.
So who is the R1 designed for? It’s for people who want a reasonably small and simple audio setup that will work in any part of the house, whether it be a bedroom, dining room, or even in restaurants or coffee shops while also looking beautiful and matching the existing décor.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
3 colourways to choose from
Modern retro styling
Versatility for any lifestyle or room
Moderate dynamics and punch
Tombo Audio R1
Pivoting and Rotating 5.25 inches Kevlar cone with rubber surround
Pivoting 24mm aluminum diaphragm with silk,NE magnet
40Hz – 20kHz
Front-Mounted Bass & Treble Equalization Switches
20.5 x 11cm
Hole Cutout Dimensions
Width * Length * Height
31.0 x 18.0 x 55.0 cm
In order to fulfil its goal to fit in with any lifestyle, the Tombo Audio R1 has a modern retro design that incorporates futuristic and classic elements. It has a glossy, modern chassis with a real wood facade to add a vintage element.
To be compatible with any interior design, the R1 comes in 3 colourways.
White: for a modern, clean, contemporary design. Clean lines with a soft, wood facade.
Black: a deep grey chassis with a classic, brown facade. This has a mature and subtle aesthetic and is ideal for a loft home design.
Red: a bright red chassis with a black facade, symbolizing energy and modernity.
Furthermore, for customers looking for specific colourways, there is a customization option for both the colour and the faceplate available (at an extra cost).
Real wood was chosen for the faceplate to take advantage of the natural acoustic properties of wood. In addition, the waveguide is horn-shaped to control the angle of the sound and to infuse the natural harmonic tone of the wood in the music.
The R1 utilizes a 5.25 inch Kevlar woofer with a rubber surround and a 24mm aluminium dome tweeter. The drivers have a coaxial design to maximize phase time alignment. But what’s really interesting about the drivers is that the angle of each one can be adjusted individually. This is so the R1 can overcome the limitations of speaker positioning. In other words, the R1 can still perform optimally regardless of where it’s positioned in the room, thanks to the rotary angle-adjustable driver setup.
Another feature that has been added to increase the speaker’s versatility is the tone switches that are located on the edge of the woofer. These allow the user to adjust both the bass and treble by 3dB. By using these, the speakers can be placed anywhere in the room while keeping the sound quality intact. For example, if your room requires the speakers to be placed close to a wall, setting the bass switch to -3dB can help to avoid any boominess.
The Tombo R1 are lively entertainers. They have a balanced sound signature with a somewhat light bass, a neutral midrange and laid back treble. While a lot of affordable speakers go for a bold and upfront presentation, the R1 leans more towards speed and refinement.
The bass is more of a compliment to the overall presentation rather than the emphasis. So if you’re someone who likes a lot of bass you’ll likely want to add a subwoofer into the setup. Having said that, the bass does have some impact and a little bit of added warmth.
The R1 is more about mid-bass emphasis so it doesn’t have a lot of impact or sub-bass depth. This would actually be a good thing if you’re concerned about disturbing your neighbours or other family members. You’ll still get sufficient bass to drive the music but not enough to cause the neighbours to start banging on the wall.
I found the R1 worked really well with ambient electronic music. Listening to Aes Dana’s “Nuphar Log”, the bass is full-bodied but controlled with a natural decay. The sound easily fills my untreated room even at low volume without rocking the entire house.
The midrange has good clarity and is fairly neutral in tone. It’s not especially forward or expressive but is more balanced in relation to the bass and treble. It’s a midrange tuned for versatility across music genres rather than outright expression.
The neutrality of the midrange means it can maintain clarity and instrument separation without a reliance on a forward or aggressive treble. The result is a midrange that is emotive and engaging but at the same time clean with a hint of warmth carried over from the upper bass.
While the Tombo Audio R1 works well with most music genres, I found it works particularly well with jazz and blues music. In Keb Mo’s “Rita”, the vocals and guitar are the stars of the song, coming through with clarity and vibrance. The piano and guitars are delivered with verve and liveliness with surprisingly fast transients.
The treble is not as prominent as you might be used to in a general sense. As such, the R1 isn’t the most detailed speaker but at the same time, it doesn’t mask over macro details either. Of course, the big advantage of this type of treble is that it’s very smooth and easy on the ears.
So if you’re listening to lower quality recordings the R1 is quite a forgiving speaker and the treble won’t ever be overwhelming or harsh. This is the case regardless of how you set the treble tone switches. Despite the R1’s aluminium dome tweeters, the treble doesn’t sound in the least bit metallic. It’s actually slightly softened and sounds smooth and organic.
The speakers do a good job of disappearing into the room regardless of where they are positioned. They produce a wide soundstage with a stable centre image. There’s a good sense of layering, although instrument placement is a little vague. What I’m really impressed by is the way the soundstage is maintained consistently in all of the speaker placements that I tested them in.
The Tombo Audio R1 might not be the most refined sound you’ll find at this price point but you’d be hard-pressed to find something with the same level of versatility. If you’ve ever felt the frustration of trying to position speakers without compromising on audio quality you’ll appreciate the ease of the R1 when it comes to getting set up.
Furthermore, if you’re tired of seeing the same old monochromatic designs, the R1’s colourways will be a refreshing change. If you’re looking for a speaker that looks and sounds good but don’t want the hassle or cost of setting up a room you should check this out. You won’t regret it.