Cabasse RIALTO: High-End Audio for Recovering Audiophiles


I just returned from Munich, and this thought stuck with me. After you have been through all the madness that I saw there, assuming that you step up on the ladder all the way up, all the way to the Sonus Faber Suprema, million-dollar system, what remains to be done after that incredible journey? If you have to cure this wonderful but excruciating disease that has eaten your soul for so many years and finally go to rehab, what will be your substitute? What will suffice as a replacement for your addiction? Would that be enough for an average audiophile who does not have to end up in this madness? Is somewhere out there something good sounding enough, smart enough, and connected sufficiently so we do not have to jump into the rabbit hole? Let’s find out because I think there is. 

It is an authentic gemstone for the recovering audiophile and the average music lover.


This coaxial technology, developed by Cabasse as early as 1952 and constantly improved since then, allows all sound waves to spread out from a single source point so that they travel coherently and naturally, without interference and artificial coloring of the sound.

This was stated on the Cabasse website under the RIALTO product description. It’s a standard marketing pitch that you can see pretty often. Well, it’s not necessarily about the coaxial design, but you can put every type of driver on the dotted line. Except… Wait a minute! Except it was stated in 1952. Seriously? 1952? That was way outside the ordinary, and it drove me immediately to the Cabasse history section on the website. I discovered that driven by research and the constant desire to innovate, Cabasse invented and developed the coaxial speaker technology. So these guys actually invented this coaxial marvell tech in 1952! Not KEF, not Bowers & Wilkins, but Cabasse, around over 70 years ago. It woke me.

Cabasse La Sphere

Then, a few minutes later, scrolling down on the history page in the modern ADHD style, I got a glimpse of this company’s incredible history. Six generations of Cabasse luthiers (1730 to 1860) forged the DNA in which, around 1952, this family, deeply rooted in music and musical instruments, started the venture of Cabasse manufacture. Just a few years later (1958), they developed the first 3-way active speaker. After that, the product line expanded with 3-way technology complemented by dual bass drivers, Quadri coaxial speakers, and the legendary, and even today, totally unexpected and completely out of this world “La Sphere” unique and timeless masterpiece. It’s timeless because we must wait for some aliens and their hundreds of years ahead design and tech to match the look and sound of “La Sphere” in such a compact, jaw-dropping design fashion. 

Cabasse always looked and felt out of the ordinary. It is not just about technology and the pursuit of perfection for their coaxial drivers; it is about a totally different approach, a different path taken, so far away from everyone else that, at first sight, it looks alien to an untrained eye. Of course, they also have more “normal” products, such as parallelepiped boxes, but I can still see something alien hidden inside. And they did it; they hid their coaxial technology even there. Never giving up, 2021 hit again with “The Pearl Pelegrina,” a 70th-anniversary unique statement and a kind remembrance of “La Sphere.” Active speaker technology, executed to the extreme in the incomprehensible alien style, is a luxury collection that will haunt us to the end of our days. Or until some aliens finally land here and show us how they do it 🙂


2022 is the year when we, mortals, got something tackled in a more accessible package from that statement technology. It was the year when Cabasse launched the RIALTO platform, with the bookshelf as the first product. The first wireless Hi-Fi system in a bookshelf format carries the proprietary Cabasse coaxial technology. They did not stop there with that aspect. Of course, they could not stop, so, believe me; they needed to add a lot of other alien staff to RIALTO, hidden in different forms and places. I will prove it to you.

More than 70 years of acoustic emotions heritage!

More than 70 years have passed since the company’s founding, 70 years of innovation, search for excellence, and exploring more emotions around music through the ages. Inspired by the most famous and oldest bridge in Venice, this new audio system named RIALTO symbolizes the junction between traditional Hi-Fi and the connected technologies developed over the last ten years by Cabasse. It embeds the best acoustic and software technologies and comprises two connected active speakers in a compact bookshelf format with soft, rounded lines reminiscent of the Murano.

Although very compact, RIALTOs have the potential to provide the emotion and impact of live sound, with vocals that stand out and instruments that crowd the space. They deliver the full dynamics and precision of high-resolution recordings. Numerous Cabasse innovations made this technological achievement possible. But even before I opened the box and set it up, I was amazed by the incredible technical details:

  • two-way coaxial for treble and midrange, each powered by 300W amplifiers
  • built-in rear-firing woofer powered by a 450W amplifier
  • a total of 1050W per speaker, promising a frequency range of 30Hz-27Khz
  • can produce volumes up to 118dB without distortion
  • room correction DSP that can process PCM files up to 24/192

These are very impressive specifications, combined with the speaker’s size, could only be achieved with the Cabasse proprietary technology:

Three drivers disposed on the same axis.

This coaxial technology, developed by Cabasse as early as 1952 and constantly improved since then, allows all sound waves to spread out from a single source point so that they travel coherently and naturally, without interference and artificial coloring of the sound. 

Patented HELD (High Excursion, Low Distortion) woofers

Capable of delivering powerful, deep, accurate, and, above all, distortion-free bass. With a diameter of only 17 cm, the driver design enables a very high excursion without the magnet coming out of the field for maximum impact without distortion.

A perfect synergy between the amplification and the loudspeakers

Thanks to the patented DEAP (Digital Enhancement of Acoustical Performance) technology developed by the Cabasse R&D teams, this technology enhances the performance of the loudspeakers via dynamic multi-band signal processing with feedback loops that allow the exploitation of all the available amplification power for a distortion-free rendering of the “peaks.”

DSP-calibrated sound for your room!

Deserving of the most high-end systems, with its built-in microphone, this system has been designed and developed to deliver optimal listening quality, thanks to Cabasse’s patented automatic room calibration. With the Cabasse Stream CONTROL application, users can personalize their sound through innovative optimization tools developed to fit their homes and preferences.


The first weekend after my return from Munich’s audiophile heaven, I opened the pretty heavy and substantial Cabasse RIALTO box. The speakers were larger than my own KEF LSX II. Even if, at first sight, it seems that both are equipped with separate connections, one speaker still takes the lead. In terms of connectivity, you get HDMI eARC, TOSLINK, analog RCA, and Ethernet options around the back of the ‘main’ speaker, plus Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect, Apple AirPlay plus Qobuz and Deezer baked right in via Cabasse’s own StreamCONTROL app. Both speakers have ethernet ports, optical, USB, and power. However, the usage is quite different.

Build Quality & Looks

It’s up to you to choose between white or matte black. The first is the most discreet, while the second highlights the metal parts of the Rialto (at the base and speakers drivers if you choose not to put the grilles). As for the installation, it would be better to provide robust support; each speaker is close to ten kilos. Enough to give a sense of density compared to the content format (26x21x24 cm). The look and finish are what you can expect from a premium product. Larger and heavier than my KEF LSX II, they are still in the ballpark of desktop speakers if one prefers to use them for that. But the power and engineering behind it tell a different story. The drivers are impressive and look much better without their magnetic grilles. Also, in the back, the 17 cm HELD (High Excursion, Low Distortion) woofer promises a much lower fundament and a much more powerful bass.

RIALTO is advertised primarily as a multi-purpose audio system designed for Hi-Fi and suitable for TV. It works very well on the multimedia cabinet on the TV side. But it will work even better on their stands, and I had the opportunity to test this scenario as I also got the Cabasse stands.

The primary speaker holds the tactile and evolving integrated controller. RIALTO presents a touchscreen control on its main speaker. Increasing or decreasing the volume with its rotation ring, changing its sources, or adding or modifying its favorite radio station is very convenient and useful. We saw these tactile controllers elsewhere; we would encounter them usually in much more costly products and, more than that, not at that quality. I was very impressed by the album artwork presented inside the controller, which has a perfect circle shape. On the top and bottom of the artwork, one can still have the streaming service information, artist, and track currently playing. Quite an engineering feat!

Did you spot the remote control already? I wish any audio system had one. It has a perfect form factor, it feels solid in your hand and has only the bare necessary buttons: Play/Pause, Rewind, Forward, and Source. It provides proper solidity and a rubbery back with an outer ring for volume control. Just perfect.

Connecting the speakers

The optical Link port, found on both, can be used with an optical cable to link both speakers. The USB port on the secondary speaker should only be used for service connections. The Ethernet port on both acts like independent connections to the network router/switch, linking both speakers over the local network. That part was impressive and worked so well. I knew that only one other active-powered speaker could sync over the local network and not by connecting one to the other directly. And those guys had many problems and glitches until they finally got it to work. But I tried this because connecting each speaker independently without a cable between them is so much more convenient.

And it worked marvelously. A sweet voice told me from each speaker that “Right speaker is connected,” and after a few seconds, “Left speaker is connected.” Both worked now as a seamless, proper stereo system. Quite impressive! The speakers can also be paired with Bluetooth, but this is a compromise if any other connection seems unsuitable.

The primary speaker cares for the analog RCA connections, HDMI input for the eARC TV connection, and a USB port. Once each speaker established a proper connection and linked to each other over the network, I fired up the mobile application.

Cabasse STREAMcontrol

After opening the app for the first time, I was presented with the tutorial. After going through it very quickly, I landed on the network shared drive from my Roon server, which was less than a minute from connecting to power and playing content from the network. The next step while playing locally was registering my Tidal and Qobuz accounts within the app. Easy breezy. Absorbed by the music, I even forgot other cool features for a good time. 

The control app is sleek and works like a charm. I found everything immediately, and the user experience was quite good. But mostly, the enhanced DSP capabilities make the app so powerful.

Room Automatic Calibration

That powerful bass high excursion driver on the back, powered by an incredible 450W amplifier, requires some control to squeeze all the power when needed and make the sound right, not boomy. This is where the Room Automatic Calibration comes into place. It is an automated process where sounds are emitted and then picked up by the integrated microphones to determine the reverberation and acoustics of the room. The Cabasse algorithms consider valuable data to offer the best possible sound reproduction.

No debate is possible on this subject; the Breton manufacturer once again demonstrates all his know-how and mastery acquired during his 70 years of existence. From the first seconds of listening, there is no doubt that the RIALTOs play in the upper category and are indeed HiFi speakers. Each note takes on a different dimension, detailed and, at the same time, faithful to the original timbre of the instruments. The sound thus appears more natural, whereas more affordable systems quickly fall into the (over)interpretation.

This observation is all the more valid as the notes tickle the extremes. Cabasse communicates over a frequency range of 30 Hz to 27 kHz, a generous amplitude that allows you to enjoy both crystalline highs and deep bass. Maybe even too much is the feeling sometimes felt when the Dynamic Fidelity Enhancer option is active.

Dynamic Fidelity Enhancer

The Dynamic Fidelity Enhancer is an innovative solution that actively considers the listening volume to adapt the bass and treble. Thanks to the DFE, at low volume, they are amplified to compensate for the ear’s behavior. Depending on the acoustics of the room, the listening distance, and your preference, you can change the tonal balance of your audio player by choosing a position from High ToneNeutral Tone (High-Fidelity Mode), Low ToneVery Low Tone and Tone Extremely Bass (Outdoor Mode).

I used a Neutral Tone most of the time. It is the most balanced option and best preserves the instrument’s timbre. However, the other steps can be helpful in different circumstances, like playing late at night without losing dynamics or using the speakers outside where the impact of a room and room modes do not exist, making some bass enhancements welcome. Transcribing in writing a feeling of listening is, by definition, a perilous exercise; both human and architectural variables come into consideration. Nevertheless, and beyond any personal preference, there is no doubt that Cabasse signs with his RIALTO, a high-quality audio system.

Sound Performance

1. Preliminary Sound Impressions

I was drawn immediately into the sound from the first notes. The first sound impressions were overwhelming. I did not expect so much power and impact. The sound was muscular at the bottom end and highly detailed in the midrange. Above all, the sound was highly coherent. The impression of power and clarity stayed with me until the end of my testing session.

I was impressed by how much sound was expressed from such a small cabinet. I tested it on my multimedia/rack desk about 60 cm from the back wall. With the room calibration already completed, it sounded impactful, with a clear bass, but that could still be a little overwhelming sometimes. But I liked it. I enjoyed it. You know, my room has a mode that eats bass. Based on the dimensions of the room and my listening position, there are better matches for translating the bass impact. And it is what it is… So, every time I get a punchy bass in my chest, I feel a little bit of revenge. Even though I know it is probably too much, I can not stop enjoying those moments. In the long run, I will probably get annoyed and lose the satisfaction, but I want the feeling of a bass head for a short time.

Moving next to the stands, things changed as the distance from the back wall dived down a little the effect of bass in the room. A few seconds are enough to realize it, and even an uninformed ear cannot hold back its astonishment for very long with “Ooo” or “Ah yes” as for how to express this feeling. A feeling of accuracy, detail, and depth fills the room without pushing the volume.

2. Soundstage & Depth

Let us never forget that loudspeakers like this, when placed 1.5 – 2m apart, even on a TV unit or credenza, offer far better stereo separation than most high-end soundbars. A proper stereo image with realistic positioning of instruments and voices on the stage is the immediate result of having two separate speakers. I tested that repeatedly with my KEF LSX, now even more precise with RIALTO due to the sound volume characteristics.

 With the RIALTO, there is proper depth, and the soundstage extends well above the speaker’s boundaries. Even positioned on the rack, the soundstage is quite large. The TV scenario will work spectacularly and with far better precision than a soundbar, which will also be enhanced by visual augmentation. Our brain is easily “tricked” into linking the image naturally with the sound, so the precision of sound positioning in space correlated with the image is compelling. Will that sustain when we close our eyes? In this case, the answer is definitely YES. The precision of sound positioning is sustainable, and it gets even more in-depth and becomes anchored into the reality of visual augmentation.

Placing the speakers on their custom stands will improve the soundstage presentation. The effect is a better immersion and a more spectacular and prominent sound stage. Adding to that, I got a more coherent sound with a tighter bass, this approach is clear that it is preferable if you have the space and it fits your interior design. Placed on stands, the speakers can really show their true qualities: precision, coherence, sound impact, and loud volumes without distortion. I did not feel the need for a subwoofer, and this is also good for keeping the setup as minimalistic as possible without the fuss of another piece that tends to be large and not so easy to position in the room. But on this aspect, a little further.

3. Detail Retrieval and Transparency

This is the chapter I was looking forward to the most, as it is the most interesting to share with you. The coaxial drivers benefit us greatly here and translate to lucid, transparent, and coherent sound. The voices were awe-inspiring, and I imagined that to be the case, but it still overpassed my expectations. RIALTO is a true hi-fi contender, and the technology trickled down from its bigger brothers shows these qualities without a doubt. 

The midrange is excellent, with a vivid and natural presentation, making the voices and acoustic instruments sound real and impactful. I  constantly repeated the “coherence” term more than a text correction would allow, but this is the proper description, and it is an inherited quality of the coaxial drivers. Here, Cabasse offers the best that you can find. 

Detail retrieval is also excellent. I did not feel for a moment that I missed something. It may not be up there with my separate system, and of course, it can not be. The ultimate refinement of the details will bring a 20-time price tag. It is evident when you truly enjoy your music – I would not say so. The details are very apparent: a lot of air in the upper registry, everything felt sparkly, clean and revealing. There’s nothing to complain about. Can it be better? It can, but at a much heftier price tag. Is this something to hold back enjoyment? Clearly not.

The feeling of RIALTO is one of truly enhanced sound with fundamental hi-fi qualities: grown-up, confident, refined, and impactful. There is no apparent compromise, especially for the form factor. Vivacity and effortlessness are evident. Immense power reserve and proper DSP correction ensure swift delivery of sound pressure and adequate transparency.

4. Frequency Response

As a fully DSP-controlled system with many options to modify the sound characteristics, splitting the hairs into frequency ranges is irrelevant. The user can enhance the frequencies widely, so I will keep the comments at bay for what impressed me. Promising a 30Hz fundamental is already highly demanding, and yes, this is something you can get only by DSP-controlled drivers in such a small form factor. High excursion bass driver technology also plays a significant role in this achievement. 

The bass is quite impressive, and placing the speakers a little further from the back wall will allow for even more considerable pressure without becoming overpowering. You can achieve remarkable control and impact for such small cabinets, and the promised technical figure is achieved in reality. There is no slouchy bass; it is tight, controlled, and detailed. 

Midrange brings clear voices, emotion, and presence. It has proper audiophile qualities; it sounds superior to a passive speaker of the same dimensions, not to mention a soundbar or what is today the bread and butter of young generations – a single Bluetooth-powered unit. No, RIALTO offers a proper articulate, powerful, present, properly positioned midrange that will bring the voices in your room – right in front of you. I am not exaggerating; it was an absolute pleasure to discover such articulation from such small cabinets. Again, let’s be honest: larger bookshelves adequately powered with separate components, tons of cabling, and a lot more expensive electronics will sound better, for sure. Still, RIALTO showed more than a taste of what a solid hi-fi system can achieve. It is an authentic taste of an audiophile, a well-composed system that we all strive to achieve, and it is so hard sometimes. How often have we all invested much time, effort, and money to make a side step? Is always every acquisition a real success, an actual step up? Probably not. RIALTO is walking on a healthier path, both cost and satisfaction.

As for the treble, I was pleasantly surprised again. The clarity and integrity of the coaxial drivers bring benefits to the table. Transparency and cohesiveness provide a nice treble that is articulate, sparkly, and smooth. I was happy not to hear any brightness or harshness in the upper registry, and I did not pay much attention as I was impressed by the whole system’s muscular and articulate presentation.

The audiophile recovering retreat

After listening to ridiculously expensive rigs at the Munich High-End Show 2024 and coming back, I realized a few things. We are often impressed by the weight and price of those mammoths. Believe it or not, many could have sounded more impressive than expected. Maybe the room was not what it should have been; perhaps the pairing lacked the ultimate synergy, pure and straightforward, the noisy environment or just the music being played. I was not expected to get so much satisfaction in my home with such a small pair of active streaming bookshelves. But I did. Another realization hit me, and I was so pleased and immersed in the music. I realized I could enjoy my music without all the fuss engulfing us sometimes.

Maybe it is not all about the gear, not at all. It is about music; a system like RIALTO can bring much character and satisfaction. It is not a cheap system, but it is a fair-priced system. Simple and elegant to use, small enough to be placed almost anywhere, powerful enough to provide proper volume in nearly any decent living room, smart enough to offer a good user experience, calibration, customization flexibility, excellent connectivity, and true audiophile qualities. Damn, the bass goes deeper than my expensive system. It may not be as accurate or refined, but it is rewarding and powerful.

Could I go on my audiophile retreat with something to help me recover? I could, and RIALTO is a fine contender for helping with quick rehabilitation. It will provide enjoyment and genuine musicality. Just power it, let it measure your room, adapt to the new environment, and enjoy. That’s all it takes, and you’ll have a world of music at your fingertips. Connect your TV also and get a dream sound for your movies. What else can you want more? Enjoy, treat yourself, and be healed!

I can not promise you that I will leave just now, but when I do, I will stuff my luggage with a pair of RIALTO. I would not care about the room, cables, or other equipment; I would enjoy the cover art from the top and gently change the volume with that nice remote. Most of all, I’ll enjoy a great sound, listening to tons of music without caring about anything else. Sounds like a solid plan.

In Conclusion

I don’t know how much there is left to tell; a proper comparison would have been in order. My KEF LSX II could stand the battle for a while. Still, even with a subwoofer attached, the simplicity, the larger cabinets, the more powerful amplification, and the improved coaxial design of RIALTO will ultimately win the day. And it is fair enough cost-wise.

Priced at €2.990, Cabasse RIALTO stands its ground for performance, but especially for its impressive capabilities. This is a complete audiophile system, almost full range, with fantastic dynamics, coherence, and cleanliness of the sound. You won’t need a subwoofer, but you’ll still enjoy music and TV shows with the same enthusiasm. It is a small, intelligent little package with natural audiophile qualities.

You can get the RIALTO from their local distributor, HiFi Audio, or online and also from brick-and-mortar dealer store AVstore in Romania. You can also check the Cabasse worldwide website and find a nearby dealer. I want to thank HiFi Audio and AVstore for lending us these beautiful-looking speakers and introducing us to the Cabasse product line. We will try to discover more from this Breton creator, as we have just scratched the surface.

That said, I still need to hand over our Gold Award prize. Indeed, Cabasse RIALTO deserved our highest recognition.

Thank you all, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment in the section below.

Catalin Cristescu

I’m a Graphic/UI designer, user experience specialist, a tech addict, an enthusiastic entrepreneur and last but not least – a passionate music lover. I love art in any shape or form, transforming my music collection into an essential part of my entire life. I’m not your typical hardcode audiophile, but it’s still the dominant hobby that drives me forward.
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