I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to review the V5PF (Play-Fi) Wireless Speaker from Wren. The sound quality was absolutely immaculate, and everything about the physical product more than justified its fairly high price tag. The one unfortunate dark spot in the nearly perfect experience came from software – an Android app built by DTS to run its proprietary Play-Fi protocol. It was ugly, amateurish, and unreliable. Two years have passed, and Wren has released the V5US, a new model that not only fixes some minor issues from previous products, but it also combines the features of its three existing variants to produce a single speaker with support for Play-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth. Read More
In the last few years, wireless speakers have exploded onto the scene with prices ranging from sub-$100 utility speakers up to a few thousand dollars for large home theater packages. A fairly new competitor, Wren, is trying to place itself in the ever more lucrative high-end bookshelf market. With a lineup of 3 wireless speakers priced at $399 each, the company is trying to take some attention away from the current leader, Sonos. Having spent a bit of time with the V5PF, the model intended for use with Android devices, I'm definitely impressed with the quality and looks, but the control app turned out to be a disappointment in an otherwise fantastic package. Read More
Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth? It's a question that most audiophiles have answered resoundingly when it comes to wireless sound: Wi-Fi, of course. Uncompromised fidelity (from the original audio source), more stable connection, fewer interruptions, and did I mention fidelity? In the last year or two, though, we've basically seen Wi-Fi speakers pushed into a corner of the market, as a niche product, while ever more ubiquitous Bluetooth speaker systems have taken the lead.
The reason for this is quite simple: Wi-Fi is hard, Bluetooth is easy. And not just in the setup sense, but in terms of actual audio playback. Wi-Fi speaker systems, like the well-known Sonos, are basically limited to whatever kind of functionality Sonos decides to implement as part of its player software. Read More