Home Audio has quickly become more convenient, affordable, simple and more importantly better sounding. With most people subscribing to some sort of music streaming service, sending your favourite tunes around the house doesn’t have to be an expensive luxury.
Over the last few months at Rapallo we have seen some amazing new wireless speakers. Specifically, from SVS, Yamaha and a new Scandinavian brand, Audio Pro. There are so many different WiFi powered speakers on the market. Some people can get a stand alone speaker for the Kitchen or have multiple speakers throughout the house. You might be pondering which system to go for. What makes a good wireless speaker? How good are the apps? What do the reviewers say? What is Rapallo’s pick of the bunch?
We will go over the 3 main multi-room systems that have a powered speaker: Yamaha’s MusicCast, Audio Pro and DTS Play Fi
Here are some areas you want to be aware of:
- App Functionality
- Product range/depth
- Sound Quality
Most of the apps have similar functions, but some have deeper features like connecting to your NAS, using the less known streaming services or making playlists. If you want to use a NAS (Network attached storage) with all of your music on your home network, all of the multi-room systems allow for this function. Your network just needs to be set up a certain way for each brand. For MusicCast your network must be set up with a Universal Plug and Play (UPnP®) protocol and for Play Fi your network must be set up as a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA®) server. MusicCast has a neat feature in making playlists in the app rather than making the folders yourself on a computer. All the systems have Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Apple Airplay, internet radio and an analog input (3.5mm or RCA).
The one thing about using TIDAL through these systems is you need put in your login credentials through the app itself. The overlay is not always as pretty or fluid as the regular TIDAL app. If there is a specific music source you intend on using you can always give us a bell to double check. All the apps have the simple functionality of linking rooms to play audio throughout the house in synchronization. With individual volume controls and equalizers for each unit.
Product range and depth
Yamaha’s MusicCast system hands-down has the most extensive range of products. With AV Receivers, Integrated Amplifiers, Soundbars, CD players and even a Wireless Turntable. MusicCast is truly an ecosystem for home entertainment. If you are planning to deck out your house with a home cinema, soundbar, or spin some vinyl. MusicCast is a great option for future proofing the audio in your home. The latest MusicCast update allows you to use their new wireless speakers in a Stereo pair or as Surround speakers in a home cinema (the MusicCast 20 and MusicCast 50).
Audio Pro exclusively do powered speakers besides a subwoofer and an adapter. Their finish and design is exceptional (they have the most colour variations over the rest) and they do sound amazing. The Link 1 is hockey puck of an adapter that can make other branded speakers linked to the Audio Pro multi-room system. Yamaha also have 2 MusicCast streamers: WXAD-10 and the NP-S303. The NP-S303 sends out a higher volume output over the small WXAD-10 because it is wall powered opposed to USB powered.
DTS Play Fi has a vast amount of brands (ie Arcam, Anthem, Klipsch, Martin Logan, SVS) and product types (AVRs, Speakers, Streamers) that use the Play Fi system. Products on our website include the Klipsch wireless series, and the SVS Prime Wireless speakers. These come in the form of powered speakers or wireless amplifiers ie, Klipsch Powergate, and SVS Soundbase. A DTS PlayFi Streamer is also available to link third party speakers to the DTS multi-room system in the form of the amazing Arcam rPlay. Definitely worth a look at if your are after quality streamer.
The consensus on Audio Pro is that they are the best sounding speakers for their price, constantly receiving full marks across the board. What Hi-Fi? describe the Addon C10 as having “Rich, powerful performance” and “an expert sense of timing and dynamics.” The small A10 also receiving 5 stars for Sound, Features, and Build. At Rapallo we must admit the Drumfire is our go-to office speaker. The Drumfire is the D1 Speaker sitting on a matching dedicated subwoofer, the bass is thunderous and room filling. For the musicians out there, the Drumfire has the appearance of a classic ‘Marshall’ guitar amplifier head and cabinet.
Source: Audio Pro
Reviews on the MusicCast speakers are just as positive. Trusted Reviews comment about the sound quality saying “The Yamaha MusicCast 20 sounds perfectly good. It can go loud enough to fill mid-size rooms, there’s no harshness of note and there’s reasonable detail in the upper-mids.”. On the MusicCast 50 they write “This large speaker offers sweet-sounding audio and generation-spanning features, but the bass needs to dig deeper”. Rapallo’s Ben owns the MusicCast 20 for his Kitchen. “It definitely needs the bass boost equalizer turned on, also the preset buttons on top are super handy!”
The SVS Prime Wireless speakers are relatively new with a few reviews out. From Reference Home Theater Pros include: “Excellent imaging, big sound, easy to use and compact. Cons include good bass for the size, but you might want to pair a sub with them.” We have them set up in the Rapallo Lab as a Stereo pair, which means one of the speakers are passive. You are able to get a Single speaker which will play in mono. This speaker has a Subwoofer pre-out, so you are able to add a subwoofer to the mix. A Rapallo Review is coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Sources: Audio Pro, What Hi-Fi?, trusted reviews, Reference Home Theater, Yamaha, DTS, Play-Fi