Over the last few days, I’ve been playing around with my new Wren V5PF speaker. I had been cross shopping the last month or two for a speaker that fit my needs (e.g. wifi support, controlling via iphone/PC, and above all else great sound). I looked at various wifi solutions including the Bose sound system and Sonos. But ultimately I went with Wren because of their Play Fi support.
What is Play Fi? Play Fi is a new DTS (the guys that do surround sound) feature that is similar to Airplay where it allows you to stream high quality music over the air without sacrificing quality. I’m a slight audiophile, so obviously Bluetooth was out of the question since there are limitations in the quality of the audio. What is great about Play Fi unlike Airplay is that I am not tied down by the Apple ecosystem. Sure, I have an iPhone and an iPad, but I didn’t want to figure out terrible solutions for my PC to stream to the speaker and to have guests over being unable to stream from their Android phone.
After unboxing the Wren, I was having some difficulties setting up the speaker to connect to my Asus router. I was able to get it into “search mode”, which is basically 1 second interval blinking lights on the console. My “Play Fi” app that I downloaded from the iOS store was unable to recognize the speaker. I had to delete it, and download the “Phorus” app to get it to see the speaker. After this slight hiccup, setup was a breeze to get it working.
With the current setup I have, I can stream from my Synology NAS, my iPhone, and my PC very easy. I’ve added libraries to my NAS, so that the Phorus app can see the media server folders. The app’s browsing of the folders is very easy. After you select the song, it takes about 2-3 seconds before it actually plays on the speaker. I can access my PC very easy as well. I set up a Plex server on my desktop, and the Phorus app sees that too! You can easily switch between media servers in the Phorus app to access content. Lastly, I also wanted to play podcasts from iTunes via my PC. To solve this issue, simply download the Apple Remote app to your iPhone and have it connect to the iTunes Home Sharing on your PC. The caveat with doing this is you need to have your PC control the Wren speaker, which for me was not a big deal since I’m in a rather small apartment.
The Wren speaker itself is a little weighty, but looks fantastic and has a unique appearance in its price range. The sound produced from it is very natural unlike Bose speakers. The midrange is very pronounce. Thankfully the highs are recessed a bit. The bass is thumpy but only under certain circumstances. For example with rock songs with a pronounce bass line e.g Snow Patrol or Minus the Bear, the bass is more than enough for me to get excited. On other songs where the bass is a lot less noticeable, the speakers could use some help from a subwoofer. Regardless, I think these speakers are still fantastic for their price range, especially in an apartment setting. I have mostly 256 kbps AAC encoded songs, and the clarity is really awesome to listen to. There is nothing that is comparable in terms of quality and price for what I wanted to achieve.
In comparison to the Bose sound system and Sonos set up, I’m happy to say I’m officially on the Play Fi bandwagon when it comes to streaming music. The Bose speakers are just OK to me. The sound is no where as accurate and clear to me as the Wren. I really despise the Bose sound in general because they tend to add some strange nuances such that it sounds borderline tinny and artificial. For Sonos, I was looking at the Play 1 and Play 3. The play 1 to me was what I was initially interested in until I I heard them in person. They are just too small in soundstage for me. The Play 3, on the other hand, was what I was seriously interested in. The soundstage was modestly comparable to the Wren, but it still did not have the presence and clarity that the Wren has. It was also the same price as my Wren ($299), and I did not want to lock myself into the Sonos ecosystem. I am sure the ecosystem works, but it’s just not for me and my desired usage.
Play Fi right now is maturing as we speak. I spoke to Wren about some of the upcoming pipeline features, and they are very ecstatic about where it’s heading. I’m extremely pleased with my purchase with Wren V5PF speaker, and I look forward to what DTS has in store with the Play Fi technology.
Visit: Wren Sound