Wren aims for universal appeal with V5US wireless speaker

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The minimalist elegance of the Wren V5US wireless speaker

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Wren Sound Systems has added a new model to its V5 wireless speaker range. Where the other three units are geared toward either Bluetooth, AirPlay or Play-Fi, the V5US supports all three wireless technologies for "near-universal device compatibility" and lossless audio streaming.

The Wren V5US is billed as the first wireless speaker to combine officially certified versions of DTS Play-Fi, Apple's AirPlay and aptX Bluetooth.

Play-Fi enables streaming of lossless audio over Wi-Fi from Android and iOS devices or computers running Windows or OS X and employs load balancing to help prevent drop-outs during transfer.

The beauty of Play-Fi is that the protocol supports streaming to multiple speakers. Up to eight different Wren speakers can be connected to the same network for synchronized, lag-free multi-room playback. A user can also stream tunes to different zones throughout the home or office from a single connected device or multiple mobile devices can be used to send different songs to different rooms. Play-Fi is also compatible with DNLA, which opens up music streaming possibilities from network-attached storage.

AirPlay also makes use of Wi-Fi for streaming audio and, like Play-Fi, Apple's technology caters for streaming of high fidelity lossless audio. It's a lot more particular about which source devices are supplying the tunes though and is limited to one device connection per speaker.

For non-Wi-Fi source devices, the V5US features Bluetooth with CSR aptX. One of the advantages of Bluetooth is its inclusion as standard on a good many modern mobile music devices, and it's not too fussy about operating platforms or brand loyalty either. The presence of the aptX audio codec signifies that listeners should be able to enjoy up to CD-quality streamed music. However, the wireless range of Bluetooth can be somewhat limited.

If you prefer to go old school and use a non-wireless music player, tunes can also be fed into the speaker via the 3.5 mm audio jack.

Within the speaker's laminated half-inch-thick MDF board cabinet, with internal bracing to keep resonance and coloration to a minimum and acoustic damping at the base, there's an Intersil D2 Audio DSP-controlled Class D amp rated at 25 watts per channel. The company says that its DSP optimization allows for louder playback volumes without worrying about nasty distortion creeping in to spoil the party. Sounds are thrown out via two 3-inch long throw drivers with 4-layer voice coils and two edge-driven wide dispersion soft dome tweeters.

The Wren V5US is available now in a choice of two finishes for US$499.

Product page: Wren Sound Systems

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