Review

5 wireless speakers

Review5 wireless speakers

Just as easy - just better

In a wireless world it is easy to get lost in one-box solutions. But it's just as easy with two speakers — and offers much better sound.

Budget-friendly bookshelf speakers have gone from selling like hot cakes to becoming a shadow of themselves. This is despite the fact that they have possibly never produced better sound for the money than right now. Instead, people want to have them wireless, with their mobile phone as the audio source.
For this same reason, one-box solutions have become popular. Both affordable Bluetooth speakers, but also multi-room speakers where Sonos dominates with steep competition from Heos, Bluesound etc.
But if you want the best sound, one speaker is not enough. Two is much more than double that of one in this context, because the sound is suddenly unfolded in the space between the speakers. And a proper stereo perspective is invaluable when immersing oneself in the music.

Stereo speakers with Bluetooth
A good solution is to connect a pair of good bookshelf speakers to an amplifier that receives the sound wirelessly from a mobile phone. But it is even more convenient to build the wireless receiver and the amplification into the actual speakers. And it is such speakers we are looking at this time around. All have remote control, so you can control them right from the couch.
All the speakers in this test have additional analogue audio input, many have turntable input, and all have optical digital input. If you connect the TV, you will be amazed at how much better sound is from the flat screen! For many, this could be a better solution than a sound board, because it gives you rich noise without the need of a subwoofer. The best also have an outrageously better conveyance of music, than any sound board we have heard so far.

Five hundred euro
We’ve been looking at speakers around the magical 5,000 kroner mark, and in this price range, a compromise has usually been made so that all electronics are placed in one speaker, which is further connected to the other with a perfectly ordinary speaker cable. This applies to all the speakers in this test.
We’ve found five exciting candidates. Klipsch have expanded their active speaker series, and one of our all-time favourites R-15PM has gotten a little brother. R-14PM is very compact and fits most bookshelves. We also have System Audio Saxo 3 Active, which has succeeded Saxo 1 Active – a former favourite within the class as well. Triangle is a renowned French speaker manufacturer, and we are excited to see how Elara LN01A performs.
The outsiders this time are Argon Alto 5 Active and Ruark MR1 MK2. Argon because it cost half as much as the most expensive and thus it is by far the cheapest speaker pair. Ruark because it is the absolute smallest speaker pair. I wonder if the physical dimensions may raise some challenges for the sound?

This is how we tested
All the speakers have several different inputs, both with and without cable. We’ve put focus on the performance of wireless speakers, and we’ve used Bluetooth. This is because we reckon this is what the majority will spend most of the time doing. The audio source was iPhone X with the music app Tidal, which offers music of CD quality.

Products in this test
Klipsch R-14PM

It does not depend on the size: These dynamic toddlers from Klipsch knockout in the biggest challenges!

The small R-14PM are among the smallest models from the Americans, and the fondness for HORN applies as much to these as to other Klipsch speakers. R-14PM uses the patented Tractrix horn together with a 4” bass/midrange, in a tiny bass-reflex enclosure.
Instead of imitation wood, Klipsch opts for a slightly sad and “cheap” vinyl finish on the “cheap” Reference series. All the connections are made in one speaker, while a supplied speaker cable is stretched over to the other. With its own remote control and good connectivity, the R-14PM is excellent as a complete sound system.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Sound quality
They swear by horn-loaded speakers at Klipsch, partly because it increases the efficiency and ability to play loud, clean and clear. And it works, it truly does!
Mathias Eicks’s lovely trumpet rings freshly into the room. And the test panel actually gets a little teary eyed once we play Mercedes Sosa’s emotional Kyrie. The small Klipsch speakers create a massive soundscape and manage to render Mercedes’ broad voice range without adding any “brakes” in the dynamics.
The Eminem classic Without Me, R-14PM shows that they can play loud and clear with no signs of stress. Eminem’s quick and confident lines are hard-hitting just as they should be. The synth bass may seem a little slim at times, but this has a natural explanation.
A small, compact speaker with a 4-inch subwoofer has its physical limits within the bass area. But to our ears, Klipsch has prioritised quite correctly. Instead of “cheating” with the sound y adding excessive bass at low volume, they have made a speaker with the correct sound balance. The R-14PM is also excellent together with an active subwoofer, not least thanks to its own volume controlled sub-output in the back. You get the best combination of them all, since none of the other test participants can match Klipsch’s dynamic qualities in treble and midrange.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Conclusion
The Reference series from Klipsch is one of our favourites among passive speakers, known for its resilient and energetic style of play. And the active version does not bring shame on its roots: Here there is plenty of pep and speed in the midrange and treble, and good cohesion in the sound picture. The bass may seem a bit slim, but those who mount the speakers close to the wall or in a bookshelf will experience a nice bass response. Klipsch R-14PM gave the best sound of the test!

Type: Wireless stereo speaker 2 x 40 W
Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 A2DP aptX
Connections: optical digital, stereo line-in (L/R RCA), turntable (MM), PC USB
Effect: 2 x 35 W
Dimensions/Weight: 14.9 x 24.8 x 19.1 cm / 3.2 kg
Colours: Black vinyl
Other: Subwoofer output, Remote control
Website: mono.no

Pris: 4795 kr
PositiveThe Klipsch speakers create a massive, wonderful and detailed soundscape
NegativeCheap cabinet finish. If you want proper deep bass, you need to pair it with a separate subwoofer.
Ruark MR1 Mk2

The Ruark speakers are both small and versatile, but will come to the most important things shortly.

They look better than most speakers in this class. With the slightly rounded sides of the cabinet, the details of the light metal, the elaborate fabric facade, the control dial at the top, and the possibility for proper wood veneer, the Ruark speakers are almost in a class of their own for wireless speakers in stereo. They can even be used with a battery pack, if one needs them to be portable. Because they are small enough for that. They are actually so small that they can easily fit virtually anywhere.
The speakers are also incredibly easy to use. The accompanying remote control is nothing to brag about, but with Bluetooth and a rotate-and-click dial at the top, nothing stands in the way of using the Ruark speakers, even for those with fumble-fingers. They have an analog and an optical audio input, so you are ensured good TV sound, and output for the subwoofer. But no turntable input.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Sound
As one can see, they are not large, and are therefore suitable on the desk, on the windowsill as well as on the bookshelf. Taking size into consideration, the sound is full and nice. There is naturally not much of either bass or dynamism here, and they don’t play very loudly. Unfortunately, the sound does not particularly enchant us. The midrange is grey and lifeless, and on the classical track the choir simply sounds mushy. The music loses a bit of both the foundation and the sound depth when one switches from e.g. the small System Audio Saxo 5 Active to these, which cost the same.
But everything is relative and if one sits close enough, the sound from the Ruark MR1 Mk2 is better defined. Unfortunately, they are unable to fill the living room properly. The Eminem track sounds anaemic, and the woofer struggles to release enough of the bass in the recording to allow us to be convinced.
Conclusion
The small Ruark speakers sound good enough, but are obviously best suited in smaller rooms and sound better when you have them in front of you on a desk. The physical constraints are noticeable in the bass and the volume. They play neither very loudly nor in a tough manner.
As an additional speaker pair they are nice enough, especially if one doesn’t have much room, but it’s not hard to find better sound for the same price. If you can live with slightly larger speakers.

Type: Bi-directional active bookcase 2 x 20 W
Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0 A2DP aptX
Connections: Aux Analog, optical, sub output
Sensitivity/ohm: 88 dB/4 ohm
Frequency response: 42 Hz – 30 kHz ± 3 dB
Dimensions/Weight: 17 x 13 x 13.5 cm / 3.5 kg
Colours: Walnut-veneer or matte light grey
Other: Subwoofer output, Remote control
Website: mono.no

Pris: 4995 kr
PositiveSleek design and trustworthy quality with good user-friendliness, relatively rich and warm sound considering size.
NegativeNo USB or turntable input, some grey sound and anaemic dynamics with limited ability to engage.
Argon Alto 5 Active

The cheapest speakers of the test are certainly nothing to scorn at. Argon Active 5 actually plays impressively well!

Triangle Elara LN01A

Triangle’s wireless speaker is a well constructed and a viable option in this price range.

SA saxo 3 active

SA has fine-tuned its Saxo series, and Saxo 3 Active has received a turntable input.

    Add

    Leave a Reply

    avatar
      Subscribe  
    Notify of

    Alternatives to 5 wireless speakers

    Bose Soundlink Micro

    Very easy to use and bring along to the beach, but you have to compromise on sound.

    Devialet Phantom Reactor 900

    Breaks the sound barrier

    Devialet Phantom Reactor is a nuclear power plant in tiny packaging.

    KEF does it again with a wireless edition of one of the best loudspeakers we have tested.

    6 wireless boomboxes

    The modern version of the 80’s ghetto blaster is versatile, but just as loud as the name suggests.

    Thinking that the limits were reached to the maximum, Devialet has surpassed itself. Gold Phantom is the coolest we have heard among small speakers.

    Last year's surprise now plays even louder, and is even more protected from the drivers.

    In a wireless world it is easy to get lost in one-box solutions. But it's just as easy with two speakers — and offers much better sound.

    Scroll to Top