I'm in the middle of doing a roundup of Bluetooth speakers and in the flood of products coming into the office one of them stood out for two reasons: First, at around $400 it's considerably spendier than the rest. Second, it sounds quite amazing! Oh, and it's very pretty.
The speaker I speak of is the Wren V5BT which will become available in November this year. Its siblings were designed for different connectivity options; the Wren V5AP supports Apple's AirPlay while the V5PF supports Android through Wren's custom Play-Fi app while the V5BT adds the missing link, Bluetooth.
All three models also have a 3.5mm aux-in jack for analog line-level input.
Interestingly the company reckons that the V5BT's Bluetooth connection provides a lesser sound quality than the other two models unless the source device uses the aptX codec from CSR (note that iOS devices do not use this technology).
Despite the disclaimer, I found the sound quality of the V5BT when playing music via an iPad to be quite exceptional. The bass is impressively full for such a small system (6.125 inches tall, by 4.25 inches wide by 16.625 inches long and weighing in at just 6.6 pounds) while the highs are clear and the mid-range is balanced.
<audio geek stuff>The impressive bass sound is delivered by "two 3-inch throw drivers" (which sounds like an extremely long excursion for the cones or a non-specific way of saying the speakers are three inches wide and project the sound which is kinda what speakers are meant to do) with "4-layer voice coils" (which are better suited for low frequency sounds and because of reduced performance at higher frequencies don't "compete" with the tweeters) and finally "augmented by stereo bass-reflex design."
The tweeters are two 19mm edge-driven (which is provides wide dispersion) soft dome tweeters and the speaker enclosure is made of half-inch thick laminated MDF board finished externally with either with bamboo or rosewood veneer. Internally there's an "MDF brace to provide a chassis free from resonance and coloration" and the underside is covered with a 4mm "low durometer" (that means very soft) silicone pad to dampen resonance. Finally, the system is powered by a 50 watt Intersil D2 Audio DSP-controlled digital amplifier. </audio geek stuff>
Setup is simple: You press the setup button, discover the V5BT on your source device, then pair (no code required) and go. The V5BT remembers its pairings and, if unconnected, will actively connect to the last device it was paired with (not one of my favorite features in any Bluetooth device, I wish this could be disabled). Impressively and for resons I don't understand, the V5BT's Bluetooth connections appear to have greater range and are more reliable than the majority of devices I've tested.
Wren, quite correctly, claims "We enhance the soundstage, not with psychoacoustic tricks but traditional loudspeaker engineering that produces a big, lifelike image from a small system." I can't argue with that. This is the best Bluetooth speaker I have experienced. Priced at $400 it is worth every cent.