iPhone and iPad users have by and large come to conclude that the difference in wireless speaker audio quality between Apple’s wifi-based AirPlay and that of standard Bluetooth are so minimal on cheaper stereos that it’s not worth any extra bother to find an AirPlay-specific unit. But that’s a different story when it comes to higher end speakers, as Wren attempts to prove with its AirPlay based V5AP.
The single unit V5AP speaker is one of the more unique looking stereos we’ve encountered. Although rectangular on front and back, its sides both curve in a wave-like fashion such that its left front and right rear corners come to a point while its other two corners are curved. The front is covered in a grey mesh and the top surface comes in a choice of textured wood looks. The result is a product which looks decidedly non-techie and instead feels like it belongs front and center in a living room.
Audio wise, the V5AP turns out to be powerful enough to fill a living room. It offers a rich natural sound, fleshed out nicely in both the treble and bass ranges, sounding solid at volumes high and low. AirPlay pairing turned out to be as easy as expected. The wireless functionality allows you to place the speaker on your mantle or entertainment center while keeping your iPhone or iPad in hand.
So why does the Wren V5AP get a mere four stars out of five when there’s nothing not to like about it? Simply put, when compared to the rest of the AirPlay speaker market we’ve tested, the V5AP offers audio which sounds like it should cost about $300. So with its $399 price tag you’re essentially paying an extra hundred dollars for the distinctive styling. For those who love unique looking upscale products, the premium may be worth it.
Rating: four stars out of five • Price: $399