We test the best surround sound systems on offer and charge our phones wirelessly.
WHEN A TECH BRAND SPAWNS A VERB (GOOGLE! SKYPE!) YOU KNOW IT’S WINNING. SO IT HAS PROVEN WITH SONOS. BUT NOW A NEW RANGE OF WIRELESS MULTI-ROOM MUSIC PLAYERS IS CHALLENGING THE COMPANY’S MARKET SUPERIORITY. WE TEST HOW THEY STACK UP.
We wish we could surprise you, but Sonos still reigns supreme. Put simply: it offers the best sound of any we tested and has a slick app that starts the music as soon as you press play (that might sound basic, but the others are just not as responsive). Factoring in reliable streaming and the new wi-fi booster, it has to be awarded top spot. Clockwise, from top: PLAYBAR, $1099; PLAY:5, $649; SUB, $1099; PLAY:3, $499; PLAY:1, $329; BOOST, $165; sonos.com/en-au WIN: BLOWS AWAY THE COMPETITION FAIL: REQUIRES MAINS POWER
2. ‘PURE CONNECT’ BY JONGO
Jongo has come up with a good set of speakers, which adjust their sound for portrait or landscape orientations. We liked the option to run the smaller speaker off an internal battery, should a pool party demand it, and were impressed by the bright sound on par with LG’S. But what makes it good rather than great? The app. The set-up wizard wouldn’t work and its design is convoluted. POA; pure.com/au/ WIN: BLUETOOTH COMPATIBLE FAIL: CLUNKY SET-UP PROCESS
3. ‘MUSIC FLOW’ BY LG
Let’s get our main gripe out of the way first: even when playing music that was stored on (rather than streamed from) our iphone, the app took too long from hitting play to hearing a note. Otherwise, this is an impressive experience; it is bluetooth and NFC enabled, has a deep sound and offers an optional soundbar. What’s more, the next iteration will have batteries, so you can take it outside. Clockwise, from top: HS6, $799; H7, $549; H3, $249; H5, $399; lg.com/au/ WIN: FULL SOUND FAIL: SLOW APP
4. ‘SPOTIFY CONNECT’ BY PHILIPS
This is a great system that offers multi-room sound at a fraction of the usual price. But as a Sonos competitor? Not in the same league. There are only two speakers available and you have to be a Spotify premium subscriber to use them. Also, you can’t play different music through different speakers unless you have multiple Spotify accounts. So entry-level, but decent entry-level. From top: SW750M, approx. $179; SW700M, approx. $129; philips.com.au WIN: BANG FOR YOUR BUCK FAIL: ONLY STREAMS FROM SPOTIFY
5. ‘ALL SERIES’ BY PANASONIC
Though the sound is fine, this was the least remarkable product of the group. The range of speakers is small and their design – though we liked the ‘touch’ buttons – seems to owe something to a shoebox. Most pressingly of all: what’s up with the app? It kept crashing and when trying to change the volume it was easy to inadvertently select a different screen. From top: SC-ALL8GN-K, $479; SC-ALL3GN-K, $379; panasonic.com/au/ WIN: EASY TO SET UP FAIL: UNRELIABLE
WORDS CHARLIE BURTON & STUART MCGURK PHOTOGRAPHY MATTHEW BEEDLE