What do wireless speakers with built-in amplifiers and Digital Signal Processing have to offer listeners? After the livestream on January 9, 2022, it’s time for a review. Not one, but two speakers in a comparison. Although they share the same hardware platform, they sound completely different! We take a look at the Buchardt Audio A500 and the System Audio 5.2 Silverback.
The two ‘wireless’ speakers both come with the well-known Platin hub. And so, this is how we tested them. This hub makes the WISA link possible, and that makes teh transfer of music possible: wirelessly. This hub gives the most possibilities to optimize the speakers to your room and preference. We will post another article in which we explain more about this hub and the possibilities.
Setup and installation
Connecting the speakers is easy. Buchardt and System Audio have a how-to video on their YouTube channel. In total, you need three power outlets for the complete system: two for the speakers and one for the hub.
A very small booklet, with even smaller print states that it’s best to put the hub at least three feet from another transmitter, such as a WiFi router. If you follow this advice, the connection to the speakers is sure to be stable. But, know that WiFi is needed to control the hub with the app. And also to be able to use apps like spotify connect with the system. Unfortunately, no wired connection to the network is possible.
You can put the hub out of sight; the remote communicates via radio signals and doesn’t need to ‘see’ the hub. Preferably put the hub in the same room as the speakers. A place with sufficient airflow is recommended, because the hub does get quite warm.
For both System Audio and Buchardt the placement of the speakers is not critical. You get a good stereo image over a wide area in front of the speakers. System Audio clearly describes in the manual what the best position for the speakers is. This is illustrated with a simple and understandable diagram. This is something every manufacturer should do!
The speakers are clearly oriented towards users with a preference for streaming, but the HiFi enthusiast who also has a record player, with a phono preamp, can connect it to the hub via an RCA connection. You should – we estimate – not be a purist, as all incoming signals are converted to a digital signal for processing. After all, everything goes to the speakers via WISA. The music lover who mainly pays attention to how it sounds to the ears will have no problem with that.
Music streaming has been tested from the Qobuz app with Chromecast, with Qobuz via BubbleUPnPServer, where the FLAC stream from Qobuz is already converted to ‘wav’ and with AssetUPnP for the own collection stored on a Synology NAS. Streaming Qobuz directly via Chromecast or converting to ‘wav’ first makes no difference in sound quality. This is as expected, the signal is optimized by the DSP in the speaker with a relatively powerful processor. Well nice to see that confirmed.
However, we do encounter a major shortcoming of the Platin Hub. The hub does not offer gapless playback via UPnP! For lovers of classical music or dance with its own collection, this is a deal breaker. A Primare SC15 WISA preamplifier with the Prisma software does offer this. For your information, the music mentioned in the review can be found in these playlists: classical playlist – rock & pop playlist.