Review: Wren Sound Bluetooth Speaker Offers Big Sound (for a Big Price)
There are no shortage of Bluetooth-enabled devices in our homes. If you own a smartphone, chances are you’re capable of streaming audio to some other device if you’re not interested in listening to tunes on the phone’s small speakers. Most tablets, and even many PCs, have Bluetooth connectivity built in, and it’d be a shame not to take good advantage of all the wireless technology has to offer.
But Bluetooth isn’t enough—the target for your audio has to be up to the task of pumping out great audio without the benefit of physical wires to carry that information. Fortunately, Wren Sound Systems’ V5BT wireless Bluetooth speaker is more than ready to get the job done. In fact, after living with the Wren for a few weeks, I’d say that it’s one of the best purchases you can make if you want to get some serious power out of your mobile device’s music library…but only if you’ve got the cash to back it up. At $399, the Wren V5BT isn’t a cheap option. But even after dropping that much cash, I doubt you’ll ever experience buyer’s remorse.
First up, the Wren itself is a gorgeous looking piece of hardware, a curved parallelogram with a solid, beautiful wood body. Silver accents border the speaker’s front, with one sleek bar of four simple control buttons: power, volume up and down, and source, which lets you cycle between multiple connected devices. It’s got a few ports in the back, including the power input, an auxiliary jack, and a USB port to allow you to charge up your device while it’s streaming audio.
Assuming everything’s going well on your smartphone’s end, these are all the controls you’ll need. That said, I did run into an inexplicable problem a few times where the speaker refused to wake up, even when my phone said it was streaming music. Resetting the speaker by unplugging it and plugging it back in always solved the problem, though—and after a few weeks, the issue disappeared on its own, so I’ll chalk that one up to an anomaly that shouldn’t influence your decision, especially since dealing with it never took more than 10 seconds. That said, a few more controls, or perhaps a remote app to let me monkey with the speaker’s settings might’ve been a nice feature to help me figure out what was going on. Even still, as it is, the minimalist design and beautiful wood body make for an attractive addition to any room.
This, of course, is the most important aspect of the Wren V5BT, and it is, quite simply, incredible. From the first moment I turned it on, the Wren impressed me with its power and rich highs and lows. Despite its relatively compact frame, the V5BT pumps out a great amount of bass. Frankly, it made me regret the fact that I bought a separate sub-woofer for my home audio set-up.
Moreover, every device I connected to the Wren sounded great. My Nexus 5’s music was just as great as the sound streaming from my iPad and my Dell Latitude 10. Even files that I knew were not of the best quality seemed to get something of an audio polish when pumping through the Wren.
Of course, if the Wren sounded this good with standard devices, I can only imagine how much better it might be when streaming from a device equipped with CSR aptX Bluetooth. The Wren is an aptX-enabled speaker, but without a similarly supported device streaming audio out to it, you won’t be able to realize the Wren’s full potential. That said, even without aptX, the Wren impressed me at every turn.
And this is the biggest sticking point. Spending $400 on a single speaker seems like a lot. It’s fortunate that the performance is so impressive, making the price tag seem justifiable. If you’re an audio nut and have a room that could use some serious sound, the Wren is an absolutely great choice—especially if that room already sports plenty of wood furnishings.
So if you’ve got the kind of money it takes to buy a Wren, then you’ll be extremely happy with it once you’ve got it set up. But if you’re more budget conscious about your speaker spending, you might be better off opting for a smaller, more portable Bluetooth speaker. After all, the Wren is a hefty piece of hardware, and it won’t work unless it’s plugged in. No rechargeable battery here.
The Wren V5BT is an amazing speaker, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I could keep it now that my review is over. And if I ever get to the point where I’ve got four-hundo to throw around on personal audio, then I’ll seriously consider adding a Wren of my own to my collection of speakers. For now, sadly, I’ll have to stick with my less financially opulent speakers and dream of a day I can fill my home with beautiful sounding Wrens.
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