Aperion Aris review: Not yet a stream come true

This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
  •  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Aperion Aris has excellent sound quality for a streaming speaker, and decent stereo separation. The speaker has a very intimate sound and is best suited to ensemble music or folk. Build quality is very good. The promise of an AirPlay option is a big plus.

The Bad The speaker's reliance on buggy Windows software is a problem, and for best performance you'll need to use the 3.5mm input. The Aris isn't as well-suited to background listening, losing some scale off-axis, and it isn't as accomplished when playing complex music like progressive rock or stirring classical. The price is a little high.

The Bottom Line The Aperion Aris is a high-performance streaming speaker with an intimate sound, but its reliance on Windows streaming is a low note.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

At its announcement in May 2012, the Aperion Aris was billed as the world's first wireless speaker for Windows. While there are dozens of Apple AirPlay speakers, and even an Android speaker or two , why has no one thought to make a Windows one? Apart from sounding unfashionable, play with the Aperion Aris for 5 minutes and you'll find out why.

The problems with the Aperion aren't exactly the fault of the speaker, as Windows' Play To feature is fairly unreliable, but it does make us pine for the Apple AirPlay option that's due for the Aris this spring. Sound quality is fairly good for a device of this type, and it can go plenty loud. If only it weren't so expensive.

Design and features
The chassis of the Aris is pretty distinctive, constructed from a single piece of brushed aluminum and sitting atop a red steel stand. The thin stand is removable if you don't like the look and the bottom of the unit has a rubberized surface you can use instead. On top you'll find volume controls and power; there is no remote.

The Aris features a total of six drivers -- two tweeters, two woofers, and two passive, rear-facing radiators -- and boasts an amplifier with a total power output of 100W (likely 50W per channel). While it lacks an EQ circuit it does come with three different sound modes: Natural, Bass Boost, and Enhanced Stereo.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At the rear of the unit you'll find a PC Card-like expansion port and a 3.5mm input. Included in the box is a compatible adapter that adds wireless connectivity (with WPS) and an Ethernet jack.

The rear of the unit features dual passive drivers. Sarah Tew/CNET

The manufacturer anticipates that the main use of this speaker will involve Windows Media Player's Play To feature, as used in Windows 7 and 8. Right-click on a file in Windows Media Player and choose Play To -> Aperion Aris and the sound will (theoretically) appear out of the Aris. The box is also DLNA-compatible , so you aren't limited to Windows, and there are numerous apps, including the official Aris app, available for iOS, Android, and Mac.

The Aris comes with a wireless card. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Aris Control app is available for iOS and Android and is designed to be used specifically with the Aris. Unfortunately, it didn't work as well as even Windows' Play To function (about which more shortly) and either refused to recognize the Aris player or failed to offer up a usable library from within my Android phone.

Performance
In the three years since Windows 7's Play To debuted with promises of effortless streaming, I can say there is not a day that I've found it could fulfill them. I've used a dozen different configurations of networks, PCs, and playback devices, and Play To has consistently proved buggy.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Aperion Aris

Part Number: ARIS

MSRP: $499.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Speaker System Type wireless speaker system
  • Nominal (RMS) Output Power 50 Watt
  • Speaker Type Speaker System
  • Wireless Technology Wi-Fi
  • Amplification Type active
  • Connectivity Technology Wireless
    Ethernet
  • Crossover Channel Qty 2-way