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Audyssey Wireless Speakers review: Audyssey Wireless Speakers

Audyssey has released a new set of $250 Bluetooth media speakers based on the design of its earlier Media Speakers wired model.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
4 min read

Editors' note (July 19, 2013): Audyssey has confirmed to CNET that this product is no longer in production. However, the remaining inventory continues to be sold, and it's a good deal if you can get it under $200.

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Audyssey Wireless Speakers

The Good

The <b>Audyssey Wireless Speakers</b> are high-style Bluetooth speakers that offer great sound quality and much better stereo separation than single-speaker competitors.

The Bad

The speakers are a tad pricey, and a long wire is required to connect the left and right "wireless" speakers. They also lack the sonic gravitas to fill very large rooms.

The Bottom Line

While they may not be a bargain at $250, the Audyssey Wireless Speakers deliver a combination of excellent sound quality and stylish looks.

In 2011, Audyssey introduced a stylish set of $200 powered multimedia speakers -- the Media Speakers -- that offered good sound and the added bonus of a digital optical input. Now the company has put together a wireless version of the Media Speakers simply called the Audyssey Wireless Speakers. It carries a list price of $299, but is expected to sell for $249 when it hits online stores on August 29.

Unlike the company's $299 Audio Dock Air, this isn't an an Apple AirPlay Wi-Fi speaker; instead, it uses the more universal Bluetooth standard to stream audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device, including phones, tablets, and many PCs.

The Audyssey Wireless Speakers are compact but not tiny. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Media Speakers were black with a strip of red trim. This model, in contrast, is white with a strip of black trim. But it looks almost identical to the Media Speakers, with the same "elevated" wired base and volume knob on the front of the right speaker. While you get a headphone jack (it's next to the volume knob) and an audio input for using these speakers in "wired" mode with a cable, there's no digital optical input. (Both the Apple TV and PlayStation 3 have optical outputs, which made it easy to pair the Media Speakers with those devices.)

In terms of size, the speakers are compact but not tiny, measuring 9 inches tall by 4.9 inches wide by 6.8 inches deep and weighing a total of 7 pounds. Audyssey lists them as having a 0.75-inch tweeter, a 3-inch woofer, and two 4-inch passive bass radiators. There's a low-power "standby mode" for energy efficiency.

Stereo separation
A lot of Bluetooth speakers these days are single tabletop units that feature twin speakers but little in the way of stereo separation. One of the big things Audyssey's Wireless Speakers have going for them is the simple fact that you can separate the two speakers to achieve good stereo separation. (The catch is that these wireless speakers are attached by...a standard speaker wire.) There's a lot of digital processing onboard; the speakers are powered by a collection of Audyssey's proprietary audio technologies -- Audyssey BassXT, Audyssey EQ, and Audyssey Dynamic EQ -- which the company says enable the Wireless Speakers to "provide better sound than comparably sized speakers."

According to Audyssey, BassXT pushes the speakers' two passive bass radiators "for deeper notes," while Audyssey EQ accounts for "common acoustical distortions that other speakers fall victim to, keeping clear and balanced audio in all situations." Finally, Audyssey Dynamic EQ makes "continuous adjustments to account for the way humans hear at different volume levels."

While the speakers are wireless in one sense, they do require a power cord and are connected by a standard speaker wire (included). Sarah Tew/CNET

How do they sound?
As I said, lots of processing going on here and the results are generally quite good, particularly for Bluetooth speakers. The sound is detailed, the bass is punchy, and the speakers can play pretty loud without distorting. I put them up against the Edifier Prisma, a 2.1 Bluetooth system with a separate subwoofer, and the Audyssey Wireless speakers had more kick to them and sounded clearer. It was also nice to only deal with two speakers instead of three, and fewer wires. That said, the Edifier system ($129.99 list) cost half the Audyssey's price and seemed like a comparatively decent bargain.

I listened to the Audyssey in our fairly large audio-testing room, which has high ceilings. As I said, the speakers played pretty loud, but I didn't think they were quite able to fill a large room and sounded a bit underpowered when I moved beyond 10 to 12 feet away from them. In other words, they will be at their best in smaller to medium rooms.

The speakers feature passive bass radiators. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
The Audyssey Wireless Speakers offer a good combination of attractive styling, the convenience of wireless audio streaming from mobile devices and Bluetooth-enabled PCs, and very good sound quality, particularly for a Bluetooth speaker. Are there wired speakers that sound better in this price range? Sure. For instance, the Audioengine 2 speakers, which retails for $199, are better-sounding media speakers. And yes, you could hook up a $30-to-$40 wireless Bluetooth adapter to turn them into wireless speakers. But that would require more wires, and there's something to be said for Audyssey's digital processing, which helps get the best out of Bluetooth.

Bottom line: while they may not be a bargain at $250, the Audyssey Wireless Speakers are definitely worth strong consideration if you're looking for a set of wireless media/PC speakers that perform well.

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Audyssey Wireless Speakers

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8
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