Parrot DS1120 wireless hi-fi speaker system review: Parrot DS1120 wireless hi-fi speaker system

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The Good Compact, stylish stereo speakers can wirelessly stream audio from Bluetooth devices; includes USB dongle for streaming from PCs; built-in amplifiers; line-in jacks for wired connections; firmware upgradeable; good sound for small speakers.

The Bad "Wireless" speakers still require one power cord for each speaker; source device needs A2DP profile to connect; streaming wirelessly from an iPod requires an optional dongle; no easy way to toggle to line-in sources.

The Bottom Line While pricey, the Parrot DS1120 Bluetooth speaker system offers a great combination of good sound and stylish looks.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Parrot, a French company, makes a growing number of stereo Bluetooth speaker systems, most of which we've reviewed favorably. Parrot has a few new offerings for 2008, including the DS1120 ($280), a compact two-speaker system that resembles a set of stylish computer speakers.

The identical speakers measure 6 inches tall by 5 inches wide by 5.4 inches deep, but with their cylindrical shape, they may remind you a little bit of mini cannons. They have a black, matte finish and touch-sensitive buttons on their top right corners for raising and lowering volume and Bluetooth synching. While you have to plug each one of them in to power them, they're linked to each other--and to an audio source--by the Bluetooth wireless standard. Their black-fabric speaker covers are removable and adhere magnetically, which is a nice touch. It's also worth noting that the front of the speaker (behind the grill) has a glossy black finish that makes the speaker look pretty slick sans cover.

On the inside, each speaker contains a digital two-channel Class-D amplifier with a 30-watt output. But the key bullet point here is the built-in Bluetooth 2.0: it includes the two key Bluetooth components--EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile)--required for decent-sounding stereo audio. AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile) is also onboard, so compatible devices can control volume from afar, as well. It's also worth noting that the speakers' firmware is upgradeable (via the Bluetooth link from a PC).

Because Parrot utilized the Bluetooth standard (instead of some proprietary wireless format), the speakers should be able to stream from any Bluetooth audio source that includes the aforementioned A2DP profile. While that doesn't include every Bluetooth device--many older cell phones have only the lower fidelity software profile used for monaural headsets--it does encompass a large and ever-growing list of mobile devices. As of yet, the iPhone isn't on that list, but it may eventually get the A2DP profile via a future software upgrade. As for standard iPods, you'll need to purchase a separate Bluetooth/A2DP dongle. If you don't already have one (the ones included with some car stereo and wireless headphone iPod solutions should work just fine), Parrot recommends Ten Technology's NaviPlay--either the standalone adapter or the one included with the NaviPlay Bluetooth headphone kit. (A complete list of compatible phones and dongles can be found on Parrot's Web site.) Bluetooth streaming from PCs or Macs is also supported (a USB Bluetooth dongle is included if your computer doesn't have built-in Bluetooth support). Non-Bluetooth products, meanwhile, can still be connected to the DS1120 the old-fashioned way: each speaker includes a 3.5mm line input. Of course, if you're really going to use the wired connection, you should probably buy a cheaper set of speakers.