According to Parrot, Bluetooth is the future. In fact, they’re so confident in this that they deal exclusively in Bluetooth enabled devices – everything from picture frames to speakers.
Their wireless speakers, or SOUND SPEAKERS as they’ve rather shoutily dubbed them, incorporate two 60W speakers with integrated amplifier, which use Bluetooth to stream music from your mobile phone, MP3 player or computer, as long as they support the A2DP Bluetooth profile.
Setting up the speakers is simply a case of taking them out of the box, connecting each to a mains supply (it obviously comes with two leads for this purpose) and turning them on so that they’re ‘discoverable’ by Bluetooth devices. There’s an LED light on the front of each speaker which indicates it’s status, depending on the red/blue combination.
The speakers support Bluetooth devices which have the A2DP profile, as well as those which you can adapt for that purpose. For instance, I used the Bluetooth dongle from the Plantronics Bluetooth headphones to connect my iPod, which worked perfectly. And because life hasn’t quite caught up with Parrot yet, they’ve supplied a line in connection and lead, so that non-Bluetooth players can be used with the speakers.
The speakers have a synch button on the front of each, as well as volume controls. However, you can control the volume from the player you’re using. I’ve found many other speaker systems don’t let you do this.
In terms of the sound you get from these speakers, 60W delivers you a decent amount of volume for a living room, and the bass is relatively clear. It won’t compare to the quality you’d get from a speaker manufacturer, but that’s not really the technology you’re buying here.
The speakers are wireless in as much as you don’t have to have them connected to an audio source, but there is still the power to consider. Each speaker needs to be close enough to a power source for the lead, and the two supplied are about 3 metres each. This isn’t something that any other manufacturer can remedy without a massive battery pack, but does need to be taken into consideration when you think "fantastic, completely wireless speakers" – it won’t be easy to lug it into the garden without an extension lead.
The controls on the speakers are minimal – there’s basically just an on switch and a volume control. Parrot obviously believe you’re going to use the controls on your player or phone to control the volume, since there’s no remote provided. This is fine, but in my case, since I use an iPod with a Bluetooth adaptor, means extra handling and grubbiness on the casing. The volume control is also slow to register – it’s a case of trial and error in trying to get a decent volume level since it doesn’t seem to adjust at the same speed you change it. This is similar when you’re changing tracks. There’s a definite lag.
The speakers support Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), a 2 channel stereo audio stream. Gradually, phone manufacturers in particular are ensuring their phones support this (LG and Motorola can both generally be relied upon). However, I use a Nokia N72, and the N Series isn’t compatible so I couldn’t stream music from my phone. I also had problems streaming from my computer. Despite installing the driver supplied on a CD from Parrot, and despite my computer recognising and connecting with the speakers, I couldn’t get it to play music through them.
The speakers only come in a lacquered white casing, although you have the option of keeping the black covers over the speakers themselves, or taking them off and displaying them. They snap back over the top using magnets, so it’s no fuss either way. However, the white finish might not fit in all living rooms, cover or no cover.
– Digital two-channel Class-D amplifier
– 60 W RMS power output per speaker
– 7band digital graphic equaliser
– Frequency range: 50 Hz – 20 kHz
– MP3*, MP3* decoder: 192, 160, 128, 112 Kbps
– SBC decoder: 320, 275, 250 and 150 Kbps
– RCA line-in input for all audio sources
– Power supply: 100 V – 240 V, 50 Hz and 60 Hz
In Our Opinion
I love the idea of wireless speakers – the reason I don’t have an overly complicated home stereo set up is because I’m fed up with the rats nest of wires I always seem to acquire every time I move house. The only detraction from these in the number of devices that actually work with these speakers. However, this is changing constantly as more and more manufacturers recognise the benefit, so buying these now will probably see them growing in use over the next year or so. They should be in shops now, although I’ve had difficulty finding them online. When they are in stick, they’ll retail for about £245.