WAE WSM01 Hercules Portable Wireless Speaker Preview
- Product Name: WSM01 Hercules Portable Wireless Speaker
- Manufacturer: WAE
- Review Date: October 29, 2012 21:00
- MSRP: $300 (estimate)
- First Impression: Pretty Cool
- Wireless 2.4 GHz
- 20 m range
- RF remote control and USB dongle
- Frequency response: 50 Hz - 20,000 Hz
- *20 hours of battery life at 73 dB SPL @1m
- Peak power: 25 W
- Powered by rechargeable Lithium polymer battery or power adapter
- RoHS standard-compliant product
- Speaker dimensions : 249 (H) x 236 (W) x 171 (D) mm
- Wireless 2.4 GHz
To be honest, when we saw the WAE (Wireless Audio Experience) WSM01 Hercules portable speaker, we weren't exactly blown away. Yet another in a long line of portable/wireless speakers that you can use to distribute music around your home or take with you on the go. Not that anyone does that but it makes it possible. But then we took a closer look at the company and their strategy became clear. While this is the first speaker they are shipping (not that we can find a US price for it), they have others in the works that look to be much more interesting.
First, the WSM01 is a two channel speaker in a single "looks just like a bar stool cushion" enclosure. It has a fairly impressive 20+ hour battery life, a carrying handles, and a 3.5mm jack on the back for plugging in your MP3 player/phone directly. Wirelessly, it connects via 2.4GHz to a USB dongle in you PC, Mac, or Linux computer. WAE promises on-board equalization for better sound though it doesn't seem to be configurable. Wireless sound latency is promised at less than 16 milliseconds and a sustained SPL of 73dB at 1 meter for the full 20+ hours of the battery life. This is described as "medium volume".
In the center of the WSM01 is the removable remote. Small and round, we like the elegant design. The remote controls volume (up/down/mute), track (next/previous), and power. As the USB dongle is recognized as a sound card, we're not sure if you need to be running a specific audio program for the track controls to work. WAE promises a frequency response down to 50Hz though no specifics are given on that number.
It would have been nice to read that multiple WSM01's can be fed from the same USB dongle but it doesn't seem to be the case. What was interesting was the other wireless speakers on the horizon from WAE. The BTP02 looks nearly identical to the WSM01 but is Made for iPod/iPhone certified. Counterintuitively it doesn't use AirPlay in favor of Bluetooth. You can control the speaker with WAE's remote app for iOS giving you complete control over the speaker's power, equalizer, audio settings, and volume. You can also view the speaker's battery and stream web radio. The BTP02 will retail for $299.
Next up is the WBT06 - the self-described "audiophile" offering from WAE. Looking like an oval version of the WSM01, the WBT06 steps up the power from 25 watts to 90. It supports the dongle of the WSM01 plus Bluetooth and Made for iPhone certification. The WBT06 has two rear ports for increased bass extension. The WBT06 will retail for $370.
The BTP05 differs from the other offerings in that it is rectangular rather than round/oval. While it again uses Bluetooth, the BTP05 is designed to work best with Android devices supporting APT-X for higher-fidelity Bluetooth streaming, the WAE app on your Android device will give you control of the speaker identical to the iOS version. For some reason the Android speaker only has a 12 hour battery life. The BTP05 will retail for $250.
The BT03 is the compact version of the BTP05 without the Android specialization. It is Bluetooth streaming capable, is only 9.3" long, and is compatible with the WAE remote app. This smaller speaker comes with the much smaller price tag of $130. All of the speakers feature a 3.5mm jack for use on the go.
Regardless of your smartphone or tablet preference, WAE (Wireless Audio Experience) has a portable speaker for you. Their first offering, the Hercules WSM01, uses a USB dongle to connect to your PC/Mac/Linux computer via 2.4GHz. That's right, Linux. That should tell you something about how universal WAE is trying to be. On the horizon look for Made for iPhone certified and Android compatible modes. Even an offering targeting audiophiles. Whether you are looking for a desktop model or something to take to the beach, WAE is looking to provide want you want.
For more information, please visit www.hercules.com.