Phorus PS 1 Play-Fi Speakers Review
- Advanced dual-core digital signal processor
- 2 neodymium transducers
- Dual Class D digital amplifiers
- 90dB+ SPL
- 5.5in x 8.3in x 6.2in
- 140mm x 211mm x 158mm
- 802.11n Wi-Fi
- Push button set-up (WPS)
- Bluetooth (A2DP profile)
- USB 2.0
- What's in the box
- PS1 Speaker
- Power adapter
- USB-A to micro USB cable
- USB-A to mini USB cable
- Warranty and Quick Start Guide
- System Requirements
- Android 2.2 and later
- Play-Fi Android App (downloaded from the Market)
- 802.11g/n Wi-Fi router required for multi-room streaming
- 802.11b Wi-Fi router can stream to one Play-Fi device
There's a lot to talk about with the Phorus PS1 Play-Fi speakers, but first it's good to just know that they can really fill a room. I think there's not much below around 80Hz, and it's certainly not punchy in the bass department, but the PS1 speaker plays loud. I measured an average of about 89 dB SPL from three feet away using several pop tracks. That's close enough to the 90dB Phorus gives to make me want to trust the rest of their specs. The thing is, there's no audible distortion. It just maxes out and stops—as a powered speaker should. So we'll cover more of my listening tests later, but know that the Phorus PS1's impressed me right from the beginning.
And perhaps this is made all the more fascinating by the fact that, well, the speaker only measures around 8" wide by 6" tall. It has dual neodymium drivers powered by class-D amplification, and a large port in the back allows a good amount of admittedly non-tactile mid-bass to come through.
Where these speakers tend to stand out, is that they are made to use Play-Fi. Play-Fi is a technology developed by DTS. It lets you stream lossless audio, but it also monitors the stream to ensure no dropouts. These speakers are marketed to only be compatible with either Android devices or DLNA networked devices.
Android tablets can sit and charge while they play
That's right, all you iOS users can suck it—this is an Android party and you're not invited. Wait...that's like not inviting myself to a party... Well, anyway, anyone with a non-Android device can sync via Bluetooth or plug into the available Aux input--you just don't have a fully-functioning app to use to stream audio with. And if you want to use the Phorus in a whole-home or distributed audio configuration, you need the app.*
*We actually found out later that there indeed is an app for iOS users, but you we could not seem to use it to configure the Phorus PS1. Once it was set up on our network, however, the app controlled it just fine and allowed us to play music from a connected iPhone.
A pair of Phorus PS1 speakers can run two room for $398
So the other big deal with Phorus is that, for $200 each, you can scale the system and sync the playback of an audio source on up to four units at once. In fact, you can have up to 16 speakers or receivers on a single network, with 8 of those playing at any given time. Each Phorus can put out enough volume to easily fill a room, and it costs about $100 less than a Sonos Play:3 and half as much as a Play:5. That would make this a compelling product in that market were it not for the lack of features in the app.
The Android app for the Phorus is adequate for playing back music on your phone or tablet or a connected computer, but Pandora is the only other well-know music source you can stream from. It doesn't support Spotify, Google Music or any other apps—so in this way it's far less impressive than AirPlay.
You can charge your USB devices, but no audio is transferred over USB
On the back are two USB ports, including a micro-USB port. Unfortunately, they can't be used to connect a device for streaming music, they merely allow you to charge your devices...well, some of them. It's not a 2-amp port, so it won't charge an iPad for example. There is a 3.5 mm input for connecting a device using its analogue output. And there's Bluetooth if you get desperate, which won't transmit your music in a lossless format like Play-Fi will.
The Play-Fi app works, but it doesn't have many frills, including a dearth of streaming media services.
I was able to get the Phorus to stream music from my Archos 70b tablet to two rooms at once and the PS1 speakers do indeed produce room-filling sound. They aren't the best sounding desktop speaker I've yet heard, in fact the sound is a bit thick at times, perhaps due to the lack of serious stereo separation. The dual speakers are rather close. Bass is also not terribly deep, though mid-bass sounds pretty darn good. In any case, the PS1's present a serious value for quick distributed audio, and I think that Play-Fi has some serious potential. They just need more partnerships and better software. And for that matter, AirPlay, Play-Fi, Apple, Android...Can't we all just get along?
Our question for the day is: Do you you use either AirPlay or Play-Fi to stream audio? What's your favorite app for doing it? Let us know in the comments and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get updates on our latest videos. And Like us on Facebook to find out everything else we're up to, including new product reviews and tech tips.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.