Published on January 28th, 2015 | by Greg0
Phorus PS5: Play-Fi Meets AirPlay And Bluetooth
Imagine if your refrigerator could only keep specific, manufacturer-approved items cool. Or your shoes would only lace up if you also had the same company’s socks? We understand when razors require certain blades, and can even appreciate the business model behind it, but it’s frustrating when it comes to music and speakers. Wireless systems have become fragmented, with no dominant standard, though Bluetooth rules the one-to-one market and AirPlay and Sonos share the multi-room crown.
Mixed in there are proprietary protocols like the ones offered by companies like Korus, which uses a system called SKAA, along with others from Pure Audio and VEHO. They are mutually incompatible, which can be rough on the consumer. But one newer technology is gaining some prominence, with brands like Wren, Polk, Definitive Technology jumping onboard. When we last saw Play-Fi, it was being positioned as an Android alternative to Apple’s AirPlay, and now it’s really coming into prominence with the Phorus PS5 Wireless Speaker. This little guy combines Bluetooth (with even apt-X support), AirPlay, and Play-Fi into one unit, capable of audiophile-quality playback of up to 24-bit/192kHz FLAC lossless audio files. There’s built-in dual band 802.11n wi-fi, and you can connect on either the older 2.4 GHz or newer 5 GHz.
Truly cross-platform, we played music from our Windows PC, and iOS and Android smartphones (though there is no OSX version yet). You’ll want to download their app, which allows you full configuration and control over one (or multiple units) even across several rooms. The unit itself doesn’t weight too much- at only about two and a half pounds, it could almost be portable and we might’ve liked a battery-power option. It’s also fairly plain- matte black and silver- which means it blends into most homes but won’t stand out. In a kitchen or on a nightstand, the PS5 looks good and fits nicely, low-profile but with a pretty wide footprint. Onboard controls are easy to use, and there’s an auxiliary input if you want to go wired for some reason.
So, with all of the connectivity options and decent build quality, there’s one critical item left to be discussed: sound quality. Despite the compact size, there is a fair amount of power to be found beneath these grills. The Phorus PS5 also has excellent separation for a unit in this class, and hits the high notes with aplomb. Phorus is backed and owned by DTS, the company behind digital sound processing used widely, and here it helps accentuate some details, amping up sounds and making them a bit more crispy. It can even out some warmth, though, and we weren’t wowed by the bass. But if you haven’t settled on a wireless system yet, need something that can support your many different devices, and want some multi-room support, then the Phorus PS5 wireless speaker is a flexible and friendly addition. Available now, online and in stores, for around $230.