Tonight at an event in Sydney Samsung displayed a new range of speakers set to bring the fight to the likes of Bose and Sonos. Three new speakers were announced, the R1, R3 and R5. R1 being the smallest and R5 being the biggest. These speakers have the potential to disrupt Sonos and Bose however on price we are fascinated by the R1, a $299 speaker that dollar for dollar matches the Bose SoundTouch 10 and the Sonos Play:1.
The new Samsung R1 is a speaker with bluetooth and wifi connectivity. It is controlled with an app on your smartphone as well as a companion app for the Samsung Gear S smartwatch and the Apple Watch. It will allow you to connect certain music streaming services and play your music immediately. So far, nothing completely unique. One feature though that is impressive is the fact that this range of speakers from Samsung will project 360 degree sound. This means that the speakers aren’t pointing in one direction and firing audio one way, they are firing all around the speaker. This is extremely useful when you are sitting around the speaker or when the speaker can be placed in the centre of the room. One issue with that however is that the R1 does require power so you’ll need an extension lead from the wall to really appreciate the 360 degree sound.
Enter the Bose SoundTouch 10. This $299 speaker was recently launched and works in a similar fashion with it’s features for music streaming, multi-room capabilities and smartphone control. The SoundTouch 10 is unique in a couple of ways, beyond volume controls and play/pause of the other two, this one adds buttons 1-6. Each number can be programmed for a particular preset which could be a Spotify playlist, a TuneIn Radio station, a Pandora playlist and so on. This way, walk into the house, push number 3 and your favourite Elton John playlist starts immediately. Friends over? Press number 6 and the best of John Farnham begins, program it your way, control it with a remote of via your phone also.
The Sonos Play:1, this is the God Father of wireless speakers. Sonos has been in this game for a very long time. Their focus is to deliver the audio experience from the musician straight to your ears without any processing in between. The Play: 1 is another $299 speaker (now, it wasn’t so cheap on launch) which is Wi-Fi only, missing out on bluetooth streaming and also requires power from the mains. It is small yet powerful and the app which supports it is the best of the three. There is a long list of music services available and Sonos is likely to have Apple Music support before anybody else. Sonos has also recently announced TruePlay to their line-up which allows you to tune your speaker appropriately for the room.
The wireless speaker market is extremely hot. At $299 there is a lot to be had and a lot of options, all are available now. Depending on your needs will impact which one suits you best. Once you make a choice on one, you will need to marry the brand if you want more speakers. Owning one of each is a very bad choice in terms of functionality as their apps don’t work across other speaker brands. In our house we have committed to one brand and as such have one in almost every room which works wonderfully grouped or solo. Our opinion is to always experience them in the store and make up your own mind, in any case you are unlikely to be disappointed.