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Hands on: Philips Wireless Hi-Fi speakers

Stream music from your PC or phone via a standard wireless router

Wireless speakers are obviously going to be big news this year. Philips’ new Wireless Hi-Fi range of speakers follows hot on the heels of announcements from Creative and Sonos. Unlike its rivals, which use Bluetooth and a proprietary mesh network respectively, the Wireless Hi-Fi system uses a standard wireless network.

There are three models in the new range. The smallest and cheapest is the AW3000, priced at £200, a compact unit that’ll comfortably fit on your bedside table but which puts out a surprisingly loud, clean sound at high volumes. The £300 AW5000 is similarly designed, but larger. All three speaker systems share the same diamond-shaped minimalist design.

The AW9000 is the flagship system and, at £500, it’s priced accordingly. It comprises two units, each of which has a pair of woofers positioned to crease the widest possible sweet spot in addition to a single centrally located tweeter. The AW9000 also has a variety of digital and analogue audio inputs to make it easy to connect to other audio sources.

Philips Wireless Hi-Fi - AW9000 internals

The AW9000’s speakers are positioned to create the widest possible sweet spot

The Wireless Hi-Fi systems all support internet radio streaming and Napster. Spotify support should also be in place by the time they hit the shelves.

We tried out the Airstudio control app on our Android phone – it’s also available for iOS. If you’re adding a speaker to your network for the first time, it helps you locate and name it. With that done, the app scans your network and pops up an icon interface showing you all the compatible speakers it detects on one side of the screen, while the other displays all the supported audio sources it can find, including DLNA media streams from PCs or NAS devices and iOS or Android devices running Airstudio. Then all you have to do is drag an audio source icon on to the icon representing the speaker you wish to play it through and select the music you want to play. Disconnecting the two is as simple as “cutting” the line joining them with a slice of your finger.

There are a couple of things we’d improve. It’s fairly easy to find the music you want to listen to, as you can sort it by artist, album and other tags, but navigating out of menus you’re already in can be a bit tricky. Some formats, such as OGG, aren’t supported and, although you can stream music from the same source to multiple Wireless Hi-Fi speakers, it’s not possible to have two speakers play the same track in sync with each other. However, Airstudio is certainly a massive improvement on the clumsy app that so frustrated us when we reviewed the Fidelio DS9.

For those who already have speaker systems with which they’re entirely happy, Philips will soon release the Wireless Hi-Fi Receiver AW2000, which has an integrated amp capable of powering a pair of stereo speakers at 2x50W RMS, and the AW1000 receiver, which allows you to stream audio to a set of powered speakers.

Also announced today were the Fidelio Primo DS9100 iOS device dock, which adds Apple Airplay support and a new acoustic design to the successful DS9000, and the Fidelio M1 headphones, which are an on-ear set designed to provide natural sound on the move, complete with closed drivers to help block out background noise.

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