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PSB Alpha iQ review: Not so big but definitely clever

Our Rating :
£1,099.00 from
Price when reviewed : £1099
inc VAT

The PSB Alpha iQ is a diverting option that combines rousing sound with extended functionality, discreet dimensions and very agreeable build


  • Extended functionality in two compact boxes
  • Animated, direct and enjoyable sound
  • Nicely made and available in various finishes


  • Slightly bass-happy
  • Can sound relentless in the wrong circumstances
  • Some very capable competition

Canada’s PSB has five decades and more of loudspeaker experience – so producing a pair of speakers that operate as an entire audio system is a logical next step. And there’s no two ways about it, the PSB Alpha iQ system has the looks, the specification and, in many ways, the sound quality to create waves in the market.

It’s compact enough to be reasonably discreet. It’s built to the standard that both the market and the asking price demand. It’s available in quite a few decorative colours that will complement a wide range of interior design choices. And its across-the-board specification is thoughtful and wide-ranging, so it’s ready to function as a system no matter your source. 

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It’s got a very specific sound, too, which is likely to entice plenty of potential customers. Lively, direct, positive and notably confident where the lower frequencies are concerned, the Alpha iQ is ready to make even the most casual listen into a party. It’s as energetic and attacking a listen as you could wish for.

That’s not going to suit everyone, however. Some people are as interested in a relaxing listen as they are in an invigorating listen – the PSB Alpha iQ isn’t going to be for them. It’s here to have a good time, and it’s going to do its utmost to make sure you have one too.  

PSB Alpha iQ review: What do you get for the money?

The Alpha iQ represents PSB’s first foray into a currently very modish market, one that seeks to build a complete audio system into just two speakers and one that’s getting more competitive every day. 

In physical terms, it may not look like your £1,099 buys you a great deal of anything. Each speaker is a modest 15 x 19 x 25cm (WDH) – so is small enough to sit happily on a shelf or even, at a push, a desktop. Cabinet construction is well up to par – they’re mostly MDF, with a slice of aluminium covering the rear baffle and some more aluminium behind an MDF top layer for the front.

There are no curves or soft edges here, but the Alpha iQ nevertheless look the part – and the fact that they can be had in ‘Dutch’ orange, ‘Tangerine’ yellow or ‘Midnight’ blue matte finishes as well as the more traditional black or white doesn’t do any harm either.

Each speaker requires mains power, of course, and so there’s a figure-of-eight socket on each rear panel. Once powered, the two speakers connect wirelessly with one another, with the primary partner in charge and the secondary partner doing as it’s told. 

The primary speaker can deal with wireless sources via Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay, Spotify Connect and TIDAL Connect, and also supports Bluetooth with aptX HD codec compatibility. It’s a Bluetooth transmitter as well as a receiver, so can easily be used with wireless headphones. 

There are also physical connections here: an Ethernet socket, USB-A slot, stereo RCA sockets leading to a moving-magnet phono stage for use with a turntable, a 3.5mm analogue input, a digital optical socket, and an HDMI eARC input. So the Alpha iQ is ready to support quite an extensive system, up to and including a TV and its associated sources. There’s also a pre-out for a subwoofer.

Each speaker features a 102mm polypropylene mid/bass driver with a steel basket and rubber surround, above a 19mm aluminium dome tweeter. The tweeter sits behind a waveguide that’s the only place you’ll see any PSB branding. Frequency response is quoted at 64Hz – 20kHz, generated by 30W of Class D power per tweeter plus 60W for each mid/bass driver. 

In addition, each speaker features 24bit/192kHz digital-to-analogue conversion circuitry and an active DSP-based crossover between its drivers. According to PSB, positioning the tweeter below the mid/bass driver makes the speaker more accommodating of a place higher up in your listening room – but the fact that each speaker has a rear-firing bass reflex port means you’ll have to take a bit of care with placement regardless.  

The primary speaker has a couple of touch-sensitive surfaces on its top panel, covering off volume and playback controls. But the bulk of system control comes via version 4.0 of the extremely adept BluOS Controller app. All the nuts and bolts are available here in a clear, logical and stable fashion – and you can also integrate your favourite music streaming services, set up a multi-room system using appropriate products, and access internet radio. 

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PSB Alpha iQ review: What did we like about them?

It’s too much to expect the PSB Alpha iQ to sound identical through each of its numerous different wired and wireless inputs, of course – but you’ve got to admire the consistency of its sound no matter the sort of stuff you’re listening to or from where it is derived.

In the course of my critical listening, sources included a wireless TIDAL stream via an iPhone 14 Pro, vinyl from a hard-wired Cambridge Audio Alva TT2, compact disc via a Rega Apollo and a Netflix stream from a Philips OLED808. Music included Stereolab’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Powders by Eartheater and Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, and I listened to the soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And every time, the Alpha iQ was an energetic, articulate and thoroughly entertaining performer.

Yes, it can analyse a recording and return with plenty of information regarding the finest, most transient details. It can establish a big, properly organised soundstage and keep every element of a recording securely positioned on it. The metal tweeter can offer just as much crunch and bite as it does finesse, and do so without getting hard or edgy even if you like to listen loud.

The mid/bass driver lets a singer communicate with real directness and positivity, loads their performance with a lot of information, affords them the space to fully express themselves, and controls the low-frequency stuff well enough to keep rhythms sounding natural. There’s a meaningful amount of dynamic headroom available, so big shifts in attack or intensity are reported in full, and lower-level harmonic variations are identified and contextualised too.

But most of all, the PSB Alpha iQ sounds fun. It sounds engaged and energetic and gives every indication that it appreciates your favourite music as much as you do. It’s got a front-foot attitude that makes it sound vital and exciting in almost every circumstance.

PSB Alpha iQ review: What could be improved?

In absolute terms, the Alpha iQ push low-frequency information further forward than is ideal. They can overstate bass sounds even in the best circumstances – and if they’re unsympathetically positioned, that rear-facing reflex port can stick its oar in to an uncomfortable degree.

Bass sounds share a commonality of tone with the rest of the frequency information, it’s true – so the overall presentation never sounds less than unified in this respect. But the rather forceful nature of the low-end response can get quite wearing over time – and not all that much time if you listen at significant volume.

There’s a degree of aggression about the overall sound here, too, that’s not always appropriate. It’s not a problem if the music you’re listening to demands a little intensity, but if it has plenty of intensity of its own then it can become problematic. The Alpha iQ’s default stance of energy and attack can become compounded, to the point that it feels rather relentless.

PSB Alpha iQ review: Should you buy them?

If you value energy, vigour, and an up-front nature in the way your music is reproduced, you’ll find a gregarious and exciting system here – and that’s true no matter what you listen to or how you source it. 

Even if the PSB Alpha iQ seems a little bit much in its overarching sonic signature, it’s still a properly compact, flexible and well-specified all-in-one (or all-in-two, to be strictly accurate) that’s nicely made and finished and is available in quite a few different colours that could work well for you. Unless the description of the way it sounds has already made you a bit fatigued, it’s well worth auditioning.  

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