Event Coverage

First looks at Lenco's multi-room wireless audio system

By Marcus Wong - 9 Oct 2014

First looks at Lenco's multi-room wireless audio system

Make no doubt about it, wireless multi-room speaker systems are in, with speakers stalwarts NAB and PSB recently launching their wireless systems under a new company – Bluesound, and companies like Bose and Samsung already having launched their own multi-room systems earlier in the year.

Thus it should perhaps come as no surprise that Lenco should jump into the fray with their own set of wireless multi-room speakers, and we were on hand for the launch announcement and product demonstration of these impressive speakers that seem to be extremely well-priced.

Lenco has always been well-regarded for their audio products, and have been in the Hi-Fi and consumer electronics industry for almost 70 years, with a complete range of products from speakers to turntables to tablets. However, on this new line-up of speakers Lenco turned to Qualcomm to provide the wireless technologies, thus allowing them to tap on Qualcomm’s expertise. Specifically, the AllPlay smart media platform, which offers wireless streaming of local and cloud-based content across brands and supports both iOS as well as Android based devices.

The idea is to eventually control all your appliances through AllPlay.

With AllPlay, getting your speakers set up on the network is easy. You simply press the wps button on your router, and the wps button on the speaker, and the speaker should be added to your network, ready for action. If you have an older router, simply add the speaker via your browser.

Bluetooth is another connectivity option, though this takes away control via app as it then isn’t on the Wi-Fi network. The PlayLink range is compatible with NFC-enabled devices, making for fast pairing. Meanwhile, the PlayConnect box enables streaming to a connected speaker system, thus providing an easy way to link it to other wireless devices.

The PlayConnect will connect your regular speakers to the Wi-Fi network.\

The rear of the PlayConnect.

Going by a tag line of “When Hi-Fi turns Wi-Fi”, Lenco took advantage of the showflat layout to demonstrate the audio capabilities of their PlayLink 4 and PlayLink 6, two systems that differ only in size, power and flexibility.

Both systems are able to support and decode most audio file formats, and both support high-resolution lossless audio files of up to 24-bit/192kHz. Internet radio is also supported, with direct support for streaming services such as Spotify, Tunein and Qualcomm AllPlay Radio.

They also each use three drivers – an extended range woofer for powerful bass, and two high perfomance mid/tweeter drivers for the mid-range. We’re told these are offset at an angle of 6o for optimal stereo effect, and it certainly did seem to work from the brief listening session we enjoyed.

Small but powerful - the PlayLink 4.

The front of the PlayLink 4 - notice how there are no playback controls - it's all meant to be controlled via your phone.

The rear ports of the PlayLink 4.

We were first treated to a demonstration of Otherside by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, on a pair of PlayLink 4 speakers. These are smaller at 21 x 10.2 x 12.9cm, but come with a rechargeable 2200mAh battery that lets it operate for up to five hours on a single charge, allowing you more freedom in placement, and perhaps the option of using it outdoors via Bluetooth.

The PlayLink 4 units pump out about 40W of power, and in the enclosed environment of the showroom flat, that was more than enough power to fill the entire room. It was quite evident that these speakers were capable of pumping out even more despite their small size.

The PlayLink 6 is shockingly loud.

The PlayLink 6 is like an upsized PlayLink 4.

Same number of ports behind, but notice the switch that lets you select the channel the speaker plays (L,R or Centre).

Needless to say, with the larger PlayLink 6 (28 x 12.4 x 17.2cm) upstairs (it was a two-storey apartment mock-up), the 80W output was easily heard throughout the apartment, so suffice to say, these systems are well able to handle whatever you throw at them.

In terms of audio quality, our first impressions were that vocals were crisp, and the backing instruments were well-rendered, but we were also intrigued to find that the PlayLink speakers were designed so you could use two (or more) units to get true surround sound.

A switch at the back of the speakers lets you select which channel the speaker plays, and up to ten speakers can be linked together so you can bring more speakers into the mix if you so wish.

According to Lenco, you can create multiple audio zones via the app and control them simultaneously from different mobile devices if you wish, so everyone can have their own music in their own room (if they each have their own PlayLink), or the same song can be playing through the entire house. Apparently up to 50 users can be on the same network simultaneously, so everyone can be their own DJ!

The PlayLink 4 has a suggested retail price of S$388 (inclusive of battery), while the PlayLink 6 goes for S$488 and the PlayConnect box goes for S$238.

All three products will be available by the end of October at all authorized Lenco retailers.

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