Sony SRS-X88 – The speaker to rule them all!
Can Sony’s new streamer break in on a crowded market?
The SRS-X88 is a recent release in a full line up of HD wireless speakers, tailored not just for easy music streaming but the first in the industry to be built with HD music in mind, after all you want all those tunes to sound the best they can be right?
Having spent a lot of hands on time with the speaker it’s a major win, but it is fraught with niggles, easily cast aside when you learn to overlook their dodgy smartphone controller app.
It supports a full suite of streaming from, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Google Cast, DLNA and even good ol direct USB input, between all of these you will definitely find some way to connect up your devices and depending on what you’re doing with them totally changes the way you need to hook up.
This is a relatively easy one, I recommend doing this using the smartphone app over your wifi router, which you will need to point to the media source on each listening session… Annoyingly the speaker / app doesn’t remember this for your next play session. You can connect using bluetooth, but wifi frees you from being tethered to the speaker so you can walk around / take calls without having your music interrupted when you move around your home, particularly if you’re hosting a party and you want to just throw some music on.
My favorite is to have the app choose the DLNA media server running on my desktop pointed at all of my high-def audio. You can of course stream from Spotify but you will need a subscription to do this, as Spotify prevents you from streaming with a free subscription.
iTunes is also a pleasant experience, be it on Windows or OSX, letting you simply hit the AirPlay button in the top let and your music will automatically start streaming.
The other major advantage is being able to use the speaker to augment your tablet or laptop speaker, fortunately if you connect over bluetooth you will automatically connect to the speaker when your device starts (or at least the Windows 10 computer did).
Now you might think this as easy as listening to music for the times you want to kickback with your tablet but have some decent audio, however there are some major caveats to this, you can only do this over a direct bluetooth connection as AirPlay has a built in two second delay in it’s protocol and there’s no way round this. By connecting your laptop over bluetooth all of your movies and games will benefit from being streamed over loud and clear.
Beating the competition
You can see our initial video review of the SRS-X88 and how the competition stacks up
Although launching their new Play 5, Sonos aims at marketing you with reasons with why you need multiple speaker systems, so you know, you spend even more of them, lets face it unless you happen to live in a 4 bedroom house, you don’t need more than one speaker in that cramped city flat. Now remember there’s no HD music support…
The LG is quite a nifty system even winning Which? awards, however the speaker output caps out at 70w compared to 90w for the Sony. The main selling point is that the music seamlessly follows you via tracking the NFC connection on your phone between rooms… again, you really won’t be needing this in a small city flat. The LG does support HD audio in the sense it’s compatible the system hasn’t been designed from the ground up to support HD tunes like the Sony has.