John Carter, former head of Bose engineering, praises Wren’s V5US
I first met Mike Giffin, founder of Wren Sound Systems, about ten years ago when he was working for Harman International. In 2011, he told me he believed that the growing popularity of smartphones and streaming music services was going to change the way we listen to music and create an opening for a new brand to deliver a better WiFi-based audio experience at an affordable price. Thus Wren was born.
Given my long experience overseeing the development of audio systems at Bose, Mike wanted my opinion on his speakers; he recently invited me to audition the Wren V5US and to post a brief review on his blog, so here it is:
A Standout Wireless Speaker
The Wren Sound Systems V5US wireless speaker is a standout in a crowded field of products that claim to be the best solution for great sound delivered wirelessly. Having recently spent time auditioning V5US, I’ve found that Wren is one of the very few new generation digital audio companies to actually deliver on the wireless audio promise of clutter-free simplicity and real high fidelity. Wren accomplishes this by merging the traditional merits of great sounding speakers with the latest innovations in wireless connectivity.
Founded by Mike Giffin, a former Harman executive and longtime industry veteran, Wren has taken a fresh approach to convenient sound. For example, the company constructs its speaker cabinets with half-inch MDF and genuine hardwood veneers, integrating aesthetic beauty with beautiful sound. By rejecting the now common use of plastic for more traditional and expensive MDF, Wren produces enclosures that reduce unwanted sounds and provide superior rigidity for great low-end bass extension.
WREN = AirPlay + Play-Fi + Bluetooth
This choice of wood, married with exceptionally designed ‘midcentury modern’ aesthetics and combined with the skillful sound design of Wren’s CTO, John Crisco, results in a speaker with an impressive balance of tones from the bass at the bottom of the range, to the extended treble that this unit can deliver. I can tell you the sound is truly well crafted and lacks the coloration and exaggerated bass of its many competitors.
Not only does it look and sound great, it is easy to set up. The speaker comes with an array of input choices, augmenting lossless WiFi-based Apple AirPlay and DTS Play-Fi with Bluetooth and an aux input to allow direct connection to audio sources. The beautiful remote is made with aluminum and has a nice natural heft. Also, as fitting with a bespoke product, there is no unsightly wall wart and an exceptionally long extension cord – allowing easy placement anywhere in the house or office.
It Takes Craftsmanship
Audio is a science, but it’s also a craft. Science can tell us how to build audio products, but it takes craftsmanship to build really good ones that can convey the emotional impact of great music. Designers must balance the choice of materials, build quality, and electrical and acoustic components with proven system design methods and rigorous tuning techniques to deliver a great sounding, great looking speaker at any given size and price point. This balancing act requires judgment, experience, and critical listening skills. The Wren team clearly has demonstrated their ability to design and deliver high performance systems. The Wren V5US is an exceptional product and a great choice for anyone who would like to experience great sound in a beautiful package.
January 21, 2017
John Carter, Chief Engineer at Bose Corporation from 1977 to 1989 and co-inventor (with Dr. Bose) of the original Noise Cancelling Headphone.