The Wren V5US: A Small Speaker with Universal App-peal

Wren recently expanded its successful V5 wireless sound system line with the addition of the V5US, which is the first of the Wren line to be compatible with multiple wireless platforms: AirPlay, Play-Fi, and Bluetooth. According to Wren, the V5US is the only Apple certified multi-platform speaker. The V5US functions as a stand-alone bookshelf speaker, or can be connected to up to eight other speakers in a multi-room and multi-zone system. I got to check out the V5US recently, and put it through its paces.

The Wren V5US is able to connect not only through the Wi-Fi, Play-Fi, and AirPlay platforms, but also via AptX Bluetooth and direct ⅛” analog. Although there are controls neatly arranged on the side of the chassis, the US also includes a small metal remote that enables you to power the US on/off, toggle through inputs, adjust volume, and when connected wirelessly, play, pause, and mute as well.

Getting the Wi-Fi set up was a simple enough process through the free-to-download Play-Fi app (this also enables the AirPlay connection as well, you just need to switch music apps), and the Bluetooth connection was a seamless procedure as well. Unfortunately, as I only had access to one Wren unit, I can’t speak on setting up zones with multiple speakers. However, if the speakers easily connect, it generally has more to do with software and the strength of the home wireless system than the speaker itself.

With the same wood cabinet and sleek minimalist design as the rest of the V5 line, at first glance the US differs only in finish options (US is available in Almond Creme Anigre or Espresso Wenge, whereas the remainder of the line have the options of Bamboo or Rosewood). In fact, the US also has the same audio components as the others: two 3” throw drivers with 4 layer voice coils that are assisted by a stereo bass reflex design, and two 19mm soft dome tweeters powered by the 50 watt D2 Audio DSP-controlled digital amplifier.

As a result, the US has a similar sonic profile to the other offerings in the V5 line. The higher frequencies are slightly pronounced in the 10kHz range, which adds an icy edge and a slight sibilance to sounds that, some might find to be a tad much, whereas others may find it pleasingly crisp, depending on their tastes and sensitivity.  

The low frequencies do have some oomph, especially for the size of the Wren, and the US has three bass EQ modes to choose from. Wren says that the settings are designed to either: add extra bass to the mix when the US is free standing, a more moderate level when near a wall, and an even lower level for when positioned in a corner. Personally, I found that at its most intense, the bass could lean into the somewhat one-note territory, but that isn’t uncommon in speakers in this mid-size range. Impressively, despite the volume, the Wren didn’t have chassis noise, possibly because of the rubber dampening pad on the base of the unit.

Because of the high/low end boost, the mids in the US have a scooped feel which is most noticeable when playing rock, or other layered and sonically dense music. (Acoustic folk, for example, doesn’t have the same mid-dampened quality.) This isn’t to say that mids are poorly formed or represented, they are simply lower in the mix than one might be accustomed to hearing in larger speakers.

Small frequency response quibbles aside, for the size and the cost, the Wren V5US really sounds great, and the versatility of being able to connect via multiple platforms makes it a good investment, especially if you plan on expanding to more rooms and zones down the line. And with a small footprint of about 6”x 4”x 17”, finding new places to put a Wren speaker is even more tempting.



The Wren V5US retails for $499 and is available on WrenSound.com.