EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Philips WACS7500 wi-fi music system
We reviewed Philips's new WACS7500 wireless music system back in February, but Philips came back to us and said there was a fault with our very early production sample.
So they sent us another one, and we decided to take another listen to see if the modification has made any difference.
Great looks, fine build quality; cost-effective and elegant way of wirelessly distributing music throughout the house
Doesn't sound good enough
£700 on a great-sounding, traditional system with all those wires? Or £700 on a sleek, sexy wireless unit that sounds iffy? The choice is yours
At least nobody bought one. When we ran the First Test rule over the Philips WACS7500 in our April issue, we loved it right up to the moment it started producing sound – then we went right off it.
Well, it seems that ours was such a hot-off-the-production-line exclusive that Philips had yet to identify a fault with the system. While it's coy about the nature of the fault and any steps taken to remedy it, Philips is adamant than none of the iffy products made it as far as retailers.
So if our three-star ho-humathon encouraged you to rush out and drop £700 on the '7500, rest assured that you didn't buy one like the one we reviewed. Yours is like the one we're reviewing right now.
Given the circumstances, then, the vast majority of our original findings still stand. The WACS7500 is a simple-to-use, stylishly finished, wi-fi-enabled audio system in two boxes.
Wireless music distribution
The larger 'hub' has an 80GB hard disk drive, CD player and FM radio – it's able to send music wirelessly to as many as five smaller 'clients' (your £700 buys the main unit and one client) and can join with your wi-fi network to send to or receive from your PC.
The hard disk stores music at between 128 and 320kbps, it should hold around 1500 CDs, and linked to a wireless network can access the Gracenote database for track info and artwork.
Its display is crisp and clear, and it forms a rock-solid wireless connection with even far-flung client units. The client unit itself is a smaller box, without CD player or hard drive, but party to all the information stored on the hub.
Whatever the shortcomings of the first WACS7500 we tested, they can't have been too deep-seated – this second example sounds broadly similar.
Stilted and inarticulate bass
Listening to the hub unit, which features four NXT panels and a downward-firing subwoofer, the low frequencies enjoy a little more solidity, but they're still stilted and inarticulate and still tend to overwhelm the midrange.
There's perhaps a little less clamour from the top end, but Neil Young's harmonica playing on Silver and Gold remains shrill and unforgiving in the Philips's hands. The client unit doesn't suffer from the same bass thickness, but that's simply because it doesn't have any meaningful low-end presence.
Ultimately, our opinion of this new, marginally-improved system has changed as little as the product itself. It's an elegant, well-executed multiroom solution without any obvious rivals, but it needs a bigger hard drive and, crucially, it just doesn't sound like £700-worth of hi-fi should.
Source: CD, FM, USB
Inputs: USB, RCA, wireless LAN, wired LAN