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Vivanco CHS 5500 review

Child's play to use as well as being a pocket money price Tested at £150.00

Our Verdict

Fun, flexible and really good value, this speaker system is a real portable pleasure

For

  • Portable
  • great value for two zones
  • loud, enjoyable sound
  • works with any source

Against

  • By no means ‘hi-fi’ performance
  • some wireless interference

Wireless portable speakers seem to be all the rage these days.

In recent months we've had the excellent but pricey Soundcast Outcast, and the Fisher-Price-in-style-and-sound Grundig PSW5000. These Vivancos fit somewhere between the two, but perhaps Award-winner Sonos should be glancing over its shoulder, too.

The big news here is that you get two wireless speakers in the box. This isn't for greater stereo dispersion (though there's no reason you couldn't use them together for greater oomph, if you wanted), but so you can wirelessly pump audio to two zones simultaneously. And we reckon that's not bad for £150.

It's absolute child's play to get the system set up.
Plug the transmitter into your source using the 3.5mm jack, turn on the wireless speaker, and out pours music. Each speaker can be powered using the mains or six type-C batteries, and they have a range of 100m, so can be taken pretty much anywhere.

As a little added bonus, Vivanco claims the CHS5500 to be ‘drizzle and splash' proof, bringing the garden in as a tempting option for occasional listening.

In action, they're really not bad. Music is a bit cluttered and lightweight, but there's enough detail, clarity and volume for an enjoyable listen outside the main hi-fi room.

Our only gripe is that, despite the numerous broadcast channels for the 2.4GHz signal, we did experience a little more interference than we expected.

Admittedly, our testing rooms and offices have thickened walls and an abundance of wireless products, but the little Grundig system dealt with it better.

In terms of sound quality and value for money, though, the Vivanco is a far more tempting proposition than the Grundig.

Release the Vivanco's full potential
Especially when you start to fiddle with the system and realise its full potential. For example, a good way to set up the system is to split the signal from your source (CD player or laptop, say) to feed the Vivanco transmitter and your main system in the lounge. Then locate one Vivanco speaker in a bedroom and another in the kitchen. This creates an instant three-zone system, with your main room still being fed by your decent system.

At this price, you could add a couple more zones and not feel the pinch too hard. When you consider the price of higher-end rivals - such as the Sonos Music System, which starts at £700 - you realise what a bargain the Vivanco system is.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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