Wren V3USP Speaker Review
|Pros||Beautiful aesthetics, great build, terrific sound, in a nicely sized package|
|Cons||PlayFi isn’t the greatest; the unit isn’t very portable, so we wouldn’t pay up for the “P” option; a black power cord would fit the units predominant color better; a bit expensive compared to some competitors|
|Summary||A beautiful and nicely constructed speaker, the Wren V3USP should definitely be in consideration for someone looking for a step-up option. Configurable in both vertical and horizontal set-ups, the Wren sounds great no matter where we tried it, and is a nice option for someone in the market for a medium sized wireless speaker.|
|Value||3.5 / 5|
|Performance||4.5 / 5|
|Overall||4 / 5|
|Drivers||2x 3" full range drivers, 1x 3.6” x 2.6” passive radiator|
|Streaming Services||Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, and more|
|Dimensions||4.5" x 4.5" x 12"|
|Review Date||June 22, 2017|
The Wren V3USP is a spectacular wireless speaker option, with stunning looks, terrific build quality, and sound that easily surpassed other wireless speakers I’ve used. The footprint of the Wren V3USP is countertop friendly and fits in many household locations. Streaming options are plentiful, and while we don’t think DTS Play-Fi is as refined or reliable as other platforms, it works well enough. The inclusion of both Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect give easy-to-use alternatives to Play-Fi. We think the Wren V3USP is a refined sounding unit, with the looks to match – we are confident that many users will be quite happy with this speaker.
Refined Build, More Approachable Package
I first heard of Wren through The Wirecutter – who spoke highly of the company’s first wireless speaker, the V5US. I was intrigued by what The Wirecutter had to say about both the looks and sound of the V5, but took pause at the footprint and cost of the unit. I was therefore very excited when Wren announced their second, smaller sized speaker, the V3US. Wren promised that this unit shared the same high-quality sound and construction of the original, but in a small box that could exist in both a horizontal and vertical configuration.
On unpacking, I am struck by not only the look of the unit but also the feel – which are both impressive. The V3USP is clearly designed with an eye towards aesthetics. With its natural wood finish, clean lines, and an appealing, understated appearance, it is hard to imagine that anyone will have difficulty with the look of the unit. The V3USP doesn’t just look good, it also feels very solid and well built.
From a feature standpoint, Wren interfaces over 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi via Play-Fi, Apple Airplay and Spotify Connect. The unit also has Bluetooth connectivity. There is also an auxiliary 3.5mm jack should you want to plug into the speaker directly. Wren sent us the V3USP version of the V3, which adds an internal battery for portability.
The V3USP works in either a vertical or horizontal position – which means the unit can fit in a variety of places around the house. There is no setting for horizontal versus vertical positioning, but the V3USP does include 3 Bass EQ settings to play with. We found these EQ settings to be useful for dialing in the unit in different installations – it’s easy (and worth) playing around with these to find out which sounds best within each installation.
Sound Matching Looks
I set up the Wren V3USP in exactly the same place as where our HEOS 3 lives – in the corner of our kitchen. As I mentioned above, the V3USP looks quite handsome – though the configuration doesn’t fit into corners as well as our the Heos 3 being a square and not a triangle. Unfortunately, despite the predominantly white coloring of the V3USP, Wren includes a black power cord, which doesn’t fit as well into a kitchen decor – we’d like to see a white power cord to match the aesthetics a little more seamlessly.
Setup is easy via the PlayFi app – which I use to not only connect the V3USP to my home network, but also rename the unit as “Kitchen”. This is my first experience with PlayFi and I’m not all that impressed with the platform – it works, but isn’t as clean or intuitive as other platforms I’ve used. Luckily, the V3USP also offers Spotify Connect and Apple Airplay, and both interface worked flawlessly for me with the V3USP. Both my wife and I exclusively interacted with the V3USP via one of these platforms relegating PlayFi to set-up only.
The Wren’s good looks are matched by terrific sound quality. This unit sounds fantastic across a wide variety of content, whether pop, rock or classical. Sound is full and balanced with plenty of detail. Quite simply, this is the best sounding wireless unit I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. The V3USP had plenty of horsepower as well, and sounded good not just in our kitchen, but also had enough power to fill our living room easily (13 x 22) – I’m confident it’ll play well in even bigger spaces.
As I mentioned above, Wren sent us the portable version of the V3, which includes an internal battery. I’d classify the battery as a nice feature, but probably not worth the extra cost. The V3 isn’t that portable with respect to size, shape or weight. If having portability is important to you, we think there are better options out there. You can connect to the V3USP via wifi or Bluetooth. Wren says that the battery can handle up to 9 hours depending on bass level and listening volume. I had no issues with a few hours of play but didn’t pressure test the entire 9 hours.
I have mentioned the Heos 3 a few times in this review – this is a speaker I’ve been using in my kitchen for nearly two years. The V3USP and the Heos 3 are similarly positioned with regards to size and footprint, though the V3US costs $100-150 more (depending on features). It’s clear when comparing the two that at least some of the delta can be accounted for in overall build quality. While the Denon Heos 3 isn’t a cheap feeling unit, the Wren definitely has a higher end, more refined look and feel. The Wren also not only sounds better than the Heos 3 but does so across a more varied set of positions (where the Heos 3 can sound boomy in the wrong position, the V3USP played nice across many different placements). All of this comes at a pretty hefty price increase vs the Heos – so we’d definitely consider the V3USP the “step-up” option.
From a software standpoint, it’s a bit of a toss up. While the V3US adds AirPlay, which allows for easier handoff of content if you are an iOS user, we prefer the Heos to PlayFi. Though neither interface is as good as more mature platforms like Sonos, Heos feels more fully baked than PlayFi and is cleaner, easier to use, and more reliable.
The V3USP is a terrific wireless speaker. It pairs wonderful looks and build quality with absolutely terrific sound for its size. The inclusion of Spotify Connect and Apple Airplay make up for the PlayFi – which is functional, but not as nice as more mature platforms. Though it costs more than some competitors, we think the money is well spent when considering all that the V3USP has to offer – highly recommended.