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Philips Streamium WACS7500 Music System - Philips Streamium WACS7500
The Station's 15W amp and slightly inferior single flat panel set up is not, understandably, of the same quality as the Centre, but that's not necessarily a major issue. Rather than acting as your main music system, this box is more likely to sit in a kitchen or bedroom and it's much better suited to this environment than the Centre is to a living room - like the Centre, it can communicate music in an unfussed and unforced way that's perfect for background listening, though again bass isn't a forté.
The weaknesses aren't restricted to sound quality, though. For instance, you can browse the music library, but you can't queue tracks up while you're listening, so they'll play automatically when the current track finishes. This is something that the Squeezebox Duet and the Sonos Digital Music system implement brilliantly. Ripping is slow too: the Centre system reads discs at a sluggish 4x speed and, as a result, CDs take anything up to 20 minutes to finish. Plus, while you're ripping you can't do anything with the system - not even listen to FM radio.
There are some annoying peculiarities, too, such as only being able to access certain settings (network settings, Internet radio registration and track information editing) using the basic, one-way infrared remote rather than the easier to use two-way one. The fact that the main playback controls on the Centre and Station aren't backlit is also a pain: you have to really look hard to figure out which one does what if the lights are dimmed. And it's mildly disappointing that there's no AM or DAB radio.
Despite the weaknesses, I still think that the WACS7500 represents decent value for money. £700 essentially buys you not one music system, but two self-contained wireless hi-fi systems, each one capable of doing a decent job of streaming and playing music back in its own right.
Sound quality isn't magnificent though - if that's important to you, you're better off basing a system around the Squeezebox Duet or buying a complete Sonos music system - but it's perfectly acceptable for an all-in-one. Crucially, the WACS7500 offers a simple, stylish and elegant way of storing and streaming music at home. And it does that job pretty well.
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