The end result is a strange mish mash of the great and the distinctly average. On the one hand there’s a boxy, closed-in boominess to music. On the other, the electrostatic speakers create moments of true clarity and excitement. Ben Folds’ You To Thank, for example, kicks off with a real spring in its step with notes leaping out at you, but once the simple piano refrain gives way to complex chords and the tempo picks up, the sharp edges are rounded off, swamped by overbearing bass. The unit can’t create an amazingly wide sound stage either, as the speakers are a mere hand span apart and can’t be detached.
On the plus side the satellite system, while afflicted with similar foibles, doesn’t do a bad job of imitating its base station big brother. In other words, there’s not too much degradation in sound quality moving down from the bigger unit.
Despite the niggles I loved the convenience of being able to access my entire PC’s music collection in several rooms in the house at once. The system is very easy to set up at first, especially for those without a PC, and though it doesn’t boast the best possible sound quality for the money it’s by no means disastrous. I’d be happy to own one as a second music system – one for the bedroom, perhaps, and one for the kitchen.
There’s no doubt that the WACS700/05 does have plenty of shortcomings, some of them serious, which may well put some prospective customers off. But if you’ve just got to have a wireless multi-room system and don’t want to shell out the £900-plus starting price for a Sonos system, it’s one of the most cost-effective ways of doing it on the market right now, even at £539.