Avega: Wireless Is More

I've always said that cables might be the most important component in a system—after all, without 'em, you don't get much sound out of the whole schmear. Avega Systems is doing its best to make a liar out of me with its Oyster wireless loudspeaker.

The Oyster (price TBD, but probably in the $3000/pair neighborhood) uses the 802.11 wireless protocol, so that you can control the loudspeakers from any wi-fi computer network. Or, you can use the Oyster's USB input to run off your iPod, making the Oyster the most expensive iPod accessory I've seen at the show so far. The speakers have DSP and software controlled crossovers, as well as dedicated liner power amps for each driver—so, actually, the speakers aren't completely wireless, you'll need to plug them into the wall.

I could point out the advantages of not having to keep the computer in the same room as your, well, ears, for instance, but I'm sure all of you audiophiles are ahead of me on that one. The question you're probably asking is how do they sound?

I was surprised by how good the Oysters are. Stuart Bryce, Avega's chief technology officer, was quick to point out that the Oyster's final voicing has yet to take place, but the speakers were more than promising, when playing uncompressed .wav files. We heard depth and layering in several Diana Krall tracks—and sufficient detail to hear her lips (oh, those lips!) part when she enunciated certain phonemes. On "Walking On the Moon" by the Yuri Honing Trio, a track with which I'm quite familiar, the speakers lacked the dynamic slam I have heard from some of my favorite loudspeakers. The bass was a tad puddingly, as well. However, since you can tweak the crossover yourself, you might be able to tune these babies better into your room than the Avega guys did into a strange hotel room with 12 hours to set them up.

An innovative design, attractively packaged, and showing a lot of potential. I look forward to hearing 'em again.

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