Piega Premium Wireless 701 wireless loudspeaker system

For the first time in the two years I've been living in this apartment building, I've received a noise complaint from a neighbor. Coincidence?

As it happened, yes it was a coincidence. True, my music was pretty loud, and the bass from the Piega Premium Wireless 701 loudspeaker system ($7495/pair) was anything but reticent, especially considering the tower's sleek appearance. But I was not the source of the specific noise that caused the complaint. That was the sloppy bass from another neighbor's inferior sound system. (The bass from this Piega system isn't sloppy.)

And yet, when I heard the complaint, I thought it was me. I assumed I'd been enjoying the Piega system a little too much, or a little too loudly.

Premium wireless
The active Piega 701 originates from a passive version of the same speaker. The wireless version adds DSP and 200W of class-D amplification, which Dominik Züger, Piega's research and development lead, told me was outsourced to an electronics-specialist partner. Züger joined me for a Skype conversation from his home in Switzerland, where he was sheltering in place to avoid COVID-19.

The 701 speakers are sleek, two-and-a-half-way towers, neither dinky nor outsized. They're big enough to make big sound—surprisingly big—but small enough to be suitable for a small apartment; in fact they'd look great in a modern apartment with a view looking out over the city.

The quality of the cabinets is high: The enclosures are extruded from a single piece of solid aircraft-grade aluminum in a process Züger amusingly described as "almost like making pasta but with just a little more force."

720piega.1

Beyond a modern-luxe aesthetic, extruded aluminum has other benefits. Extrusion can yield a seamless, curved cabinet, with no right angles or hard edges, which minimizes standing waves, reduces diffraction, and distributes and controls reflections. Aluminum is a very good material for damping internal vibrations, and aluminum sidewalls only need to be about an inch thick to achieve the same strength and stiffness as roughly two inches of wood. (Though made mostly from aluminum, the 701s do have wood in them: a wooden matrix for extra bracing.) For a given external size, aluminum allows more inside volume—or, conversely, the same internal volume can be achieved with a smaller size. "We get more volume into the speaker and it still doesn't look big," Züger said.

At 62lb each, the 701s are not excessively heavy: Maneuvering them out of their shipping boxes, which open vertically for easier unpacking, and positioning them in my room posed no serious problems and little hernia risk.

Plenty of speakers have grilles that attach discreetly with hidden magnets. The Piegas' grilles stand out for both the discretion and strength of the magnets: They are so strongly and invisibly connected that at first I assumed they were wedged permanently into the aluminum cabinet's edges, or perhaps screwed on from the back—until Züger set me straight. I was able to use the edge of a plastic membership card to separate the strong magnets, gently prying away at one corner; after that corner was free, the others followed effortlessly. (Because of the demagnetization risk from such strong magnets, it's best to avoid using an active credit card.)

The 701's driver complement comprises a ribbon tweeter on top and two 5.5" woofers beneath, positioned one above the other. The cones of the bass/mid drivers are made by an unspecified source of "a synthetic multicompound material" and customized to Piega's specifications, Züger said. Both drivers are in the same front-ported volume, and both produce the lowest frequencies. The top driver also covers the midrange an much of the treble, handing off to the tweeter at 3200Hz. Highs are provided by the 701 ribbon tweeter designed by Piega and made by hand at the company's factory near Zurich.

Only Connect
When I first encountered this system at the 2020 Florida Audio Expo in Tampa, it appeared that the Piega Connect box, which is needed to send music wirelessly to the loudspeakers, is sold separately; MoFi, the distributor, announced that those who bought the speakers at the show would get the Connect box for free. Now MoFi says that all US dealers are bundling the Connect box with the wireless 701s.

720piega.connect

Together, these components form the foundation of a two-channel music system (only a source is needed). For a multiroom setup, just add more Connect boxes and more Piega wireless speakers.

You can also add a subwoofer via the Connect's analog output—there's a "delay block" on the analog-out to offset wireless latency and keep the analog and wireless outputs in sync, and the analog-out's volume is pegged to the digital volume. Züger recommends that users download and deploy a special firmware version for the Connect box to access preset crossover settings if they plan to add a subwoofer.

The Connect's main function is to send music wirelessly to the 701 speakers. It does this via a proprietary wireless system, KleerNet, which operates separately from your home Wi-Fi system. "It sets up its own wireless connection to the speakers so it's fully independent," Züger told me on our Skype call.

The simple, compact Connect box offers both wired and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless inputs, with Qualcomm's proprietary aptX audio codec. For wired, there's unbalanced (RCA) analog (ahead of an A/D converter), and for digital, S/PDIF via TosLink and RCA. There is no USB. The analog-to-digital converter inside the Connect utilizes an "off the shelf" chip DAC that supports bit depth and data rates up to 24 bits and 96kHz. Züger said that digital sources are preferred to analog ones, as this saves an "extra" conversion step inside the box (and also, for digital sources, another conversion step inside the digital source). You can control the volume of the 701 system via buttons on top of the Connect box—although Züger said that it's anticipated that most customers will use a source with its own volume control.

720piega.connectbac

On back are additional tiny control switches: One allows the user to select Variable and Fixed volume options; the latter bypasses the internal digital volume control. Similar switches allow you to select the loudspeaker group—the Connect can control up to three groups—and one of three wireless frequencies. Another allows source selection between the Connect's three wired inputs, although Bluetooth overrides the wired sources whenever a Bluetooth source is connected. The fit'n'finish of the small, square, lightweight Connect is basic—in sharp contrast with the stylish, substantial 701 loudspeakers.

DSP is employed in the 701 system for several purposes. Bass output can be contoured—for neutral, near-wall, or corner placement—via a toggle switch on the back of the 701s; Züger told me that these settings provide a "gentle" bass rolloff based on frequency-response measurements taken in Piega's large listening room. Considering my listening room's fairly large dimensions, I used the neutral setting for most of my listening for the most abundant bass. My neighbors noticed.

COMPANY INFO
Piega SA
US distributor: MoFi Distribution
1118 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 738-5025
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be JM could also review the B&W Formation Duo wireless speakers, under $5,000/pair, including stands ...... B&W also sells Formation Audio, a Connect like box for additional $700 :-) ......

JRT's picture

It might have been intetesting to compare active to passive, this "Piega Premium Wireless 701" active DSP filtered loudspeaker compared to the "Piega Premium 701" conventional passive loudspeaker connected to suitable electronics with neutral sonic character.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

True ... The ribbon tweeter in this Piega seems to have some problems as the measurements show ..... B&W Formation Duo uses conventional dome tweeter ..... B&W may not show those tweeter problems :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

B&W formation Duo is also about $2k less expensive, (even adding the Formation Audio box) than the Piega wireless speakers :-) .....

JulieAudiophile's picture

Hi Bogolu, thanks for your suggestion. I'd be interested in hearing this system.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is that wheeled cart with all those bottles in the JM's listening room? :-) .......

JulieAudiophile's picture

Haha. No, it isn't. That photo was supplied.

remlab's picture

One of the most intriguing speakers out there, and would be a real treat to get Piega to submit a pair for review. Hopefully it would perform better on the CSD than this one did, though.
As a side note, it takes 8 hours to hand assemble just one coaxial drive unit!

JRT's picture

https://www.stereophile.com/content/piegas-new-loudspeaker

smileday's picture

I think normalizing to response on tweeter axis is not good, especially because the response on tweeter axis is not shown to readers. What is shown to readers is an alleged on-axis response averaged across 30° horizontal window.

lenslens007's picture

Once you have got used to hi-res music, and have a system that uses high frequency time-accurate reproduction, you would not want to go back to the low bandwidth and jitter introduced by using a TOSLink connection to push digital audio, rather than using a USB audio connection to pull audio, jitter free.

X