Reviewed: Samsung R1 WAM

Music not only soothes the savage beast, it eases the anxiety of many an introvert such as myself. Most of the time, anyway. As anyone even remotely concerned about audio can tell you, speakers can make or break a listening experience. And in a world where everyone and their uncle can make and market an audio device, it’s a bit of a risky proposition to jump on the first one you see. Samsung, not necessarily the first brand we think of when we talk about speakers, has stepped up to the plate with the WAM1500.

Design 5.0 / 5.0
I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of this cylindrical design. It’s elegant, has a small footprint, and does a lot to throw the sound around. A soft fabric screen surrounds the body of the device, and it has a single cable for power. The top is a smooth, capacitive control surface with a single indicator light, in keeping with its minimalist theme. I do appreciate how people tend to stare at it for a little while, wondering what it is, right until I get my playlist running. Simple and elegant. They got that just right.

Hardware 4.5 / 5.0
Apart from Bluetooth connectivity, the WAM1500 comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and both 2.4 and 5GHz support, and hi-res audio. Bluetooth can also be used in conjunction with Wi-Fi, to stream music from a Bluetooth source, to the speaker, and then to other Wi-Fi speakers in the network. Apart from connectivity, the R1, smallest of the line, packs a single tweeter and woofer, in a reasonably small footprint. It does have an external AC adapter, but that can always be kept tucked neatly away in a corner. It can handle AAC, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, and WMA music formats, and works well in conjunction with its companion app.

User Experience 4.5 / 5.0
I’ll be upfront about this. The speakers shocked us with how good they sounded. That isn’t to say we expected them to sound bad, just that we were shocked at the clarity that they brought to the table. It’s not the deepest sounding speaker out there, but that’s a good thing in this case. If you’ve read any of my reviews on audio devices, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of letting the mids shine through a track. These speakers do just that, but without completely sacrificing the bottom end, which remains full, even at weaker volumes. Whether it’s the internal volume of the speaker, or some technical wizardry Samsung has chosen to employ to get this to happen, it’s quite effective. It’s about as happy to play electronic music as it is giving you a dose of classical. This is a good thing, as the supporting app, with its 10 digital streaming services make sure you’re not at a loss for things to listen to.

It’s dead easy to set up, which I appreciate, and allows for painless pairing thanks to an easily accessible set of controls at the top. Connecting the device to your Wi-Fi network is simple. Just power it up and make sure it’s on the right mode, find it with the app, and you’re set to listen to your heart’s content.

The controls are easy. Should you need to pause the music, just give the top a tap, and it is happy to oblige. Turning the volume up or down, as well as changing tracks is just as simple and intuitive, though you’re going to hit it accidentally trying to move the thing around, though it’s likely to stay in a single spot all the time anyway, thanks to its circular design. While audio purists will never truly be happy with a single speaker, for solo, or a multi-room setup, this is a great option.

Value 5.0 / 5.0
One of the things we really loved about it though was the price. With a sticker price of just about PHP 7,000 (lower if you look elsewhere), we were completely floored. While clearly, there are other speakers with greater features or performance, the fact that this sounds as good as it does, at this price point is just astounding. Upon hearing it over testing, I actually have a friend who went out and bought two, and I honestly think he did the right thing.

Bottomline:
For multi-room use, or a small space, this is a great option that won’t break the bank.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE March 2017 Issue
Words by Ren Alcantara

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