Smart speakers are becoming more common as time goes on, so manufacturers are really turning to their designs to stand out from the crowd. Introducing the AKG Samsung VL3 wireless speaker, packed with some great features, and a funky design.
The design of the speaker itself is definitely one that’s going to appeal to those with a particular personal taste. I like it, but I can see why some people wouldn’t. It lacks everything that’s traditional about wireless speakers, and is a far cry from the usual setup we see like the Sonos Play:1.
It’s box design is relatively small, measuring at 21 x 21 cm with a depth of 7cm. It’s built from solid wood, with a metal mesh on the front. It has a touch sensitive volume dial on top as well as touch buttons down the right hand side to activate wired, Bluetooth or a wireless connection. It requires power from an included adapter and USB cable, and there’s no built in battery for portability.
It also comes with an included wall mount, which once on the wall, slots inside the covered rear panel. This speaker is shaped so intricately that it definitely deserves a place on display in your home. Be wary though, the plug’s cable is only around two meters long, and it’s hard wired into the adapter end. Take even more note, that if you mount it to the wall, plugging a cable into the 3.5mm aux becomes impossible.
What’s most interesting about this particular speaker is the fact it has a separate standalone dial which again is fitted with touch sensitive controls to skip track. You can rotate the whole dial to change the volume. To connect the two together was simple enough. Just click both ‘connect’ buttons on the speaker and dial and you’re there.
Connecting your VL3 speaker to your WiFi network is also pretty simple. It requires the Samsung SmartThings app which acts as the hub for all Samsung SmartThings compatible devices in the home. When you click add a device, it requires Bluetooth initially, but also prompts for your wireless credentials. I hooked it up to the main router in the house and away I went playing Spotify and also casting songs stored on my device directly to the speaker. It’s definitely the EASIEST speaker I’ve ever set up to my WiFi network, that’s for sure!
In terms of sound, Samsung AKG are claiming the speaker is able to upscale music sources to 32-bit. Bare in mind that CD quality is at 16-bit, and services like Spotify even less, unless you’re using Tidal of course, then you’re getting lossless audio. But even still, when playing a variety of music tracks from my Spotify playlist, I was impressed. But, compared to something like the new Riva Concert we’ve just checked out, bass is lacking. It’s present, it’s well controlled and doesn’t overpower, yet lacks punch.
My go to track ‘M.I.A Boyz’ just sounded empty with those big drum hits failing to follow through. However, when putting on some Beethoven’s 9th, the speaker began to shine, thanks to its ability to control higher frequency sound, making the music sound super crisp. Though when the drum roll kicks in during the opening few seconds, you’re instantly reminded that this speaker can’t sound as full as others we’ve heard so far. Some kind of rumble would have been nice.
The frequency range is between 35Hz – 22kHz and surprisingly, there’s a pretty hefty woofer as well as tweeters inside. And the fact that the whole thing is heavy as hell is a good indication that there are some quality speakers being used with some big magnets.
It’s a shame this speaker felt really under par. For a £400 unit, you would expect some pretty fancy sound. But unfortunately that is not the case. Samsung AKG have gone for style over substance here, and for some kind of kitchen background noise device, it works. But when you can pick up a couple of Sonos Play:1 for a stereo setup or even a Play:5 if you’ve got the room, makes the Samsung AKG VL3 a little redundant in the wireless speaker market place. Great for space saving though. Might be worth checking out the VL5 for something with a bit more bass. For more information, head over to the Samsung website.