MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
Lenco PlayLink6 wireless speaker
A good entry point if you're after something that can handle high-resolution audio playback
- Excellent sound
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth operation
- Supports high-resolution audio
- Buttons aren't great
- App could use some improvements
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
What’s great about the Lenco PlayLink6 is that it can function either as a Bluetooth speaker on its own standing, or form part of a multi-speaker, multi-room system in Lenco’s ecosystem. It’s the model above the PlayLink4 that we have already reviewed, and it can put out a bigger sound than that speaker, with the aim of filling a large room.
Aesthetically, the PlayLink6 looks almost identical to the PlayLink4, except that it’s bigger. That makes sense. After all, if you will be buying into a multi-room, multi-speaker ecosystem, you would want the different speakers to have the same look and feel. A soft, dark mesh hides the three drivers that create the sound (rated at up to 80W), and they include two mid-range/tweeter drivers, as well as one ported sub-woofer driver. The port is cleverly designed to reside in the location of the handle on the rear of the speaker.
While you can use this speaker to play music streams and MP3s, it’s ideally suited as an entry point for high-resolution audio, but its sound quality is sure to impress, even if you haven’t yet got the urge to listen to uncompressed music. In addition to the wireless capabilities that are present, the speaker has a built-in Ethernet port that can be used when the need arises to stream large-sized, high-resolution files.
Setting up the speaker isn’t a difficult task; you just have to read the manual to find out how to change to the different connection modes that the speaker supports. The LED on the power button is the indicator that lets you know what’s what. For example, it flashes blue for Bluetooth, and white for Wi-Fi. You need to use Wi-Fi in a multi-speaker set-up, and when you use Wi-Fi, you have to use the Lenco PlayLink app (for either Apple or Android) as your interface.
The PlayLink app is based on the Qualcomm AllPlay specification and Jukebox app, and it can play music that’s stored on the local device on which it’s installed, as well as music that’s stored on music servers on NAS devices and computers on your network. You can easily stream Internet radio stations, too, using the AllPlay Radio app. There are other apps you can access through the PlayLink app that support the AllPlay specification, including Spotify, and local media players such as doubleTwist.
It’s an easy interface to use. You simply select the speaker, then select the music you want to play (and you can group multiple speakers if you have more than one). You can play individual songs or all the songs in a folder, and they are added to a main playlist. That main playlist can’t be edited; if you want to change the music in it, you have to clear it. That’s one of the things about the app that we think needs improvement. The others are that the volume control within the app doesn’t offer great granular control over the output, and that the speaker can’t be switched to standby and turned on from within the app.
Other people on your network who have the PlayLink app installed can control the speaker and add their own music to the playlist, which can make for a wonderfully social listening experience unless you hate everyone else’s music taste.
Because Lenco’s speaker uses the Qualcomm AllPlay specification, it can work in an environment with speakers from other manufacturers that support the same specification. That means you’re not locked into one brand of speakers.
We tried a variety of music genres on the PlayLink6 speaker while using 320Kbps locally stored MP3s, music streams from Digitally Imported, FLAC files ripped from CDs, and high-resolution FLAC files downloaded from HDTracks. In addition, we tried to play as many genres of music as possible, from regular pop to hip-hop, electronica, trance, classical, metal, and folk music. We can’t fault the way the speaker handled any of these genres, and we’re also impressed that we could unleash the full volume without hearing any distortion or diminishment in the music.
There was separation between different parts of a track, with low-end and treble never out-doing the vocals in the songs that we played. Our overall impression of the PlayLink6 is that it’s a crisp speaker that puts out smooth and accurate sound for the vast majority of music styles. This was clearly shown in high-resolution (24-bit, 96KHz) tracks such as Phil Collins’ Another day in Paradise; the bass in that track grooved ever so smoothly while the snares hit hard.
But even for MP3 files, the results were much the same. Great detail was heard in tracks such as Mikis Theodorakis’ Meneksedenia Ta Vouna, which has an airy ambience that features subtle symbols and prominent wind instruments and pianos. Jane Tyrrell’s vocals from her album, Echoes in the Aviary, were reproduced with a satisfying smoothness that made us want to listen again and again. These were all MP3s that we downloaded from the Google Play Music service.
Likewise, a CD-rip of Michael Jackson’s Bad album played back with plenty of definition. It sounded crisp, yet was deep in the places that called for it. If anything, the highs in this album sounded a little too crisp (which is definitely a hallmark of this album and other Michael Jackson albums, such as Dangerous), but the vocals and mid-range were perfect to our ears.
Since it’s a small speaker (280mm wide, 124mm deep, and 172mm tall), the bass can sound a little off depending on where you sit, or where the speaker is placed in your home. Placing the speaker in the front of a room is your best bet. We placed it in an existing entertainment centre, and the sound was deep when we listened from the front and from the sides.
Read more: UE Megaboom wireless speaker
There’s not much more to say about this Lenco speaker. It’s one that can easily fill a room with loud, accurate sound, and it’s a good choice if you want to delve into the realm of high-resolution audio. We like the choice of connectivity (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth, auxiliary), and we think the style is neat and understated. We wish the buttons were a little easier to press, though, as they don’t feel good enough for a speaker in this price range. The app could also be a little better in terms of controlling the speaker’s volume, and we wish it could power the speaker on and off.
A wireless router with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a requirement for this speaker if you want to use it in Wi-Fi mode, and it will need to be a quick one of at least 300Mbps if you wish to play FLAC files and high-resolution audio.
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