Philips Spotify Multiroom Speaker (SW750M/ SW700M) Review
Very serviceable but highly inflexible
What is the Philips Spotify Multiroom System?Or the question should really read, ‘What are they?’ as there are two wireless multiroom speakers in the range. Specifically we have the SW700M and the larger SW750M of which we were supplied one of each for purposes of the review. At the time of publishing (January 2015), the SW700M will set you back just under £90, while the SW750M carries a price-tag just South of £130. Whichever way you look at it, that’s significantly less than we’ve seen other major brands come in at with comparable speakers.
Who is it for?Well, if you’re not a Premium (i.e. paid-for) Spotify subscriber and have no intention of being one in the future, you might as well stop reading now and go do something more productive. These speakers – and indeed, this system – is specifically designed to interact with Spotify Connect, which allows for music streaming direct from the Spotify mobile app to speakers, TVs and other devices. The advantage of Spotify Connect over ‘regular’ wireless streaming is that it means you don’t need to pair your phone or tablet to the speakers via Bluetooth – it’s done straight through the Spotify app – and since the streaming is done on your home WiFi network, it’s more robust and far-reaching than Bluetooth.
Philips SW750M/ SW700M Design and SpecificationsThe two speaker units are identical in shape but the SW750 is significantly larger than the SW700. This extra size means the larger speaker can accommodate a more impressive array of speaker drivers; the SW750M has two tweeters and a pair of 3-inch main drivers, while the SW700M is equipped with a couple of 2.5” full-range drivers. Irrespective of speaker, the drivers are arranged in the speaker unit to point slightly side-wards to aid stereo separation and create a wider soundstage than had they been facing completely forwards to the listener. Additionally, both speakers include twin bass ports at the rear.
On the top of each unit are some inlaid buttons for volume and playback controls, including skip forwards and backwards plus Play and Pause that should work perfectly in controlling your Spotify device. There’s a couple of buttons on the rear too; one is used if you need to reset and reconnect the speaker to your home network, whilst the other is to take advantage of routers with WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) for a simple and secure connection.
Is it easy to set up?Let’s put it this way; the festive season was in full swing before I first set up the SW700 and SW750 and so it was done with not the clearest of heads. Despite this state of relative non-clarity, it really was a breeze. You will need to download the Philips SpeakerSet app – available for iOS and Android – and then it’s just a case of running through its setup procedure instructions, step-by-step. To summarise those: switch speaker on, join it to your home network using the app, rinse and repeat for each speaker you have and you’re then ready to go.
The setup app is easy to use but lacking in options
Are Philips Spotify speakers simple to use?Unlike some of the competing systems, Philips’ doesn’t really offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of grouping speakers. You are able to place them all in one group or simply play from an individual speaker so you can’t, for example, create custom groups, stream different music to different speakers and nor can you get a couple of speakers to play as a left/right stereo pair.
Do we think these are major omissions? Well, perhaps for some but if all you need is an quick and easy ‘party’ multi-room setup they work perfectly well. Once you have all the setup taken care of, you’ll probably only ever control the speakers via Spotify and this can be done in a couple of ways. You can go in to your Spotify app settings and access them under the Connect submenu or you can tap on the Speaker Icon next to the currently playing track and enable them that way.
In our testing with an iPad 4, Amazon Fire TV, Nexus 7 and Windows 7 PC, the connection proved very stable and switching between devices was very smooth. We do feel, however, that limiting the operability of these devices to work in conjunction with Spotify only, might be cutting the potential market just that little too much but we guess time will tell and the combination of Spotify branding married to attractive pricing might prove enticement enough for some. We do feel that including Bluetooth support is a big miss, however, and surely wouldn’t have cost so much to implement that it would have made the retail price uncompetitive.
Size matters - the SW750M are easily £40 better than the SW700M
Philips SW750M/ SW700M Sound QualityThe forty pounds, or so, price differential between the two speakers seems about right and there’s no doubt the SW750M provides a richer, more room-filling sound than its smaller sibling. Indeed, over the course of the Christmas period we had a number of ‘gatherings’ where the speakers were used extensively and the SW750 drew several compliments from guests for its remarkably ‘big sound’. To put that in to context, they haven’t been exposed to the number of compact wireless speakers as we have, and the Philips’ aren’t really any more impressive, in that regard, than others we’ve heard but certainly with the price considered, they do possess a very decent sound.
The added tweeters in the SW750 definitely help with clarity, particularly with female vocals and higher frequencies, but both produce a warm and inviting tone that suits a broad range of music. Serious music lovers wouldn’t want either as their main listening source, of course, as there’s a definite loss in the sense of stereo compared to conventional speakers but if used as intended, as a background party music system, they do the job very well. I’ve also been using them for background listening of podcasts and music whilst tapping away at the keyboard for AVForums and they are perfectly serviceable as a desktop system too. Again, the inclusion of Bluetooth, or even just a simple 3.5mm stereo jack would have made them a better bet, however.
Should I buy Philips Spotify Multiroom Speakers?As we said above but it’s worth repeating here, if you’re not a Spotify Premium subscriber you can forget the SW750M and SW700M, as they currently only work in conjunction with that service. So, we would also add that if you are a paying Spotify customer but don’t intend to maintain your subscription for some time yet, the investment in the Philips speakers also may not be the wisest. The lack of Bluetooth connectivity or a physical audio input further underscores the lack of flexibility but perhaps Philips are bound contractually to not provide them.
To put an end to the speculation above, we can say with some certainty that if you do meet the entry requirements, then the Philip’s speakers offer some of the best value multiroom options on the market. Setup is a breeze, thanks to a simple app, and you can be up and streaming within a minute. There are limitations in the iOS and Android apps however, when compared to some of the other systems out there, so you can’t stream different music to individual speakers and they can’t be paired up for a fuller stereo experience.
The SW750M, in particular, can provide enough sound with decent quality to power a party or provide a perfectly good desktop, kitchen or bedroom solution and the £90ish SW700M is also solid for the money. It’s perhaps the one you’d bolt on for multiroom duties at a later date. With all the caveats noted we’d definitely say the Philips SW750M and SW700M are ones to put on your considered list and it’s only the lack of flexibility that stops them from gaining a more hearty recommendation.
What Else is there?The marketplace for multiroom systems is becoming ever more crowded and a lot of the major names in consumer electronics industry have systems on the way but you should definitely check out LG’s Music Flow system, which is a much more flexible implementation of multiroom. We can also say the same about Samsung’s efforts, as well as the market-leading Sonos systems but they will all set you back significantly more than the Philips speakers!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £149.99
Value For Money8
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