Aperion Aris: An exclusive hands-on look at the first wireless speaker for Windows

It’s finally out, read our full review of the Aperion Aris speakers. 

We had an opportunity to stop by Aperion Audio’s Tualatin, OR-based headquarters to get an exclusive look and listen to the new Aperion Aris wireless speaker system. If you missed our story on the Aperion Aris, you can read it here, but here’s a more comprehensive look at the Aris:

The Aperion Aris is being billed as the first wireless speaker to be compatible with Windows 7 and, eventually, Windows 8. Many are analogously referring to it as the Windows version of Airplay, but the speaker’s capabilities go further than that. More on that in a moment.

After linking the Aris to a WiFi router, any Windows PC on the network running Windows 7 or later can instantly stream music wirelessly to the speaker using Window’s built-in “Play to” feature. That is, in and of itself, fairly impressive; but as we learned during our visit with Aperion’s product manager, Mike Hopkins, the Aris is poised to become one of the most versatile wireless speakers available on the market.

When Windows 8 officially arrives, the Aris will be ready to take advantage of some of the new operating system’s advanced features. Most notably, Windows 8 will reportedly allow streaming of audio through its “play to” feature from any web page writted in HTML 5. While Microsoft isn’t confirming or denying anything at the moment, we know that could include sites like Pandora, YouTube and Spotify. Since Aperion has been working closely with Microsoft for Windows 8 certification, it is entirely possible that the Aperion Aris could wind up being one of the very first Windows 8 certified devices.

Presently, an Android app is also available which will let users stream music from their Android phones directly to the speaker. The same app also allows remote control of shared music from any PC on the network as well. Aperion indicated in its press release that an iPhone app was also under development, so we asked whether that meant the Aris will eventually support AirPlay as well. As it turns out, it will. Aperion expects to have an AirPlay card available sometime this year which will allow iOS devices to stream music to the Aris as well.

Such versatility is a product of the Aris’ design. Rather than bury the wireless technology within the speaker’s machined aluminum enclosure, Aperion has designed the speaker to accept a PMCIA-style card with the wireless tech built in. The card that will be included with the speaker when it is expected to ship in June is designed for Windows compatibility, but when the AirPlay card comes available it is expected it could be purchased on its own or in a bundle with the speaker.

We were able to put our hands and ears on the Aperion Aris during our visit and, generally speaking, we were quite impressed. From an aesthetic standpoint, we like that the piece looks like classy speaker as opposed to a lunch box or blimp. It looks sleek and modern without trying too hard. From an audio standpoint, what we heard indicates that the Aris will compete very nicely against its like-priced competition. Bass was powerful without being overbearing and extended well into the 50-60Hz neighborhood, giving it the feel of a full sized speaker system. Midrange clarity was excellent. We found that the Aris’ enclosure held up well against the force of the bass frequencies and avoided coloring up the vocal range. High frequency response was classic Aperion with plenty of detail and sparkle without ever shouting at you.

Though our listening experience was with a production sample, all indications from Aperion are that the final product will sound the same. We’ll hold out for our review sample before offering our final word but, so far, it would seem Aperion has a really solid product on its hands.

Check out our video and photos for an up-close look at the new Aperion Aris.