Let’s get this out of the way upfront: SVS’ slick new pair of wireless speakers, the Prime Wireless, don’t come with a physical remote, and it’s kind of weird.
That’s especially true given the modern state of speakers. Audiophile setups meant for leather-chair listening sessions with tumbler in hand are increasingly making way for soundbars and speakers that work with your TV remote or, at the other end of things, monolithic, multiroom smart speakers. But then, SVS has always been more interested in crafting top-tier sound at mid-tier prices (and making really epic subwoofers) than keeping up with trends.
Call the Prime Wireless a concession of sorts, but on SVS’ own terms. With multiple inputs, onboard physical controls, and Play-Fi’s app-based streaming and control system, these glossy black boxes can accommodate TV sound, and even join a multiroom audio setup. But first and foremost, they’re designed for old-fashioned musical bliss — and in that role they excel.
Out of the box
Pulling the Prime Wireless from their foam-packed boxes is strikingly familiar for anyone familiar with the traditional Prime Speakers, which is among our favorite speaker systems ever created when it comes to sheer performance for your dollars. The Prime Wireless don’t break any molds here — they’re essentially just the Prime satellite speakers, elevated from the base to make room for electronic guts and onboard amplification.
The piano-gloss cabinets are even sexier and more luxurious in person.
If you’ve never seen the Prime in the flesh, however, here are two things to know: First, the Prime family’s front-tapered cabinets offer just enough flair to stand apart from the mob of faceless black boxes, and second, the thick lacquer of the piano-gloss cabinets is even sexier and more luxurious in person. The speakers are elevated at the base, presumably for their amplification and circuitry, while the right speaker boasts a display panel and dual control knobs.
The fabric grills arrive attached and that’s probably for the best — looking under the hood reveals more science than art, which is also why we don’t mind that the grills attach with pegs rather than magnets. Included in the minimalist, remote-less package are just two cables (one for power and one to connect the speakers in stereo), sticky pads, and instruction materials.
As mentioned, there’s only one power cable here, as the Prime Wireless utilize a single connection cable to send audio and power the left speaker. After plugging in the right-side master and connecting said cable, the speakers should be ready to pair automatically.
Those familiar with Play-Fi — and the many pitfalls of its early days — might fear pairing is a chore, but the Prime Wireless are surprisingly intuitive there. Simply download the Play-Fi app and follow the instructions to connect to your Wi-Fi network. Android users need only enter their Wi-Fi password, though iOS users will need to complete a couple of extra steps. We connected to the speakers twice, including to our notoriously precarious office Wi-Fi, encountering zero issues. Thank you, Play-Fi first adopters.
The speakers go into Bluetooth pairing automatically, requiring only that you turn the left control knob to the Bluetooth input, but Wi-Fi is by far the preferred streaming method for quality.
Features and design
As mentioned, the Prime Wireless are simply beautiful in their shiny black simplicity. As an adaptation of Prime’s satellite speakers, they’re smaller than one might think based on their pictures, sitting just 10-inches tall, 6-inches wide, and 7-inches deep. Each speaker weighs just under 9 pounds. We were slightly disappointed that, unlike the passive satellites, the Prime Wireless aren’t yet available in the Lennon-white lacquer, but SVS recently reached out to tell us that the white Prime Wireless speakers are indeed on the way.
Under each grill rests the Prime series’ lovely 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter, matched by a polypropylene 4.5-inch woofer with an aluminum shorting ring designed to create less distortion and enhance higher frequencies. Each driver receives a claimed 50 watts for a total of 200 watts of Class D amplification. Just as importantly, the crossover between tweeter and driver is digitally controlled to align the frequencies for supreme clarity and accuracy.
At the back of the right speaker are inputs aplenty, including analog ports in both 3.5mm and RCA, a digital Optical input, Ethernet in and out connection (Wi-Fi worked fine for us), and an output for adding a subwoofer, which is well worth consideration for hip-hop fans. The speakers offer a claimed frequency response of 52Hz-22kHz, but as one might expect, they don’t exactly excel at delivering low bass.
As mentioned, a pair of digital knobs on the right speaker’s front face serve as onboard controls; The right knob controls volume and play/pause with a spin or press respectively, while the left knob scrolls through the inputs, as well as allowing for the creation of six presets to program your favorite streaming service, internet radio station, or even playlists through the Play-Fi app. We’ve never had much use for such presets, but hey, they’re there if you do.
Interestingly, there’s no power button anywhere on board. An SVS rep told us this is by design, so the speakers are always ready to stream, and indeed, it’s very quick and easy to go from silence to streaming. We’re also told the speakers comply with “all low power Energy Star requirements for products of their type,” though it does feel a little odd not to turn them off.
Not your father’s Play-Fi
As referenced, Play-Fi has obviously improved quite a bit since we last got hands-on with it. The beauty of Play-Fi has always been its open-source nature, which allows multiroom streaming between speakers of all shapes, sizes, and brands from Pioneer to MacIntosh (and everything in between). After using the app for a week or so, the system proved simple and stable, with just a bit of a learning curve to get things going.
The Play-Fi streaming system proved simple and stable.
After setup, the Prime Wireless reliably showed up both in the Play-Fi app and in our Spotify app, making streaming simple and easy. Outside of linking to multiple speakers, as well as some basic Amazon Alexa control, there aren’t a ton of options to play with here, though Play-Fi does allow a DLNA-supported NAS drive on your network to stream high-resolution tracks. There are also multiple supported streaming services, including Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and many others, but no Apple Music — if that’s your jam, you’ll need to stream via Bluetooth.
Along with streaming volume and grouping to other speakers, Play-Fi also allows for volume control of wired inputs like your TV or turntable, though you’ll have to seek out the feature in the extras via the upper right “+” sign. Unfortunately, there’s no way to change inputs remotely, though we were able to change from the Optical input to Wi-Fi streaming by simply selecting the speakers in Spotify.
What can we say about the Prime Wireless sound except that it’s spectacular? We fell in love with the original Prime series from day one, so it’s no surprise that souping up a pair from the family with custom tuned amplification and digital crossovers would jibe just right with our ears.
Clear, smooth, and articulate sound springs forth from the speakers right from the start, offering a premium listening experience at a relatively affordable price. The stereo image is tight yet expansive, offering depth and dimension on both the horizontal and vertical axes, and there’s plenty of dynamic expression when streaming high-quality tracks as well.
The Prime Wireless absolutely sing in the upper midrange and treble, offering immaculate clarity and detail, while the balance between registers makes for smooth transitioning. Each brassy guitar pluck, crunchy synth arpeggio, or papery textured snare brush is brought to the forefront with grace and definition, making for a lovely listen across genres.
We even let the Prime Wireless moonlight as our TV audio solution, and they did a fine job with both dialogue and effects. While we occasionally found it a chore to defer to a mobile device to adjust volume, it never became an all-out annoyance, and Play-Fi defaults to your phone’s physical buttons while it’s running in the background to make things easier.
Clear, smooth, articulate, sound.
As satellite speakers by trade, we weren’t surprised that the Prime Wireless tend to lean on the bright side of the sound signature, and when we cued up bass-heavy tracks like The Weeknd’s Starboy, we were left a little flat, wishing for that warm lower punch to the groove that never quite arrived. That’s in contrast to larger powered bookshelf pairs, like KEF’s incredible LS50 Wireless, which certainly improve with a subwoofer, but carry even bass-laden tracks on their own.
If you find yourself seeking out the sub and lower bass-heavy tracks more often than articulate acoustic tracks or classic rock, you’ll definitely want to add a subwoofer into the equation. Luckily, SVS has plenty of options there that will not only match your speakers’ physical aesthetic, but they’ll also be likely to match sonically for a still-affordable 2.1 system without the need for separate amplification.
SVS stands behind its products firmly, offering both a 45-day risk-free trial and a two-year warranty.Our Take
While SVS’ Prime Wireless may not be the ideal setup for TV or component audio, in every other way they meet or exceed expectations, offering clear, detailed, and dynamic sound alongside reliable streaming from a wide variety of options.
Is there a better alternative?
You’ll have to move up in price a fair bit to outdo the Prime Wireless when it comes to performance. The aforementioned LS50 Wireless handily outdo them when it comes to instrumental texture, definition, and dynamic expression in the finer moments, and they also offer much better bass response. They’re also nearly four times the cost. We’ll be interested to see where KEF’s LSX wireless fit in (review coming soon) — they still run nearly double the Prime Wireless at $1,100.
Those looking to save a few bucks could look at Bluetooth speakers like Aperion’s aging but excellent Allaire, which offer more bass but fewer options and less clarity and detail. While there are plenty of impressive passive speakers around the $500 range, such as ELAC’s Uni-Fi UB5 and KEF’s Q150, there just aren’t many options in the $600 price range that can give you this kind of performance in an all-in-one package.
How long will it last?
The Prime Wireless have extremely solid build quality from a sterling name in the business. With Play-Fi, the speakers should grow in time with new app updates and added features, so we expect them to last a long while.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a pair of wireless speakers with a small profile, gorgeous design, and music-first attitude, don’t even hesitate.
Updated 2-12-2019: Added information from SVS after publication that the Prime Wireless will also soon be available in white.