I’ll be the first to admit to not being a true audiophile so if you’re reading this review expect it from a very simple man’s point of view. I am however, a musician and I know what I like to listen to and I know good musical talent and impeccable musical ability. There are bluetooth speakers in abundance and there are multi-room speaker systems creeping up here and there, and Sonos is a very popular and expensive one used by many iOS users. The Phorus DTS Play-Fi System has also been around for a few years and it has continually improved through those years. Initially designed with Android users in mind, they’ve since expanded to iOS as well. Phorus provided us with a PS-1 speaker, PS-5 speaker and PR-1 receiver for the purposes of this review.
Design and Build Quality
Phorus design cues are spot on modern and sleek, the PS-1 speaker’s cone shape design is subtle yet striking, the newer PS-5 oblong disc shape is muted and minimal and the PR-1 receiver is slim and easy to integrate into whatever system you’re pairing it to. Built from solid black plastics and nice sheer material for speaker coverings, I found the designs to be acceptable, minimal and easy to look at.
The build quality is also acceptable for the price point you’re looking at here. The PS-1 clocks in at $199, the PS-5 comes in at $229 and the PR-1 receiver, now replaced with the PR-5 receiver, brings up the rear at $179. You’re getting good build quality and excellent design for the money you’re paying for these units. Overall I’d score the build and design qualities of the Phorus system a solid 4.5 stars.
System Setup and Applications
Setting up the Phorus system isn’t difficult in the least, of course the more speakers and components you have the longer it will take. In my case I ended up with three total, the PR-1 receiver, the PS-1 speaker and the PS-5 speaker. The PR-1 receiver (now the PR-5) transforms your existing stereo system or any speaker into a DTS Play-Fi device and I connected it to my Pioneer surround system. You can connect via AUX, or RCA connections, very simple to do. Once you have it all plugged in it’s just a matter of downloading the Play-Fi app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and choosing to set up a new Play-Fi device.
The app will walk you through the details but basically you set-up a new device, the app will reach out and find your PR-1 and it will ask you if you want to connect that device to your network. You will of course agree that’s what needs to be done and provide the network password for the device to connect. Once the PR-1 is connected you’re ready to start playing music through your existing system or speakers. You can use Google Play Music, Spotify or any music app. In my case I used Spotify and used Apple Air Play to connect the app to the PR-1. You can also use the Play-Fi app which provides a few options for playback like Songza, Deezer and your local Media Server (more on this in a few).
Setting up the PS-1 and the PS-5 are equally simple and follow the same basic flow as setting up the PR-1, not much to add to it other than it’s super simple. Once you have all your speakers set-up on the Wi-Fi and working (I tested each one individually to be sure I was indeed smart enough to follow the dead simple instructions) you can really start using the system to its full advantage. Right now you can only stream to one speaker at a time using a third party app like Spotify or Google Play Music but that’s alright and it works. If you happen to use Songza, Deezer or like me happen to have a Media Server with a bunch of music on it you’ll be able to link all the speakers together.
Using the Play-Fi app on my iPhone 6 Plus I was able to connect to my NAS and access my Media Library where I have a collection of music. Before you actually start playing music the Play-Fi app asks you which speakers you want to use. You can choose just one or you can link all three of them together meaning I now can listen to my music downstairs in the living room, upstairs in the master bedroom and in the guest bedroom as well, as that’s where I setup the three units. While it would be nice to be able to use Spotify and Google Play Music through the Play-Fi app it’s not a deal breaker.
Phorus also provides a PC desktop application that allows you to link all the speakers together, so streaming from your laptop is equally easy for you PC users. Us Mac users will just have to wait and hope Phorus decides to grace us with a Mac desktop application, but having the ability to play my music throughout the house via Wi-Fi lossless streaming was a treat and for just over $600 that’s quite the steal. System set-up gets a solid 4.25 stars, it might have gotten 4.75 if the Play-Fi app supported more streaming services and there was a Mac desktop app.
Here’s the part of the review audiophile’s are going to hate me for, mostly because my standards are not up to par with those who are nutty over sound, so here’s to the normal folks. I found the sound from the PS-1 and PS-5 speakers quite satisfying and very much acceptable. The PS-1 easily fills up the guest bedroom in great sound and the PS-5 does an equally awesome job filling up the master bedroom. The PR-1 obviously just uses whatever system it’s plugged into and my Pioneer in the living room does a very good job in its own right. So overall I’m giving the Phorus system a solid 4.75 on sound, while I am sure there are other systems out there with even better sound, you’re also going to pay an arm and a leg for them, Phorus seems to hit the right spot in pricing.
If you’re looking for a multi-room speaker solution that will give you lossless sound and no lag, then the Phorus DTS Play-Fi system should be on your short list. While it’s not perfect, Play-Fi app needs more streaming support options and Mac needs a desktop app, it’s very much usable and evolving. You could sink a lot of money into higher priced systems but honestly, Phorus is high quality in build, design and quality. Even if you just start with a PS-5 or PS-1, those alone are crazy awesome on their own. For the nutty audiophiles out there, you should check Phorus out as well, you may like them you may not, but at least give them a listen. For the rest of us, this is some very nice sound at a decent price.