If you've ever fancied hooking up an additional set of speakers for music listening in another room (or even while relaxing in the garden), then this wireless stereo speaker system is likely to appeal.
Out goes spaghetti junction wiring and in come battery-powered CHS 550 stereo speakers. The speakers have RF receivers built into each cabinet and pick up signals from the supplied transmitter connected to the line/record output at back of an existing amplifier or its headphone output.
The splash-proof cabinets are easily wall-mounted, although they're not weatherproof enough for permanent outdoor installations.
Each speaker is powered by six C-type batteries for 'cable free' installation, but mains adaptors are also supplied. There's no rechargeable battery capability, so we'd recommend investing in a set of rechargeable batteries and charger.
The tiny transmitter sits discretely on top of your amp and broadcasts at around 2.4GHz. There are eight frequency channels to choose from, enabling you to select the one that offers the cleanest reception in your particular environment.
All interconnecting cables are provided and the multi-language instruction booklet quickly guides you through installation. Pressing the auto-tune button on the front of the speakers quickly locks it to the RF signal from the transmitter and can receive the amplifier's selected source up to 30m away.
The remote's natty looking, but it's a hit and miss affair trying to get both speakers to respond at the same time and there's no power button, but these are minor glitches.
Performance-wise, the speakers exhibited slight interference problems with the factory-set broadcast channel in our domestic scenario. Selecting the next frequency channel in the range on the transmitter and retuning each speaker resolved minor glitches and interference issues instantly.
The speakers may not be up to hi-fi standards, but clarity is remarkably good. There's a decent amount of mid bass, and the cylindrical speakers produce a full sound even when placed outdoors. The Vivancos cope well with radio broadcasts transmitted to the wireless speakers.
Second room Radio 1 listening has good energy with music and it's easy to understand what presenters are saying without having to strain your hearing.
CD music received by the speakers highlights some weaknesses. The Vivancos have a limited frequency response and sound undynamic when compared with a pair of similarly priced hi-fi speakers. At louder volume levels they distort easily, and the lack of bass depth on Prince's 3121 album is disappointing.
The CHS 550s make a flexible addition to any stereo music or movie system. They are compact and portable enough to be placed almost anywhere around the home and receive signals transmitted from an existing stereo amplifier without any of the fuss of routing miles of speaker cable to another room or outside to the patio.
Our main criticisms concern the sound quality at the price, but this is unlikely to be a major gripe in a second room or outdoor installation.