Philips' new multi-room WACS7000 Wi-Fi music system demonstrates that you don't need to be a computer whiz to install a wireless music network. The latest Streamium plug 'n' play music system replaces the WACS700 and is a surprisingly easy model to master.
Cosmetically, the futuristic Music Centre (WAC7000) and partnering Music Station (WAS7000) look identical to their predecessors. A Wi-Fi network is automatically established during initial setup, and four other Philips Music Stations (£200 each) can be added to the network and placed around the home.
Double or quits
The Music Centre's hard disk storage capacity has doubled to a more capacious 80GB, which is enough to centralise around 1,500 CDs at 128kbps in MP3 format. Higher quality ripping modes are available at 160, 192, 256 and 320kbps.
Ripping a CD is a speedy process, and track listings are automatically updated via the Gracenote database - when connected to a home computer network.
Stored music is accessed via the high-resolution display screen on either unit or the master LCD remote controller, and the sophisticated menu system allows you to choose music by track name, album, artist, genre and playlist.
The WACS7000 can even access music stored on PC via a home wireless network or Ethernet connection. A software installation disc is supplied, but there's no compatibility with Apple Macs.
Once music has been ripped or downloaded you can play different tracks on each system simultaneously, or you can hear the same music on each system as you move from room to room.
Press the Music Follows Me button and the same music continues when you press the same button on a system in another room, and selecting Music Broadcast routes the same music to all systems within the Wi-Fi network around the home.
The futuristic styling makes it difficult to spot the innovative Super Sound Panel speakers employed on both units. Sound quality is impressive from both systems and detaching the Music Centre's speakers gives a better sense of stereo hi-fi when spaced either side of the main unit.
Setting the tone
Tone controls are plentiful. There's a three-level DBB (Dynamic Bass Boost) button, and the Smart EQ button selects the tonal preset based on the music genre currently being played.
Incredible Surround effectively widens the soundstage to provide a more expansive sense of stereo, and is particularly useful with the Music Station's 'fixed' stereo speakers.
The WACS7000 is a versatile music system and one of the simplest ways of getting a multi-room setup in to the home. Philips has successfully ironed out any niggles that hampered its predecessor and made it a music system that we'd happily have around the home.