Audio Pro Living LV3 Wireless Loudspeakers Reviewed

Audio_Pro_LV3_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review.jpgI’m new to the Audio Pro Series and the last time I tried wireless speakers, it was an unmitigated disaster. As such, our editor thought I was the perfect candidate to review these speakers and find out if we’ve made strides in wireless technology. Audio Pro is a Swedish company that has been in the audio business since 1978. The LV3 floorstanding speakers featured in this review retail for $2,000 per pair and are part of Audio Pro’s Living LV line, which includes the single speaker LV1, LV2 bookshelf speaker (which I also reviewed) and LVSUB subwoofer. All of the speakers in the LV line are wireless and, aesthetically speaking, they’re simply gorgeous. They all come wrapped in your choice of white or black leather – cool eh? Currently, they’re only available through high-end, specialty audio shops in major U.S. markets.

Additional Resources
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com’s staff.
• Look for sources to pair with the LV3s in our Source Component Review section.
• Explore AV receiver options in our AV Receiver Review section.

The LV3 measures 29.5 inches tall by just less than nine inches in width and depth. I found the size to be perfect, not only for blending seamlessly and unobtrusively into a room, but also for keeping a wife happy. Each LV3 features three, one-inch silk dome tweeters; one, four and a half inch midrange driver and one, six and a half inch down-firing woofer. Amplification comes courtesy of one 100-Watt amp and two 35-Watt Class D amps. The LV3 is a three-way bass reflex design with a unique driver configuration, which provides greater placement flexibility. With the grill (which mounts on the top of the speaker) removed, it looks a bit like something out of Star Wars, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. These speakers are aesthetically stunning, grills on or off. This aspect of their design also increases their versatility; you can go grills on to make them blend into your room, or remove them to make them stand out and create a conversation piece.

Audio_Pro_LV3_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review_remote.jpgThe Hookup
The packaging on the LV3s was top-notch and definitely in line with what you’d expect at this price point. As is typical with higher end audio, they came packaged in a box within a box. Inside the box, everything was laid out intuitively and with adequate spacing between the accessories. Audio Pro even goes so far as to include a pair of white gloves, so as not to mar the fine leather wrap. And trust me when I tell you, once you’ve handled a pair of these speakers, you don’t want to take any risks in marking them up. By the time you finish reading this review, you’re going to be sick of me talking about how gorgeous these speakers are – mea culpa. The other thing I’ll rave about is the simplicity of setup; you simply plug each speaker into a power outlet, pop the included USB dongle into your computer (Mac or PC) and then enjoy brilliant CD quality sound. Trust me when I tell you – it’s that simple. I think my dad could handle this one and he’s still trying to figure out his cable remote. One thing worth noting when hooking them up is that, due to their design, they’re not finicky about placement. While you can certainly improve the sound of any speaker by moving it around in a room, I found the LV3s to be extremely forgiving in terms of placement.

Further adding to their versatility, the LV3s can play music from other sources such as iPods, cell phones, network music players, etc. You simply plug your source into the USB dongle via its 3.5mm input and you’re in business. The one caveat is that you’ll need to supply power to the TX100 dongle via a USB power adapter, which is sold separately. In my setup, I used the two LV3 speakers in a standard two-channel stereo setup, but each speaker has a switch on the back that allows you to use it in a mono capacity, in case you want to have a single LV3 in one room and another in a separate room. Another cool feature is a bass EQ, which allows you to adjust the bass from +10 to -10 dB to compensate for placement in the room. I had each speaker positioned about 10 inches out from the wall and neither were near a corner, so I left the bass levels alone, but every room is different, so it’s nice to have the option.

Another cool thing to note about the functionality of the LV3 is the option to add an infinite number of speakers in your home. Each speaker has three different “House Codes,” or channels, which allows you to have three different zones with three different volume levels. You can also have the same volume level throughout the house using master volume and all of this can be controlled by the included remote. Speaking of the remote, I found it to be intuitively designed and very simple to use. Using the House Codes, you can also play different music from different sources in up to three zones, though you’ll need two additional transmitters in order to do this. This is a great way to handle multi-room audio without having to hire installers and run cable all over your house.

Performance
Typically when doing a review I have to think about which Blu-ray is good for demonstration, which of my albums are well recorded, which ones I haven’t used recently, etc. In this case it was simple; whatever was currently residing on my MacBook Pro was going to be good fodder for the LV3s. As it happens, my library consists of MP3s, Apple Lossless audio files and some high-resolution 96/24 tracks downloaded from www.HDtracks.com. After a good ten hours plus of break-in, it was time to remove the grills and get to some critical listening.

Read about the performance of the Audio Pro LV3 loudspeakers on Page 2.

Audio_Pro_LV3_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review_white.jpgFirst up was an MP3 of Elton John’s “The Wasteland” from his album Songs From the West Coast (Universal Music). I played the track through iTunes and while there was certainly a tradeoff in sound quality from what I’d heard with the lossless files during burn-in, I was still impressed with the sound quality. While the MP3 track was less detailed and a bit lacking in the low end, I was still able to enjoy the track as the LV3s managed to deftly convey the soulfulness of Elton’s voice. While imaging was decent on this track, it turned out to be exemplary with CD (and above) quality tracks. The bass response was solid, belying the size of the speakers.

Next up was an Apple Lossless file in the form of The Black Eyed Peas “Imma Be,” from their album The E.N.D. (Interscope). First of all, I love this song; secondarily, it’s a great way to test the low-end mettle of a loudspeaker. While bass response was impressive, especially for a speaker of this size, true bass junkies might want to consider adding the LVSUB. That said, I don’t think the LV3s were designed with bass junkies in mind; more along the lines of discerning audiophiles who are also concerned with how their gear looks in a room. But back to the track: on the upside the soundstage was impressive and wide. Imaging was also solid, with Fergie’s voice floating in space in the middle of the room. Despite their somewhat diminutive size, the LV3s did an impressive job of filling my large listening room with detailed, engaging sound.

For the next round I cued up another Apple Lossless file in the form of Nat King Cole’s “Stay as Sweet as You Are” from the remastered version of his album Love is the Thing (Capitol). This is a popular track amongst audiophiles as it’s well recorded and gives you a good idea of how a speaker handles vocals. What I can tell you is that the LV3s are revealing, in the best sense of the word. To explain, some speakers are revealing to the point of being annoying, allowing a trained listener to pick up on every flaw in a recording. The LV3s are revealing, without that last degree of detail that might turn a pleasant listening experience into a frustrating one. The treble was open and airy, just the right amount actually, re-producing Cole’s famous vibrato with stunning accuracy. While lost in the magic of how this track sounded, I again had to remind myself that I was listening to wireless speakers. This is actually the first set of wireless speakers I’ve ever heard that were able to convey that “You are there” experience that all audiophiles crave.

Moving on, I cued up Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” (Hear Music), which I downloaded as a 96/24 FLAC file from HDTracks. While the LV3s max out at 48 kHz, I was curious if there would be an audible improvement with a high-resolution file. There was. Put simply, the sound quality of the title track was stunning, with every layer of the instrumentation brilliantly rendered. McCartney is one of my favorite artists, and it had been awhile since I’d enjoyed listening to “Band on the Run” this much. In terms of the sonic improvement of a high resolution file versus lossless or especially MP3, the sound was more room-filling and imaging improved perceptibly.

While I was only planning on using four songs for this review – one MP3, two lossless and one high resolution – I was so impressed while listening to”Soul Meets Body” by Death Cab for Cutie (Atlantic/WEA) that I decided to include some notes on that as well. The three-way design of the LV3s really shined on this track as it sounded like I was listening to a surround mix of this song, rather than a lossless two-channel track played through wireless speakers. The vocals were coming from all around me and it was impossible to “place” the speakers in the room. The LV3s exhibited really solid low-end authority and the resolution was jaw dropping. The thought I kept having was that these are some really well engineered speakers, and well worth $2,000. I was already sold on the LV3s from my earlier listening sessions, but listening to “Soul Meets Body” is where the experience became transformative. You can try to call me out for being overly effusive in my praise of the LV3s, but I’d like you to audition them before doing so.

Audio_Pro_LV3_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review_driver.jpgCompetition and Comparison
This part of a review is typically pretty straightforward – you draw on your own past reviews and general knowledge to point out similar gear in terms of price and performance, although this is going to be a bit more difficult than usual as I don’t think the LV3s have any direct competition in terms of performance, aesthetics and wireless technology. That said, there are a couple of options that might help you out if you’re researching wireless speakers. If the $2,000 LV3s are out of your budget, you might want to take a look at the JBL WEM-1, which is a $350 kit that allows you to add wireless capability to most speakers and subwoofers. Another option, if you’re looking for home theater surround sound, is
the Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Wireless 5.1 System, which retails for $2,499. Aperion is known for making great sounding speakers with a solid price to performance ratio, due to their online only direct to consumer business model.

For more on the above mentioned loudspeakers and more please check out Home Theater Review’s Floorstanding Loudspeaker page.

The Downside
There’s a band of material around the inside base of each speaker grill, and the adhesive used to attach it catches on the speaker itself when you remove the grill. It happened with both speakers and left adhesive goo on each side of the speaker. While I’m not sure if this is isolated to my review samples, it was definitely worth mentioning.

While the LV3s certainly play loud enough for most, Audio Pro might consider a beefier amp for a few more bucks as an option. While they were more than adequate for listening by myself in a 350 square foot listening room, they might be a bit underpowered if you’re hosting a party and have a room filled with people.

Audio_Pro_LV3_floorstanding_loudspeaker_review_black.jpgConclusion
The most striking audible characteristic of these speakers has to be their resolution. Comparing them to my Bowers & Wilkins 685s I thought the LV3s exhibited more control, better low-end thump and higher resolution. In all fairness though, the LV3s are three times the price of the Bowers & Wilkins 685s.

You know it’s funny, I’ve jumped through a lot of hoops both physically and financially to build a great sounding home theater. We’re talking about carefully matching source components, choosing the right cabling and trying out all kinds of speaker placement options. Not to mention the headache of
trying to get high resolution 96/24 files to play through my system. DACs that lack 96/24 capability through their USB input anyone? Having been through all of this, I’m astonished at how quickly and easily the LV3s can provide stunningly good sound quality.

Another very important fact about these speakers is that you don’t need a state of  the art computer to drive them, nor do you need high-resolution audio files. They’re so good and so forgiving that even your sad little MP3 files will sound great. As a reminder, I ran MP3s, lossless and high res files through the LV3s in order to test their versatility. They passed this and every other test I threw at them with flying colors – ease of setup, aesthetics and most importantly – sheer audio bliss. They’re also, due to the leather wrapping and cool design, a great conversation piece. I had plenty of people come in and out of my listening room while
auditioning the LV3s and every one of them asked about the speakers. The bottom line is that whether you have a rickety old computer on its last leg, or one of those shiny new Macs, your music is going to sound nothing short of spectacular through the LV3s and it’s going to take you about 10 minutes to set them up.

Additional Resources
• Read more floorstanding speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com’s staff.
• Look for sources to pair with the LV3s in our Source Component Review section.
• Explore AV receiver options in our AV Receiver Review section.

SOURCE:http://hometheaterreview.com/audio-pro-living-lv3-wireless-loudspeakers-reviewed/