STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ very detailed, fine sound image
+ balanced and dynamic
+ dry bass, can be placed anywhere
+ very many connectivity options
+ radio remote control
+ excellently processed
Sound: neutrality / transparency9.9
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8.9
Practice / Connectivity9.3
The Piega Premium 301 Wireless Gen2 not only sounds much bigger in bass and dynamics than it is. The 2-way compact box from Switzerland offers after the revision audiophile pleasures that fully live up to their, with brushed aluminum surfaces available housing from the flair. In addition, there is a calibration via app like Sonos and a hub with countless connections, Bluetooth and HDMI. In the review, only the fine-tuning of the Piega Control App showed some room for improvement.
Actually, Switzerland stands for luxury that flourishes in secret. Just think of Zimmerli underwear made of Swiss Cotton or watches by Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe, which discreetly disappear under the shirt cuff. Piega also stands for understatement with its speakers in aluminum design, but you don’t have to hide it in the living room quite as much. Thus, the Piega Premium 301 Wireless Gen 2 looks decidedly classy and also fits unobtrusively into the designer living room with its compact dimensions. The manufacturer also offers a slim floorstanding variant called Premium 501 and a full-grown Premium 701 solution. All three virtually call for a complete system without a visually disturbing amplifier tower. You could say: Swiss-style Bluetooth.
This raises a fundamental question: Anyone who buys such a noble wireless system in natural, white or black aluminum for 3640 Euros per set will hardly be satisfied with Bluetooth. Spotify Connect and Airplay enjoy the widest distribution today, Chromecast or Roon are the gold standards of convenient streaming. And for the connection to the TV, HDMI is just as obligatory today. So how do the Swiss manage to stay on the cutting edge of all these technologies without making the active speakers themselves obsolete?
The streaming center in the hub
It’s simple: You outsource the connections and connectivity to a small transmitter called Connect Plus. Besides the aforementioned streaming standards and Bluetooth, this one also has an HDMI (ARC) input and analog as well as digital HiFi-typical interfaces. The Connect Plus has so many playback options that it can also work as the heart of a complex system with multi-room functionality: In addition to two analog (RCA and jack), it has three optical inputs, one coaxial and one USB-B for connection to a computer, laptop or server.
This small mini control center then sends the music signals wirelessly to the two active speakers. In uncompressed hi-res quality of 96 kHz and 24 bit resolution, of course. If you want to operate multiple systems in a multi-room environment, you can switch to other radio channels.
On the one hand, this has the practical advantage that the box can disappear invisibly behind the TV, on the server or in the cabinet. On the other hand, it also guarantees that the speakers themselves never become technically obsolete. It can be controlled either by wireless remote control or via Piega’s own app. What both accomplish goes far beyond the possibilities of simple Bluetooth stereo sets: The remote control not only offers an always up-to-date volume display, but also direct selection buttons for the 10(!) input options.
Classic speaker technology for the modern home
At 18 centimeters wide, the columnar cabinet of the Piega Premium Wireless 301 Gen2 is surprisingly slim. Nevertheless, serious sound technology is hidden in it. The Swiss are known for their foil tweeters, and the Premium Wireless 301 Gen 2 logically incorporates such an ultra-light foil diaphragm, which the manufacturer calls a second-generation “Linear Drive Ribbon”. Drive conductor tracks and membrane foil are inseparably connected here, and the whole thing is also wave-shaped to protect against unwanted natural vibrations.
The manufacturer achieves the compact dimensions on the one hand through a very neatly dimensioned bass-midrange speaker with a diameter of 14 centimeters. In addition, the entire case is manufactured as an extruded aluminum profile and thus achieves a respectable internal volume thanks to low wall thicknesses.
Since speakers of this design like to find their way into shelves, on noble lowboards or in room corners, the bass response can be adjusted to the placement and the room via app and calibration. This is precisely why the Piega developers opted for a closed bass cabinet. Although this costs the last few decibels of maximum level in the low bass, it guarantees maximum bass precision even under unfavorable conditions and prevents booming.
100 watts for each of the wireless speakers
Each speaker contains one power amplifier for the tweeter and one for the bass-midrange driver. The 100 watts of total power are distributed roughly in a ratio of 1:3, which makes perfect sense. The division of frequencies is done on the digital level before amplification.
The built-in digital signal processors are also so powerful that they not only enable location equalization suitable for wall and corner setups, but also individual calibration to the listening position.
How the Piega app works in practice
This then requires the help of the Piega Control App. It includes a Room Control function that allows you to take an acoustic measurement at the listening position using an iPhone. The app then calculates the optimal correction curve and plays it into the speakers.
The Google Home app is required once to integrate the Connect Plus Hub into the home network via WLAN and to use all streaming functions. In the review, this was just as easy and self-explanatory via hints on the iPhone screen as with a small smart speaker. After that, however, some settings on the back of the boxes and the Connect Plus are still required.
You have to make sure that the small toggle switches on the backs of the two wireless speakers are set to the same color (white, blue or red), otherwise the speakers won’t make a sound at first. With the tiny Group button on the back of the hub, you also have to change the color of an LED on the back by repeatedly pressing it, analogous to the toggle switches on the speakers.
Remote control has to be paired first
One thing you should definitely know about the included remote control: It does not react at first after unpacking, but it can disguise this perfectly. If you switch sources with the rocker switch, for example, the selected input is displayed for a moment via white LEDs on the remote control. The same applies to the volume selection. The hub does not have a display, as is the case with the Mission LX Connect with a similar concept. The solution is basically simple: In the Piega app, this problem can be easily solved with the item “Remote Pairing”. After this pairing, the remote control is available. And because it transmits its commands via Bluetooth, there is no need for visual contact with the hub.
Room Service: Automatic calibration like Sonos
The possibility to measure his noble high-end speakers Piega Premium Wireless 301 Gen2 like a hip Sonos speaker with the microphone of the iPhone is really great. And the procedure also leads to a better bass reproduction than can be achieved with the three-stage toggle switches (wall, corner and free) on the speakers.
The calibration with its noise signal was completed after one minute in our review. As with the recently reviewed Nubert soundbar nuPro XS-8500 RC, you could look at the measured bass frequency response and the corrected one superimposed. For A/B comparison, there is a switch in the Piega app, just like Sonos or the Nubert soundbar.
The crackling when switching, which was criticized in the first version of the review, has been resolved with the final version of the app. We can confirm this after a “test flight” with the latest version. Also, the actually nicely solved circular volume control in the app now reacts a bit sluggishly, but not abruptly the moment you let go of it like before! This also eliminates the original criticism, and we were able to add a little more points for practicality to its pedigree with a clear conscience.
This is how the Piega Premium Wireless 301 Gen2 sound
What the very compact 2-way bookshelf speakers deliver in terms of sound is not something you get to hear every day, even as a reviewer for hi-fi and high-end audio magazines. Especially not in this weight class. And also rarely at this price. If you include the audiophile amplifiers that are obligatory in such sound regions for passive speakers, the two active Piegas with their Connect Plus hub are not even as expensive as it might seem at first glance.
Very quickly there was no doubt: These are sonically next to the KEF LS 50 Wireless II the best small wireless monitor speakers, which we have so far listened to STEREO GUIDE in our reviews. Once they’re set up, they combine the user-friendliness that’s now appreciated in Bluetooth speakers like the simple-minded JBL Flip 6 with the visual and acoustic appearance of high-end speakers. Even more: Many things are only known from much larger floorstanding speakers.
A narrow baffle has a positive effect on the elegant, finely resolved harmonics of the ribbon tweeter without any sharpness. But in the bass, every liter of cabinet volume counts. All the more astonishing how low the Piega came down in the bass without any humminess. What would hardly be conceivable passively with such a compact shelf speaker is astonishing even in comparison with the active environment. Especially after the room correction, the bass sounds really rich, but at the same time very dry and contoured. For multi-family houses, there is about twice the overkill capacity as far as domestic peace is concerned, despite the respectable low bass, which is especially in the compact segment at the expense of level stability.
No intolerances to certain musical fare
The impulsiveness and the dynamic range of the Premium Wireless 301 Gen2, which is very impressive for its dimensions, are convincing. The bass kicks, the timing of the overtone impulses fits perfectly. The ribbon combines perfectly with the conventional low-mid cone in terms of tonal and time response. Slimness, tightness, speed characterize the performance of the Piega. Those who love hip hop might want a bit more volume, richness in the bass. And if you like typical British box tuning, perhaps a touch more warmth. If you’re looking for an honest little monitor that dispenses with artificial effects, you’ll find an “omnivore” that will pass for any genre of music in this class.
The ribbon does not appear superficially as such, but shows its special class especially with cymbals in rock music or jazz. The brass simply sounds more authentic than with most competitors – exactly as I have it from the since the lockdowns again regular concert visits in small jazz clubs or recently at the Great Escape Festival in Brighton from pubs and small halls exactly before ears. This compact monitor, especially with live recordings, creates an atmosphere that really makes you forget that you are just doing the work of evaluating a wireless speaker.
Style Council with style
This also applies to the Style Council recordings used in the listening test, such as the xylophone in the track “The Story Of Someone’s Shoes” or the drum brushes in “Changing Of The Guard” – truly fabulous in every respect. Here, tonal balance complements the highest resolution. This audibility of the recordings, this extremely fast transient and carefully illuminated decay of the notes, also especially on recordings with piano or acoustic stringed instruments move you closer to the action, give you the feeling that it could be real instruments and vocals that you are listening to through the Premium Wireless 301 Gen2. And in live recordings, the audience seems to be in front of you. Can’t tell you when I’ve been able to hear individual heckles from my favorite rock concert recordings so precisely out of the raucous crowd.
Fans of pop and other electronic music will also get their money’s worth. The Piega reveals all recording effects from echo to reverb to voice effects as if with a spotlight. Many will be amazed at what they have been deprived of on their favorite recordings. It is clear that with the two Piegas you can go on a voyage of discovery with another Swiss duo. In addition, the 2-way active speakers bring out the complex synthesizer basses to their best advantage.
Funny instead of frustrating
Yes, who would have thought that after initial frustration I would still be so enthusiastic later in the listening test? Have to admit that during the setup I first pretty much grumbled at expensive high-end audio, as I also grumble at every new car, because even coupes and sports cars are getting wider and heavier. And then, instead of taking the WLAN boxes down again after the listening test, I found myself picking out more and more new recordings. This also showed the advantage of the hub. Not only could I stream wirelessly from my smartphone or computer. The British vintage CD player could also be connected. And even the TV would have been an option via HDMI if a decent movie had been on the agenda.
However, despite all the enthusiasm, I want to point out one weakness. The image appears large, but two-dimensional. Although I experimented with the setup of the two Premium Wireless 301 Gen2 for a while, I did not succeed in having soloists tangibly set up in the center in front of my mind’s eye. There are clearly speakers that reproduce more vividly, i.e. in three dimensions, and focus better. If you moved even a teeny bit out of the sweet spot of the stereo triangle to the side, the fragile focus was ruined. For the sake of completeness, I say this from the perspective of a hi-fi reviewer. Live it also sounds rather flat and the times when I squatted devoutly in front of the stereo while listening to music are history. You can walk around the Piega speakers very well without the impression of authenticity suffering.
Piega Premium Wireless 301 Gen2: Conclusion & alternatives
Full streaming capabilities and such a grown-up sound from a slim designer speaker – you won’t find that again on the market. A KEF LS 50 Wireless II offers similarly rich capabilities, more natural imaging and more substantial low bass. On the other hand, the Piega played much more detailed and lively in the review and fits acoustically better in the corner or shelf.
Similar in concept with a multifunctional transmitter is the less expensive Mission LX Connect. However, it cannot keep up with the Piega in terms of streaming features or sound.
Technical data Piega Premium Wireless 301 Gen2 + Connect Plus
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 3,540 euros (complete set aluminum colors, white + black surcharge 400 euros)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 18 x 34 x 23 cm (box)
- Weight: 9 kg (per box)
- Features: Transmitter preamp with HDMI (ARC), 3 x optical input, coax digital, analog, Roon Ready, Chromecast, Airplay, Spotify Connect.
- More at www.piega.ch