You may not have heard of PSB, but the Canadian-based audio company has been doing its thing for nearly 50 years now. With all that practice focused on a space-conscious product line, it’s no wonder the brand has mastered the art of creating big sound in small packages.
Even so, the Alpha IQ powered speakers surprise, offering enough muscle and presence to fill small-to-medium-size rooms with excellent sound, no amp required. The IQ have much more up their sleeves, too, with connections for all your gear alongside Sonos-like multi-room streaming in high-resolution with Bluesound.
There are some quirks to using the system, not to mention a pretty hefty price tag. But if you’re looking for a versatile pair of hi-fi streaming speakers, the Alpha IQ are a great option.
Versatility, With a Learning Curve
Standing less than 10 inches tall and 6 inches wide, the Alpha IQ seem shockingly small when you unbox them, giving an impression, false though it may be, that they’ll struggle to usher forth convincing audio performance. The 4-inch polypropylene mid-bass drivers are set above the .75-inch tweeters for a distinctive configuration that allows them to be set on higher shelves and desktops alongside regular speaker stands and TV consoles.
The pair we received arrived with a fair few scuffs along their matte exteriors, suggesting they’d been driven hard and put away wet. Their design feels a bit more blue-collar than even some cheaper options like SVS’ Prime Wireless Pro, looking more like computer speakers than bookshelves. But touches like a topside control bar and aluminum lines behind the baffles add some style points, and their minimalism grew on me over time. I also love that each speaker requires only a wall outlet, with no need for a connecting wire between them, let alone an amplifier.
With a wide range of available inputs, from HDMI eARC to a turntable input complete with a moving-magnet cartridge, it’s easy to connect all your source devices to the primary speaker’s backside. But first, you’ll want to download Bluesound’s BlueOS app to get the system connected and ready to stream.
Perhaps because my review model saw some wear and tear ahead of arrival, I had some difficulty getting the left speaker to find my network at first. The flashing green light indicated a need for a factory reset, which meant digging up a paperclip to push in the reset button and going through some rigmarole—so much for Sonos-like simplicity.
Once done, the speakers proved to be extremely stable on my network no matter what I played. There are a lot of ways to stream, whether you go directly from the app with services like Spotify, Amazon Music, or Bluesound’s Radio Paradise (Apple Music isn’t supported), or via AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, or Tidal Connect. There’s also Bluetooth with aptX HD, but you’ll need to stream over Wi-Fi to get the benefit of the Alpha IQ’s 24-bit/192-kHz max resolution.