Product: Weezy Bluetooth connector
Manufacturer: Eikon - Italy
Cost: 69 € (YMMV)
Reviewer: Geoff Husband - TNT France
Reviewed: December 2010
I'm a Luddite. Almost all my listening is vinyl played through valve amps (with 60 year-old valves) and then to horn speakers who's technology goes back even further. I suppose that might be why Lucio suggested I might like to review the 'Weezy'.
What is it?
You can see the pic supplied by the manufacturer above - it's a little plastic 'blob' with an LED - small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It doesn't look like hi-fi, and it certainly doesn't act like any hi-fi component I've had here before.
You see the Weezy is a very simple gadget – it combines a 'bluetooth' receiver with a little bit of electronics (which I don't understand) so that music streamed from any bluetooth compatible device will be converted back to music, and sent out via a 3.5 mm stereo jack at a variable line level.
OK – now it gets tricky because I don't own any bluetooth devices, nor do I have any use for them. That meant I had to go out and buy a bluetooth USB 'dongle' (I think that's the word) for my PC costing about 20 Euro.
Then I had to do the usual unarmed combat needed to install anything with Windows. To be truthful it wasn't that difficult and all problems were down to the 'dongle' and nothing to do with the Weezy.
Once the dongle was configured the Weezy hooked up to it straight away and I finally got down to playing with it.
The Weezy comes with both a 3.5mm – 3.5mm cable and a phono adaptor cable so of course it's extremely easy to just plug into any amplifier in a hi-fi system. Level is adjustable internally, so you just match this to be similar to your other sources and that – believe it or not – is that. From that moment on anything you play on your PC is automatically streamed to the Weezy and so by selecting the appropriate input you get music straight from your PC to your main system.
And that dear readers, is pretty much all there is to it. In effect the Weezy acts as if it's a cable connecting any bluetooth enabled music source to your stereo (or any other thing it's plugged into).
Which of course changes fundamentally the way you listen to music. My son (18) waltzes in and in a few minutes he's figured it out and now he can just pull his phone out (one of those Android things I think) and when he walks in the room I'm suddenly assailed by some megadeath metal rattling the windows. My wife uses my netbook (having stolen the bluetooth key) to listen to the 'Archers' on Radio 4 via the internet*. It turns out my daughter's MP3 player is bluetooth enabled and so within minutes Paramore has invaded my living room (great drumming by the way).
To do all this a few ears ago would have meant faffing about with cables, pulling reluctant (and often fragile) phono plugs in and out, and using up a shed load of inputs. No more... Never have I felt more left behind. This is a revolution far more important than the CD. Now I'm sure lots of you out there will be sighing that you've been able to do this for years in some way or another, but the fact is that the Weezy is cheap, unobtrusive – nay attractive – and very easy to use. Like I say – this can change the way you listen to music – suddenly the hi-fi becomes something linked to a myriad number of different sources, each containing thousands of recordings and of course making the infinity of the internet instantly available.
And of course it opens other avenues. There have been 'wireless' speaker systems for years, but until very recently they've been exotic – the Weezy is fundamentally mainstream.
Inevitably there are snags. The 100m range turns out to be a lot less in reality. You really need to be within 10m and be able to see the Weezy for most sources. From the main PC and using the dongle the signal passed through two wooden partition walls and 10m of air to hit the Weezy, but only just. This is an inevitable limit of the technology because it was designed to replace cables in an office, not to create pseudo cable links throughout a building. But within that limit, and leaving your phone/netbook 2m from the Weezy is hardly a hardship, it works flawlessly.
Is it hi-fi? Now it gets tricky... Most of the sources above are heavily compresses MP3 and the like and this was painfully evident when playing familiar music through a system costing around 500 times the cost of the Weezy – but to be fair, for non-critical, dancing-about-whilst-doing-the-washing-up situations it was fine. And who – in all honesty - is going to use a Weezy between the main source and the amplifier in their megabuck system. Plugged into a more realistic, 'micro' system (my son's) it was as good as any of the other sources.
Then I tried playing .wav files at CD standard through my netbook and also CD's from the CD tray of my PC. The truth is that the little Weezy was fully capable of showing the superiority of the uncompressed media, though the overall quality was still well below that of a quality CD player – sounding grey, compressed and with a limited soundstage – especially in depth, but then I certainly can't put this limitation down to the Weezy. The sources in these cases were not optimized for music and used the normal crappy on-board soundcards. In fact as a reviewer of the sound quality of the little device I have to admit to failing dismally – as I'm not about to go out and purchase a high quality bluetooth enabled source to see, I can hardly do otherwise.
But that said the results I did get were promising when taken in context, and to criticize the sound quality of something that is designed as a cheap, convenience item is hardly fair. But the potential is there.
Is the Weezy the first ripple of a vast tidal wave? Are the days when hi-fi is a stack of components set close together and joined by wires numbered? Do we see a future where hidden somewhere in the home is a receiver/amp that can stream music from internet, your phone, anywhere and then fire it out to speakers anywhere in the house? Will such a system, bereft of the losses of wires and plugs and solder overtake the quality of conventional hi-fi?
Just look at what happens now – the music in digital form is converted to radio waves, thence to the Weezy where it's reassembled first as a digital signal and then to an analogue form before going to an amp. Of course there are losses involved at every stage, but so are there with any other form of connection. How long before technology of such data transmission (which after all is what it is) becomes far superior to pumping current down a piece of copper?
Who knows, but the future I'm sure, lies with the Weezies of this world...
*Apologies for non UK readers, but 'The Archers' is a agricultural (in every sense of the word) soap as addictive as crack cocaine.
© Copyright 2010 Geoff Husband - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com