PSB Alpha iQ Streaming Powered Speakers

PSB Alpha iQ Streaming Powered Speakers


The PSB Alpha iQ are powered speakers with a built-in streaming capability. PSB is a stablemate of Bluesound, so the streaming platform is BluOS.  BluOS is the best out there, it is a Sonus buster!

Having recently reviewed the brilliant Powernode Edge, the PSB Alpha iQ took over in our home living space as the everyday go-to radio and background listening choice. The removal of speaker cable, various interconnects, power leads and the like certainly tidied up the corner of the room, interesting.

Design

PSB Alpha iQ

PSB Alpha iQ tweeter closeup

These PSB Alpha iQ are powered two-way bookshelf speakers requiring only a power lead each. There is no interconnect between them. The two drivers on each speaker comprise a 10.1cm (4″) polypropylene mid-bass driver with a ‘steel basket and rubber surround’.  There is a 1.9cm (0.75″) aluminium dome tweeter with a ‘neodymium magnet and ferrofluid damping.’

The tweeter is placed below the woofer, this is a PSB thing, they claim, with this arrangement, ‘the blend between woofer and tweeter remains consistent ‘whether you’re sitting or standing’.

The speakers have Class D amplification and a DSP (digital signal processor) based crossover. Each speaker driver is driven separately with 30W to the tweeter and 60W to the woofer. There is a single subwoofer RCA out (managed by the BluOS App) at the back.

The control speaker has a MM phono input, the sub out, an Ethernet slot, a TOSlink optical input, a 3.5mm headphone jack style input and an HDMI eARC and a USB port for stored music which is pretty comprehensive. The control speaker manages WiFi and there is Bluetooth built in here too, managed through the BluOS App.

The 3.5mm jack is combined with an optical input if required and it can be used to connect a pair of headphones if required it says on the website.

The DAC supports 24-bit/192kHz streaming files with AirPlay2, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect built-in. There is support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri voice control. The BluOS App supports Qobuz, Amazon Music and Deezer and just about anything else you can think of. The PSB Alpha iQ has a frequency response quoted ‘on axis’ ±3dB at 64Hz-20kHz which suggests a subwoofer might be needed to give a bit of volume to the presentation.

Quality

The speakers are good-looking, minimalist yet stylish in the satin white finish I have. There is a satin black option as well. The speaker edges and corners are lovely, smoothed affairs. The cabinet itself is MDF and feels pretty solid to me, the rear panel is aluminium with the connections housed to the rear at the side. There are no grilles. Overall, this is a solid finish and presentation with absolutely no hint of plastic or corner cutting (no pun intended).

The speakers are 145 x 246 x 192mm (5 11/16” x 9 11/16” x 7 5/8”) each and are 7.36kg (16.2lbs) a pair.

The PSB Alpha iQ is priced at £1,299 on their site in the UK. They are available in a matte white or matte black finish

Performance

Review Equipment

PSB Alpha iQ

PSB Alpha iQ control speaker has the inputs

The PSB Alpha iQ has been connected via an Ethernet cable. I am using a Rega RP3 turntable with the MM phono input. I have the Mark Levinson No.5909 to play with the headphone output either hard wired or Bluetooth out, though we should note they cost almost as much as the Alpha iQ as it is! I have an old Bluesound subwoofer that is so old it is not even in the archived products on the Bluesound site! But it serves a purpose and still sounds pretty good.

Physically

The speakers look good in our living area, which is a few sofas and adjoins the kitchen so it is a real contemporary living space with a fair amount of comings and goings.

The speakers do look upside down, ironically there are no grilles supplied. I would not usually bother with grilles but on this occasion, I’d quite like them to

PSB Alpha iQ

PSB Alpha iQ with Rega Elys 2 MM cartridge into MM stage

lose the thought they are upside down. I have the Rega RP3 in between the speakers.

Rega RP3 turntable

The MM phono input is quite fit for purpose, though I do have a little buzzy interference in the satellite speaker on occasion, it could be the WiFi though. Our copy of Air’s Moon Safari is a frequent go-to vinyl record, and it comes over well with plenty of detail. There’s not much to fault here and the lack of fiddling with additional cables and a phono stage is a relief.

BluOS

the BluOS streaming platform… is always stable and has an immediate response…

As I have said many times, the BluOS streaming platform is probably my favourite, it is always stable and has an immediate response, it does challenge Sonus with a proper HiRes platform if you have Qobuz, Tidal or another HiRes subscription.

What we’re after here with these Alpha speakers is a solid sound and there is plenty here to get excited about. There is plenty of punch and room presence, for example, with favourite review tracks Don’t Forget Who You Are by Miles Kane (Qobuz 16-bit, 44.1kHz), I’m Shakin’ by Jack White (Qobuz 24-bit, 44.1kHz) and New Order’s Perfect Kiss (Qobuz 24-bit, 96kHz).

Calming things down a bit and searching for resolution, and having just watched the film, Elvis, I search for Elvis’ 4 disc 1971 Back in Nashville album, a series of takes, out-takes and rare recordings. The recording is so detailed, and Elvis is so effortless that it is a must-listen these days. My Way (Qobuz 24-bit, 96kHz) loses none of the emotion in Elvis’s voice and it is a real treat through these PSB speakers, as is the rest of the album.

PSB Alpha iQ

Musical Interlude Playlist

Musical Interlude

Here’s the Musical Interlude Playlist on Qobuz used for this review is here. Tidal Connect has worked well too, whilst I think of it.

Thoughts

….the multi-room aspect of these speakers as part of a BluOS package makes the iQ very attractive.

As a simple clean and stereo entry into streaming, this is a very effective start. But if you want to press on after this, you are starting again. However, the multi-room aspect of these speakers as part of a BluOS package makes the iQ very attractive. Not to mention the CD transport and TV/games console upgrade it offers, as well.

Having just boxed up the Powernode Edge, there may be a bit more with that in terms of an upgrade path. I note the Edge and a pair of ELAC UBR62, at £749, is only just a bit more, as a combination, than these PSB speakers. You could even upgrade to a pair of Dali Menuets if you wanted to push the boat out with an Edge upgrade option.

Overall

…it has been enlightening to use the turntable more often than before due to its convenience

There is a really good feel to these speakers and the turntable input makes it a very interesting entry-level proposition combined with a contemporary multi-room streaming option.  I will miss them when they go home, it has been enlightening to use the turntable more often than before due to its convenience.  And it is Record Store Day coming up!

copyright HF&MS Ltd 2022

Love
Understated, minimalist
Elegant
Small footprint
BluOS generally
No cables, interconnects, etc.

Like
Good sound
Bookshelf
Phono input impressive
HDMI input flexibility
As part of a multi-room solution

Wish
For grilles
Limited upgrade path
It is hard to find fault here
Need a subwoofer, like the PSB Alpha S8 (£499)

Specification

Full details are on the company’s site.
The Alpha S8, in the same series is here.

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