There’s a new player in the home audio market and they’re making some big-sounding moves. Korussound has released two speaker systems that allow you to stream music from a variety of devices using what they referred to as “SKAA”. SKAA allows the audio stream to be more consistent and of higher quality than either Bluetooth or AirPlay.
Korus launched their line of consumer speakers with two models designed to work independently or, if you so choose, together. The smaller V400 has a starting price of $299.99 while the larger V600 has a starting price of $399.99. Bundles that include a speaker and set of Batons (more on that shortly) are also available. They offer huge savings for someone looking to enter into the Korus ecosystem, and they are the only option we would recommend.
In the first part of this review, we’ll take a look at Korus’s overall approach to entering the home audio market as well as the technology they are employing to do so. In the second part of this review we’ll take a closer look at the speakers themselves and offer our take on the Korus system as a whole.
The two speakers Korus has initially released look the same, albeit one is significantly larger than the other. The unusual triangular shape includes a handle built into the back of each speaker. This design lets the speaker sit comfortably in a corner, while the handle all but disappears. Thanks to great industrial design however, the handle remains fully accessible even when placed into a corner.
Thanks to the technology built into each speaker, up to four different Korus speakers can work in tandem with one another. This allows for even bigger sound — although the sound out of each individual speaker impresses on its own — while also allowing for a multi room audio experience. Multiroom audio is something I have come to love with my Sonos system, and the fact that the Korus system can have four speakers work together in a similar manner is a huge plus in my book.
Still, if the Korus V400 and V600 speakers simply offered a nice design, powerful speakers and the ability to work together for multi-room audio streaming, there wouldn’t be all that much about which to write. After all, Sonos offers all of that, and they now have not one or two — but five — different speakers at various price points in their portfolio. They even offer an accessory that allows you to Sonos-ize non-Sonos speakers. Why in the world would anyone choose to go with the Korus system over Sonos or the purchase of multiple Bluetooth or AirPlay speakers? It all comes down to the sound and convenience of SKAA.
Thanks to the SKAA audio technology Korus opted to use in their speakers, they claim to have created a wireless audio system like no other system currently on the market. As they explain it:
The patented SKAA audio technology in Korus speakers delivers exceptional clarity and detail over greater distances than standard Bluetooth.
Bluetooth speakers can sometimes drop their signal, causing the music to stutter, lag, or even stop completely. That’s why we use patented SKAA wireless audio technology. It prevents click, pops and dropouts so you hear exactly what you should without any interruptions. Even better, it delivers exceptional audio clarity and detail over greater distances than Bluetooth. SKAA lets you roam further and keep the music playing without any worries. In fact, SKAA is so good that pro musicians are using the same technology for wireless microphones and guitar packs on stage. SKAA gives you the reliable audio performance that even demanding musicians need.
Thanks to SKAA, Korus speakers offer consistent and reliable connections that, in my experience, show no latency issues. Korus speaker transmit sound quality up to 480Kbps. That’s more than double the 201Kbps for Bluetooth enabled devices. In addition, SKAA transmits on the 2.4GHZ ISM radio band and “uses a patented Walking Frequency Diversity protocol that effectively detects conflicts and “hops” out of the way, preventing drops and pops”. Latency, that is, the lag time from a source device to the speaker is cut to just 40 milliseconds- a third the latency of Bluetooth. In practical terms it means the music pretty much starts playing as soon as you hit the button on your source device.
iPhones, iPad, and computers don’t have native support for SKAA. In order to make the SKAA connection you will need to use what Korus refers to as a “Baton”. These small dongle-like attachments plug into your device and make pairing a thing of the past.
The Batons currently come in three different forms. There’s a USB Baton, there is a Lightning Baton, and there is a 30-PIN Baton. Each allows music to stream from a source device to the speaker or speakers of your choice. Korus highlights the benefits of the batons as offering:
No setup, No Pairing, No Network Passwords, No Problems! Stream audio to a single speaker or up to four simultaneously.
In addition Baton-to-USB cables let you charge the source device while listening to music, watching a video, or playing a game.
In addition to offering high fidelity without first needing to pair the audio source to the speaker, Korus is proud to note that the use of Batons means you can “pass your Korus Baton to a friend so they can share their favorites with you”.
(Warning… Sarcasm alert!) Yes, the Batons finally offer a way to easily respond to all those times when you were listening to music and the person next to you said, “Hey, I want to stream music from my phone instead of yours!” Thank goodness!
Seriously, the improved fidelity and pairing-less setup make sense, but the “pass the Baton” thing falls a bit short and is not something I would be using as a major selling-point.
Each Korus speaker is able to remember up to ten different Batons so you can have multiple Batons in various locations in your home and, when you want to listen to music, you simply plug the closest Baton into your iPhone, iPod, iPad or computer. We’ll come back to the Batons in part two of this review since it is one of the aspects of the system that took time to win me over.
The vision that brought nine different audio brands with over 190 years of experience in audio engineering together to create Korus is described by the company in this way:
We imagined a wireless audio system that was so easy anyone in our family could use it, one that seamlessly works with virtually any device you have: smartphones, tablets, media players, and computers no matter what the operating system or hardware.
We also wanted effortless sharing of speakers with our family and friends, because entertainment isn’t just something you enjoy by yourself. Furthermore, we required that it deliver audio that’s more reliable with higher acoustic quality vs Bluetooth or WiFi speakers. Lastly, we demanded a speaker system that would do all this not just for music, but for movies and games too.
And we desired a system perfect for one or more rooms and with the ability to combine or separate multiple speakers at anytime.
By opting to create a system that uses a streaming technology that “delivers unmatched ease of use, reliability and sound quality that Bluetooth and WiFi systems can’t achieve”, the Korus team found a niche in an already crowded market.
- Simple out-of-the-box setup: Power on the Korus speaker and plug the Baton wireless audio transmitter into your source device. With most devices you can begin hearing your music, video, or game immediately.
- Easy to share: Your family and friends can gain immediate access to your Korus speakers by simply plugging your Baton into their source device having the same connector.
- Multi-speaker capable: You can have up to four Korus speakers working together in perfect synchronization playing the same song in multiple locations. For example, you might want a Korus speaker in your kitchen and family room. Or you may entertain a lot with family and guests moving between the backyard patio and inside (kitchen) – simply move one or two Korus speakers outside on the patio with one speaker in the kitchen and/or living room.
- Reliable, extended wireless range: SKAA wireless audio maintains a rock solid connection between your source device and the Korus speakers at ranges up to 65 feet indoors and as far as 200 feet outdoors . This compares to 30 feet typical for
- Bluetooth devices.
- Near zero lag wireless performance: The SKAA wireless audio technology is designed for high quality music playback. This includes near zero latency between your source device and the speakers which means Korus is great for supersizing your listening experience when Watching Videos or playing games on your iPad, for example. With Korus speakers your audio will remain in perfect synchronization with what you see on screen.
So that’s the technology that goes into the Korus Speaker System. In part two of this review, we will look at the specific speakers, the experience of using the Batons, and my thoughts on this new entry into the home audio market.