Oppo’s very first wireless speaker is a bucket-full of expectations. As a brand, Oppo had launched a bevy of successful products ranging from Bluray players to headphones. But will the Oppo Sonica Wireless speaker impress this reviewer?
Build Quality and Design
Though it takes up a slightly larger footprint than competing speakers, the Oppo Sonica sounds bigger than it looks. Internally it packs a punch, rocking a 3.5″ woofer and two 2.5″ Neodymium drivers and passive radiators. The Sonica has a fabric speaker grill and its chassis is a matte high-strength ABS polymer that feels just as premium as it looks. The design is clean and it only has three small buttons on top (Volume up and down buttons and mute button). The delightful soft glowing light at the Sonica’s base can be tweaked to suit your preference.
It requires just one power cord to operate and connects to your WiFi Network directly. And, if you need more wireless bandwidth, you can connect an Ethernet cable to it. Even with a LAN cable, its nondescript form factor lets it blend easily with any home decor.
Performance and Features
Sonica supports DLNA, Airplay, and Bluetooth, and music over USB. Furthermore, the Sonica App also supports Spotify and Tidal, which is awesome, because of Tidal’s recent introduction of MQA. Through DLNA, the Sonica was able to play my Hi-Res files from my Western Digital NAS server with no issues, including FLAC and WAV files. Music from my phone streamed quickly and without interruption from phone calls.
The most important make or break factor of any WiFi speaker is, how reliably it connects to your home network. The Oppo Sonica uses a dual-band receiver and connected reliably to my WiFi Network, be it to my main router in the living room, or to my repeater in the bedroom. I was able to get the Sonica to stay connected to the one in my bedroom even though it did not have a strong signal, which was impressive. Its MIMO Antenna will mean that you should get a reliable wireless connection throughout the home. Like most WiFi speakers, while setting it up, you’ll need to free up some bandwidth from your devices to ensure a quick connection.
Like Sonos speakers, the Sonica relies on the Sonica App for most operations. As someone who had experienced different Apps for wireless speakers, the Sonica App keeps things to a bare minimum and was relatively simple to use. Playing with the Sonica App for 10 minutes should get anyone up and running. However, like the Sonos App, there is a small learning curve to overcome. (The App does not display information in an intuitive graphical interface, like B&O’s Beomusic App or the Bose SoundTouch App)
Though the App performed decently enough, I hope that Oppo will take their cue from Sonos or Bose, and add more music services. It felt really barebones having Tidal or Spotify only. The search feature functioned okay, but I had hoped that the app will display individual albums and their track titles in search results.
The Sonica is a great sounding speaker despite its dimunitive size. It doesn’t play exceedingly loud, but at a regular volume level (60%) it will impress you with its effortless highs, lifelike mids and its deep lashings of clean bass. With just one Sonica, it will already deliver on what I described. The Sonica has a very low noise floor and track separation is great. Clusters of festive bells lighted up in isolated corners at the intro of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’, followed up in quick order by Mariah’s powerful vocals. Both Piano and Acoustic Guitar sounded detailed and distinct against a black background in Janet Seidel’s throaty rendition of ‘Perhaps’. You won’t get heart-stopping thumps with this speaker (like from the S$3000 Devialet Phantom) but the speaker is versatile enough for most kinds of music, even EDM!
With two Sonicas, you can play the same audio on both, or pair them in Stereo and enjoy a more spacious, more articulate soundstage. However, sometimes there will be audio syncing issues between the two, which can be easily fixed by pausing and playing the audio again. My other gripe with this set up is that audio transmitted over Airplay will not play in stereo on both Sonicas, only on the speaker that you select from your Apple device. Audio over Bluetooth will work as advertised, and it was joyful listening to my favourite concerts from Youtube all around the house.
You may let the App guide you on which of the four EQ presets is more suitable for your room acoustics, but I recommend letting your ears be the judge.
At S$499, the Oppo Sonica is good value for money. It sounds great, looks great, connects reliably and has all the important features you’ll ever need. It may not have tons of music services like the Sonos Play 1, or shortcut buttons to your favourites like the Bose SoundTouch 10, but the Sonica is more versatile than these two mighty competitors. For example, you’ll get Bluetooth and an Auxiliary input, (which the Sonos Play 1 lacks) and Airplay streaming (absent from the Bose SoundTouch 10). Both of them don’t have a USB input, which is a frequently requested feature that’s found in the Sonica.
The Sonica is a well-conceived product that you’ll have to audition to believe. Coming from someone with an extensive background in wireless speakers, the Oppo Sonica is shaping up to be a force to be reckoned with, in this very competitive sphere.
So here’s the final tally:
Build Quality and Design (WiFi Speaker)
- Pros: Small form factor that blends well into any home decor. Feels hefty and well built with solid polycarbonate chassis. Simple and clean aesthetics with customisable LED indicator light. Only three simple buttons on top.
- Cons: Takes up a slightly larger footprint than competing speakers.
Score: 4/5 (26.64%)
Performance and Features
- Pros: Supports most essential features for a digital lifestyle. Reliable WiFi and Bluetooth connection. Able to stay connected to a repeater with relatively weak WiFi signal. Streams from music sources quickly and reliably. Sonica App is relatively simple and easy to operate with a small learning curve. Impressive Bass, mid-range and treble performance for its compact size. Clean, detailed and balanced sound quality will satisfy most listeners. With another Sonica, can play either in Stereo or individually. No audio/video sync issues.
- Cons: Occasional audio-sync issues between Sonica speakers. Audio transmitted over Airplay will not stream on both speakers if grouped together or played in Stereo. Only Tidal or Spotify Music Streaming services are offered, fewer than competing music streamers.
Score: 9/12 (24.98%)
- As the Sonica scored above average for Build Quality, Design, Performance and Features, Sonica is rated good value for money, even in comparison with speakers like the Sonos Play 1 and Bose SoundTouch 10 that cost less.
Score: 4/5 (26.64%)
Final Score: 7.8/10