Life is too short for crappy speakers that sound like sludge.
The good news? You don’t have to settle.
Powerful, compact speakers are available, and they make your music come alive in ways that lead to a more enjoyable experience. I found a really good example of that recently.
I liked the PSB Alpha iQ bookshelf speakers as soon as I connected my phone and started streaming some of my favorite bands using the Tidal app. The pair come in black or white, and they fit nicely right above the fireplace in my den. There are no speaker wires, not even between the two speakers — which is a bit uncommon. Instead, the speakers connect to each other to form a stereo pair, and then you can stream music from any device that supports Bluetooth (or use RCA, optical, or HDMI).
I started by listening to a few songs that normally push speakers to the limit. I like a band called Manchester Orchestra because they have crunchy guitars and loud drums, so if the speakers I’m testing are lame, the band sounds like mush. Right away, I noticed everything sounded pristine.
For $1,300 you gain the wonderful benefit of distinct audio. The speakers don’t obfuscate poor quality construction or design by using a booming bass sound that makes you feel like you made a wise purchase. If anything, with the PSB Alpha iQ bookshelf speakers, it’s the opposite: you are paying for precise audio replication. There isn’t as much boom, because I’m sure the company wants you to feel like you can hear the music, not just the bass.
I really wanted to test this theory, though, and the one song you should try on these speakers is by a band called Great Lake Swimmers. “Moonlight, Stay Above” is one of my favorite songs of the year. It has a lighter-than-air quality, with guitar finger-picking that’s tender and soft. A 10-person vocal group, recorded in a church, lifts the song to another level.
The reason I liked the song for a test is that I wasn’t aware of how much organ there is in the song. I normally listen using floor-standing speakers in my office, and I crank them up nice and loud. I also listen on a set of AirPods Pro. I missed it. It wasn’t until I used the PSB Alpha iQ bookshelf speakers that I heard the organ in the background and realized it was not a modern synth, but an older organ.
This is why higher-quality speakers are so fun. You can hear more of the music you love, and its distinct enough that it sounds like the instruments are in the room with you. It was enjoyable to go through several of my favorites songs and listen for the audio snippets I had never really noticed before. It’s true that these aren’t the speakers you want for a huge party where the only purpose to the music is to shake the room. These are speakers for people who love music.
One tip for any audiophile considering these speakers. I also tested them with a turntable, and at first had some weird humming feedback. I thought we were well beyond the age when our audio devices had to be grounded — especially considering we stream everything these days. Turns out, if you use a turntable, you might need an RCA cable with a grounding wire. That did the trick for me.
Overall, the PSB Alpha iQ bookshelf speakers were easy to configure and use. They looked great on my shelf. I played music using the Tidal app but you can also use the BluOS app if you want or anything that supports AirPlay. I’m hooked. They are my current obsession.
Note: Our reviews are always 100% independent but Gearadical receives a small affiliate amount if you purchase the product on Amazon.