Having used a JBL Radial for quite a while, I've been impressed with the type of sound you can get from a ring-shaped speaker. The DS3880W SoundRing doesn't sound as good as the Radial (it doesn't have the same bass), but it's still pretty impressive for such a small device. And it is small - much smaller than you might think by looking at the promo photos. It's less than 8 inches across.
Setting up the SoundRing isn't a difficult task, but you'd think it was judging by the complicated way the user manual explains things. It's basically just: 1) allow the SoundRing to boot up completely, 2) connect to its default wireless network, and then 3) set it to connect to your existing home network via the browser-based interface. My streaming over AirPlay has been pretty solid and reliable, but that may be because I'm streaming over an Apple AirPort Express in a single room. I've yet to try it across separate rooms and separate floors.
I like this device. It's compact, well-made and looks good. It retains its charge relatively well and it can be recharged via its USB port. There are better AirPlay speakers out there, but the DS3800W SoundRing is a good option if you're strapped for space but still want decent audio (as long as you can avoid the streaming issues other users have experienced).
Addendum ... 11th Jan ... I use the SoundRing in the kitchen quite a bit and have noticed that it does not like the microwave being on ... I get almost immediate drop out in signal ... That maybe just a perculiarity of my microwave of course ... Otherwise I have no real problems apart from when the battery is running down (so that is fair enough)
Addendum 2 ... Doesn't like the new convection oven either ... Was fine with the old low tech oven.
I wanted to run my Philips Fidelio for a good week or so before doing my review as I read so many reviews about the link dropping out, and whilst I know I have a reasonable wifi connection, if I'm using the SoundRing in the Kitchen, I'm a couple of rooms and brick walls away from my Router.
Set up was not as straight forward as I would have liked, WPS did not work on my BT Hub (several people have mentioned that BT have disabled this function), so I then went through the manual process ... whilst I'm no Luddite, I found I had to run through set-up 3 times before success.
Once up and running, I found the sound quality to be reasonably rich, but you do need to go into settings (on iPad or iPhone) to alter the EQ in Music ... I'm guessing that my iPhone has a volume limiter on it as the max volume is not that max, but it is better on my iPad.
So far so good, the only time I had drop out was when I was listening to iPlayer Radio, and that must have been an internet signal problem rather than a streaming issue as it still worked fine using iTunes or Music.
We have also connected the SoundRing to our TV and that really boosted the Audio of some films we watched over Christmas.
I also like the portability, and have listened for a good couple of hours away from the charging base.
As for the quality of sound ... it is good ... just not brilliant. I have a Sony iPod Dock rated at 40W which is much better, but nowhere near as flexible.
I'm happy to give it 4 stars on my experience to date.
on 18 July 2015
Works well, good sound, portable etc but mine only lasted 2 years and according to the Philips support website its unrepairable!!!! Problem seems to be the rechargeable battery has failed, not a big deal as they usually only last about 2 years. Big problem is its not replaceable and the unit keeps switching its self off. Cant believe products can be made at this price which the manufacturer treats as disposable, bad for the pocket and bad for the environment, won't be buying a Philips product any time soon
on 17 February 2012
Update May 2012.
Had this for a few months now and have knocked my intial review down to 2.5 out of 5 because of major 2 issues.
The first is airplay. We have had a few dropout issues but the main problem has been getting the thing to connect and start in the first place. Although the soundring is seen as a speaker device in airplay, it often takes numerous attempts to connect to the speakers before the sound starts streaming and sometimes it just won't connect. This has caused my better half to give up on the device altogether. We know it is not our wifi network as various other airplay devices work flawlessly in the same area of the house.
The second issue relates to trying to connect an ipod via the audio input cable. On some occasions after having given up trying to stream music to the soundring, I have tried to connect various ipods. Connection via USB is fine, but trying to connect via the audio cable (the only option for some ipods and other devices) can be a real issue as the soundring often doesn't seem to detect that there is an input coming in and make the automatic switch to audio input (there doesn't seem to be any way to manually switch the input). This happens even when the ipod output is at full volume.
When it works it's fine ... but getting it to work reliably is an issue for us.
The short and snappy version for those of you in a rush: Overall 3.5 out of 5. Looks good. Nice portability. Reasonable sound, although lacking bass. Airplay works. A little pricey.
Now the longer version.
This speaker looks great and more like and ornament. So good marks for style, 4/5.
It's easy to dock on the little base plate that serves as a power source and charging unit. The speaker ring just lifts off the base plate and can be taken wherever you like running on the internal battery. So good marks for portability, 4/5.
Wireless set up proved a little tricky at first. In the end I had to access the setup menu and configure it via bonjour from the computer rather than from an iphone/ipad/ipod touch as recommended in the quick setup instuctions. Annoyingly, Philips have supplied the manuals on a mini cd disc and I wasn't going to risk putting that into my slot loading drive having heard of some horror stories about mini cd discs in such drives. So as score of 3/5 for ease of set up.
Sound quality. Well, I have to say I was a tad disappointed and hoped for a bit more punch. If you like plenty of bass, this may not be for you... but as it is quite a small speaker system you can't expect a thumping bass. It is fine for a smallish room or desktop type situation, and as a portable wireless speaker I can take anywhere round the house or garden etc. But it won't be replacing my hifi system any time soon! So 3/5 for sound.
Airplay - no real problems encountered so far (once it was set up) streaming from a computer with itunes. Sometimes a little slow to connect. So 4/5 until I can test for a longer time period to determine reliability.
Value for money? Well that depends on what you want from this system. Based on sound alone, £300 is a bit pricey and I think I would be looking elsewhere... but factor in the airpay functionality, internal rechargable battery portability, and the cool style (wife approval - that can count for a lot!) and you may decide these features are worth paying the premium price. I'll give it 3.5/5
This is my first Airplay product. I already have Apple products (iPhones, mac, iPad, AppleTV) so knew about what it was meant to do - wireless streaming of music, podcasts etc.
First impressions were good. Decent packaging - good to see the 'first impressions last' approach of Apple is starting to be followed by other companies.
The set up appears a little complicated first time. Once you have done it once though and if you need to set it up again it feels quite simple (I spend the week away and take it with me so have to reset it up).
Looks wise it is a nice product. The photos do not do it justice. It looks and feels very well made. Another good point is my wife thinks it looks nice...that is rare praise for anything with a plug on it!
Sound...it sounds very good. It will never replace a £1k hi-fi but it is not trying to do that. It plays music and podcasts very well and no problem with volume. I've also not faced the problem of sound dropping out, it just works.
Other points - you can easily dock and undock it to use it running on its internal batteries. I've tested that out but actually tend to keep it on its stand.
Overall, its a very good product. It looks good and certainly sounds good. Also, despite other comments elsewhere, its not difficult to set up. The only problem you may face is you will then want all your speakers to have airplay!
on 18 April 2012
I like this product. It looks great and the sound when it works is pretty fair. The kids carry it around and put it where they are BUT and it is a really big BUT it keeps cutting out. I thought, at first it was my network but having now replaced all the major components over the last 6 months and can safely say that it really is this beast especially as I have two other airplay units now. It has an excellent signal but just keeps dropping out. It is very frustrating. I keep hoping for a software update for it but nothing has been forthcoming. Maybe they will sort it out but for them moment unless you like a new ornament I would probably look at something else
on 24 July 2016
Was a great speaker to begin with but within a year the battery stopped holding any charge at all. I can get it to work by leaving it in the stand all the time, but it takes some fiddling to turn on again if it gets turned off. The airplay and even direct wired USB or 3.5mm connections are also very temperamental.
on 21 December 2014
This worked really well until I put some Belkin WEMO devices on the same network. Now this and my two D7000Ws just reset their wifi connection constantly (flashing red light). Maybe a clash with the BridgeCo chipsets?
This is where you realise that Phillips support is non-existent, and that is why i am giving them 1 star. If you want a firmware upgrade, you can't download it from a website, you have to email a Phillips support technician.
Basically, don't buy this if you want something that works, and then goes on working...
It seems bizarre that one of the most innovative (or at least useful) features that Apple have honed for their iOS devices and PC products - AirPlay - has yet to be exposed properly by the company. For a long time, I had only heard of term 'AirPlay' and had absolutely no idea of its capabilities until doing a little bit of research on the Apple website.
If ever there was an excuse to be converted to a technology, then Philips's Fidelio 'SoundRing' is the only product you need to grin, almost manically, at the potential for wireless audio reproduction. It is quite simply superb.
Yet despite Apple's renown simplicity and ease of use in it's products, the AirPlay technology will require you to (*hold breath*) input some basic commands before you dance the funky chicken in another room. Although I was weary of having to rely on my ageing wireless router to communicate with both the Fidelio and an iPhone, it all went without a single hitch. And this is precisely how the technology works; your wireless router acts a junction box between the speaker itself and the device you wish to play music from. Obviously, this brings to light the potential for instability... Routers tend to send and receive information whenever they please (let's face it, they're not the most motivated souls), but as of yet I haven't experienced a single glitch, lag or delay in my music.
The set-up first and foremost requires that you own not just that router, but also an Apple iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad - all of which support AirPlay. Once you have the device, set-up is as straightforward as entering a special domain on your web browser, filling in a few details regarding your router, and after saving this information you're good to go. You'll have to press a button on the back of the speaker a couple of times during the process, but this was not a problem. To activate AirPlay, you simply tap the icon that appears on your Music screen when a song is playing.
In fact, it was that simple that I tried the process with my iMac, and unsurprisingly it worked. The box doesn't even state that this product is compatible with Mac OS X, but i'm guessing that's purely because you also require iTunes.
Using the speaker has given me a lot of freedom, as you can quite literally navigate your library wherever you are in the room. You also have the added bonus of not requiring any extra cables or an amp, so the SoundRing is easy to transport and dot around wherever you are in the house. It also houses some buttons to skip tracks and alter the volume, which syncs with the same settings on your device.
I should point out that although the 'ring' design does look fun (akin to a Dyson product) and has spectacular build quality, I wouldn't go as far as to suggest that the sound definition is also improved over traditional speakers. This Fidelio isn't going to satisfy all audiophiles, but I'm guessing it's not meant to as the form factor would appear to be more important for blending into your environment. Although the bass is as solid as a rock and the treble is amazingly clear, the fact that there is so little stereo separation will immediately call into context that this is a casual device.
In addition, my guess here is that the donut shape is designed to help handle the device rather than to make Billy Bragg more pleasant on the ear.
To consider purchasing this product, you'll want to first and foremost make the use of its technology. Would you use it as a speaker for the iDevice's radio? How often do you listen to music? And more importantly, will you remember to even use it? As much as I still have the habit of throwing a CD into a bulky player, this is a convenient and elegant solution if you wish to fill the home with your sounds without cables.
The Philips Fidelio SoundRing is well designed are works really well apart from the one issue that a lot of reviews talk about - the reliability of the network connection.
It was easy to set up and is easy to use from my iPhone 4.
It's highly portable and the idea of the charging ring is excellent - once it is charged it doesn't even need to be plugged in to work. It can be placed anywhere.
It's a very nice looking product, it looks and feels high quality.
The sound quality is very good.
But... it does drop network connection if the signal is not very reliable. I changed routers part way through owning this device. Even in the same room as my original router there were regular short breaks in sound transmission, possibly every five minutes or a little less frequently than that. It was irritating and did really reduce the worth of the product as a whole.
I changed to a new router which was more powerful and it has made a significant difference, there are now very rarely any interruptions and I am very happy with this speaker. The quality of sound is excellent and it packs a punch for those who like to crank up the volume.