Let’s be honest. Wires suck. They’re ugly, intrusive, binding, and seemingly everywhere you look. We’re right smack dab in the middle of an era where we all have so many personal electronic devices and gadgets that it seems as though every electric outlet in our homes needs an adapter to accommodate many more inputs than the two for which it was designed. That’s why I was happy to review the new Polk Omni S2 Wireless Speaker. I’ve been looking for a new wireless speaker for my home office for some time now … and the Polk Omni was given the honour of being my first guinea pig.
I don’t know why, but I get a strange sense of satisfaction when I open the box of a new product and see that there are only a handful of moving parts. It’s like I’ve won somehow. How have I won? Well that’s a topic of conversation best left for my therapist and I, but regardless, the Polk Omni didn’t disappoint. Besides the Set Up Guide and Product Information pamphlet, there were two pieces to contend with—the speaker and a power cord. Satisfaction level = 10.
Before you can use the Polk Omni, you need to download the Polk Omni app on your Android or iOS device and ensure that the Wi-Fi functionality on your smartphone or tablet is turned on. Easy peasy; so far so good. Then you need to plug the speaker into an outlet via the cable provided (which kinda goes against my whole “I hate wires spiel” but is a necessary piece of the wireless puzzle … go figure). You’ll know you’re ready to go when the light on the back panel blinks and then pulses slowly. So far, set up is a breeze. Satisfaction level = 10.
Pairing with WiFi
Prior to conducting my review, I read a few others online that indicated that pairing the speaker with a WiFi network was a bit of a challenge. I have to admit, my first attempt at pairing the speaker to my WiFi network was a bust. But that was because I entered the wrong password for my WiFi network. After two more failed attempts (I have far too many password combinations)—success! I was paired and ready to see how this little guy operated. Satisfaction level = 9 (only because I was frustrated at not remembering my WiFi password).
Now that I was paired with my WiFi network, I was ready to start streaming some fantastic tunes. To do so, I grabbed my trusty smartphone, and decided that it was a fitting moment for my future husband Adam Levine of Maroon 5 to serenade me, so I clicked on “Music” and then, because I felt there was no other option, even though there was no clear instruction as to what to do next, I clicked on “Play-Fi Device” … and nothing. Silence. Satisfaction level = 2.
So, one thing the little Set Up Guide that comes with the Polk Omni doesn’t do a good job of is explaining how the app works. Sure, I probably could have read up on it online, but that just seems like a lot of effort. Apps these days are meant to make things as easy as humanly possible. So when I clicked on “Play-Fi Device” and nothing happened, I assumed the speaker was broken. Not so. In the top right corner of the app, there was a “Next” button that I saw after what felt like 5 minutes, but was probably about 9 seconds (I blame the hideous brown colour scheme Polk selected for its app for reasons I can’t even begin to understand). I clicked it. Voila! I was presented with the various playlists I have saved in iTunes on my phone. I clicked on the playlist I wanted, selected “Artists” the same way you would in iTunes, scrolled down to Maroon 5 and selected one of my favourite songs and hit play. Satisfaction level = pending.
Holy crap on a cracker. I waited a split second for my selected song to play, and when it started pumping through this little speaker, all I can say is, well, holy crap on a cracker—AMAZING! I may have danced around my apartment for the better part of 30 minutes. Maybe. The sound from a speaker that is about the size of a football is ridiculous. I have to admit, I was expecting sound that was thin and tinny, but this speaker really delivered the opposite. In my impromptu solo dance party, I could hear all the nuances of the song no matter where I was grooving, and I had to turn the volume down to almost nil to avoid complaints from my neighbours; but “nil” is still pretty loud in this little guy.
The only negatives I have to say about the sound are that (1) when the volume is really low, there is a lot of bass, no matter what the song, which really affects the sound. For example, I thought I’d mellow out after my dance party with a little old school Norah Jones, but I felt like the bass was disproportionate to her voice and not the level it was intended to be. At higher volumes though—even marginally higher—that issue vanished. And (2) there is no way to adjust bass or treble like you might be able to do on other speaker systems. The music that pumps out of the Polk is as is, with no way to adjust it. Granted, there are few single-unit wireless speakers on the market that do allow for adjustments, but still, it would be nice to be able to modify the sound if need be. Satisfaction level = 9.5.
Streaming music to the Polk is akin to streaming music on any other WiFi or Bluetooth device—what’s on your phone or tablet will play through the speaker. Whether you’re listening to your own music catalogue, streaming music from Pandora, or Songza, it’s got you covered. To change songs, you need to do so through the app. That said, you can increase or decrease the volume, and pause or play your music directly on the Polk with the three buttons on its face. Again, I read a few reviews that blasted the Polk for not being “smart” in the sense that it won’t automatically replay a playlist, but c’mon people, that’s pretty standard. The cool part is that you can listen to your tunes in one part of your home and change the song or volume via your phone or table, which is very likely attached to your hip.
The only issue I had with the Polk streaming music from my phone is the same issue I have with my car’s Bluetooth streaming music from my phone, and that’s battery drainage. But that’s something that comes with the territory. Think about it people—this speaker is connected to nothing, but is playing the music you have on your phone. You can be in the midst of an epic house party and change the tunes and volume with your phone. If that means I need to charge my phone a little more often, I’m in! Satisfaction level = 9.5!
Bottom line, the Polk Omni Wireless Speaker packs a big punch in a small package. The sound quality is fantastic, it can stream music from your own music library, or a number of music streaming apps, and perhaps best of all, once charged, it has no wires to get in the way. And if you’re wondering how long you can go before needing to charge it again, we’re talking 10 hours. That’s a whole lot of solo apartment dancing. Just saying.