As the first Windows 8âcertified speaker, the Aris relies on Microsoft’s DLNA-derived Play To system. The promise is that with the ability to stream lossless audio, as well as video and pictures, it will emerge as a legitimate rival to Apple’s AirPlay. As of right now, it doesn’t quite live up to that goal.
While many early AirPlay speakers of were downright infuriating to setup (and yes, some still are), in the past year or so, most companies have worked out the major kinks. Setup on the Aris, however, remained a bit convoluted and was nowhere near as simple as, say, the Bowers & Wilkins A5.
You have to sign the device into your own wireless network — as opposed to it just showing up there — and there are a number of seemingly frivolous WMP hoops to jump through in order to get things streaming.
Thankfully, the sound that comes out of the Aris more than makes up for my initial misgivings. With buttery-smooth mids, a tight and focused low end, and the widest soundstage of the group, the Aris made every genre — from country to chiptune — sound great in my testing. Like the A5 from B&W, Aperion uses some signal processing to shape the overall sound signature, but the effect was never overblown or artificial — at least not in “natural mode.”