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Create your own mini music event with Riva Audio’s Wand multispace audio system

Kris Wouk
We're already big fans of Riva Audio's portable offerings, and now the company is getting even more ambitious with its new Wand series multispace audio system, featuring the Arena and Festival models.

When we took a look at the Riva Audio Turbo X last year, we called it the best portable speaker available at the time. With a pedigree like that, we take notice when the company releases a new product. Riva isn’t simply launching a new wireless speaker, however — instead, it’s launching a multispace audio system with its new Wand series.

At CEDIA 2016 in Dallas, the company showed for the first time its new, large-and-in-charge Festival speaker along with a product still in development that you’ll hear about first at Digital Trends: the Central.

Unlike a lot of portable speakers, Riva’s Wand series — comprised of the Arena and Festival models — offers stereo sound from a single speaker. Pair up more, and you get even bigger sound with wider stereo separation. The company is carefully avoiding the term multiroom, using multispace instead to push the point across that you can use multiple speakers outside to create your own mini music events.

As for the prototype Central, it’s a device that promises to integrate any existing audio equipment you may have into Riva’s multispace system. With digital optical inputs and outputs, any existing stereo system can now be accessed and played through wirelessly. Similarly, a TV or Blu-ray player could be connected to feed audio into the wireless system. Analog inputs allow for connection of a turntable, for example, while a USB input facilitates connection of numerous digital devices, which can then be decoded by the Centrals built-in, high quality 24-bit/92kHz DAC. Finally, any passive speakers can be driven thanks to the Central’s 60 watt per channel digital amplifier.

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“Many talented people have worked very hard to bring such quality and flexibility at a very affordable price,” Riva Audio Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Rikki Farr said in a statement. “They’ve created a compact, open system that consumers can play with any source. Finally, I can listen to the music of my past played back as close to live as it gets in a compact system that integrates into any situation. Very rewarding.”

Both the arena and festival models support Bluetooth, but it doesn’t end there. They also have Wi-Fi, AirPlay, DLNA, and Google Cast support as well as more specialized connectivity options like Spotify Connect. Both speakers also offer high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/92kHz, with MP3, ALAC, APE, FLAC, FLAC HD, HLS, WAV, and WMA codec support. The company’s Trillium three-channel audio technology creates stereo that sounds much bigger than the speaker’s physical size.

The Arena is the more compact of the two speakers, meant to be taken with you while you’re on the go. To help keep your music going, an optional battery pack is available that adds 16 hours of battery life, freeing you from wires. This powers three custom full-range ADX drivers and three passive radiators, pushing out up to 101 decibels.

The larger Festival model uses six custom ADX woofers and tweeters coupled with four passive radiators for a powerful 106dB of sound and bass that reaches as low as 38Hz. This model features an Optical/SPDIF connector for digital audio input to complement the 3.5mm analog input found on both it and the Arena. On both models, these jacks are protected by a splash-resistant cover.

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Both speakers feature onboard USB ports to charge mobile devices. The Riva Wand app, available for both iOS and Android, puts the controls for both in the palm of your hand, making for easy pairing of multiple speakers. The Arena will be available in black/titanium and white/silver color schemes, while the Festival is available in black and titanium.

The Riva Audio Wand series will be available beginning in November, ranging in price from $250 to $500. The Central is expected to debut at CES, though pricing is not yet finalized. For more information, see the Riva Audio website.