Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

Signature Acoustics Phoenix – Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter & Receiver

~Gadget Reviews by Swamy

TV audio sucks, irrespective of how wonderful the picture is. So watching any content through it, be it streaming movies or YouTube videos (through Wi-Fi) or downloaded content (played through the USB port), feels underwhelming, since the audio, an essential part of the AV experience, sounds tinny and hollow.

While audio quality doesn’t matter that much for ravenous consumers of mere noise, i.e. those who can’t have enough of flash news played repeatedly or shout fests in the name of panel discussions or pathetic excuse for acting in the form of stale soaps, aka TV serials, that are still stuck in the last century, it’s a big bummer for those who enjoy the innumerable variety and variations of sound, which augments the visual experience. While these kind of audio connoisseurs value and enjoy high quality sound as much as audiophiles, many aren’t really wealthy audiophiles who can splurge on premium brand audio equipment, such as hi-res headphones, Dolby Atmos home theatres or even good quality 2.1 sound bars that can quench their thirst for great audio.
The alternative for such neither here nor there connoisseurs of sound – both music and movies – is the portable DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter, for the uninitiated), which can help them enjoy Hi-Fi audio, through their existing headphones (hopefully of good quality – preferably Hi-res), without filing for bankruptcy or skipping a meal for a few years to pay the emi for quality audio equipment. Swamy belongs to this group of ‘audio enthusiasts on a limited budget‘ and since he already eats only twice a day and certainly plans to enjoy the rest of his planned retirement without going bankrupt, he chose the ‘Signature Acoustics Phoenix Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver,’ which lets him enjoy quality audio through the ‘Audio Technica ATH-M50X‘ over-the-ear and ‘1More Triple Driver‘ in-ear Hi-Res headphones, wirelessly!

And boy do they sound good? Of course they do. The SA Phoenix is a Bluetooth 5.0 compatible transmitter and receiver that can either be used to transmit audio from a device such as TV or music player wirelessly (that can be listened to on Bluetooth speakers or headphones) or as a Bluetooth receiver that can enable a wired speaker or headphone to become wireless. Since the Samsung 4K UHD TV can transmit audio via Bluetooth (version unknown – certainly isn’t 5.0), and both the wired headphones (AT & 1More) are already quite capable when it comes to audio quality, the primary purpose of Phoenix is as a receiver. It has Aux (obviously) and Optical Audio (surprisingly) ports – both In and Out. Wow!

Whether its an action packed movie like Rampage (Dwayne the ‘Rock’ Johnson can be really funny, despite his perennial yet natural tough-guy look, while still convincingly pummelling the beasts – human or otherwise) streaming on Amazon Prime or some old archived movie such as Predator (one of the all time best one-on-one action blockbusters of the Governator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger) or the YouTube videos of MrWhoseTheBoss (his tech review videos are obviously good but his resonant voice is even better) or the foot-tapping ‘Sound of Isha‘ track ‘Yogi Shiva Mahadev‘ to promote the upcoming 25th Mahashivarathri Festival Celebrations at the Isha Yoga Centre (near Coimbatore) or the few free uncompressed hi-res music audio (or audio+video) FLAC files that can be found here and there, the SA Phoenix infuses new life into them, especially when connected to a capable pair of cans. Its tiny size (smaller than a matchbox) belies the capability it packs and thanks to the Qualcomm CSR 8675 AptX-HD supporting chip set, it truly packs a punch. Just charge it (takes a couple of hours for full charge), pair it with an(y) Bluetooth audio source (such as a TV, laptop or smartphone) and connect it to a good quality headphone (such as ATH-M50X or 1More Triple Driver)… And all of a sudden, as one gets immersed into the enchanting space of vibrant sound, in glorious forms, myriad hues and countless variations, there isn’t any urge left to buy expensive audiophile grade equipment, anymore. At least for the time being… Heh.. Heh..
Oh btw, there’s no such thing as a perfect product. And that’s the case with a wonderful gadget like Phoenix as well.

  • A big bummer is that there’s no volume control mechanism of any kind, which pretty much any DAC from FiiO will have, for example. And the volume control in the headphone – the impressive 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, in this case – doesn’t seem to work, when connected to the SA Phoenix. And as if to rub salt on the wound, Samsung (UHD ‘Smart’ TV) too shrugs off and says “It ain’t my problem pal, go figure with your fancy Bluetooth Audio Device.” So basically, there isn’t any kind of volume control, at all, when the SA Phoenix is used as a receiver. That’s something to keep in mind, before playing movie filled with explosive action, which is pretty much any action movie ever made. Ouch!
    • Oh and one more thing… the indicator lights are so tiny that SA should consider supplying a magnifier free, along with the Phoenix (and its even smaller siblings). It’s the polar opposite of the Logitech Bluetooth receiver (which it’s replacing at SwamyHome) whose bluish glow can be clearly practically seen from anywhere in the room.
    • And one last thing – how about a clip that’ll be useful to attach it to garments. It doesn’t look pretty, nor does it feel comfortable, when hanging like a convict in an old western film!
    C’mon Signature Acoustics folks… You obviously got the right people to make great sounding (looking as well) audio gadgets (that too in my dear motherland itself), but you must certainly consider adding a couple of usability design specialists to your team as well, who can tweak the design from a user perspective. That’s when your brand recognition will be as good as (or better than) a worthy competitor such as FiiO (Swamy did consider their BT3 seriously, which supports all hi-res audio codecs, but is only a Bluetooth Receiver+DAC and can’t transmit audio).
    All said and done, Signature Acoustics Phoenix is proudly ‘Made In India,’ doesn’t require one to mortgage the house or car to buy (just Rs.2799 on Amazon – including the ubiquitous GST) and highly recommended by Swamy for anyone seeking to enjoy high quality audio, wirelessly, on a budget!

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