Wireless speakers with multi-room streaming capabilities are part of a rapidly expanding category of lifestyle audio. To the forest of available options, you can now add Vizio’s Crave 360 and Crave Pro SmartCast speakers, which leverage the Google Cast wireless ecosystem.
These new speakers join Vizio’s existing collection of SmartCast devices, which includes LCD displays, TV sound stands, and soundbars. However, the styling and capability of the speakers make them clear competitors of Sonos and its ilk. With styling, build quality, and performance that—in classic Vizio fashion—is aggressively priced compared to the competition.
A few weeks ago I took a trip to Manhattan to check these devices out in a modern home-like setting. They didn’t look at all out of place in a chic, multi million-dollar condo. Touching the speakers did not betray their affordability, the aluminum and cloth enclosures look and feel more expensive than some competing products that cost more—sometimes much more.
The Crave 360 SP50 ($250) is a cylindrical, wireless, cordless speaker that outputs 360-degree (omnidirectional) audio. Vizio says its “custom-crafted” drivers produce “up to 95 dB of dynamic sound with 50 Hz bass.” It comes with a charging base and can run for up to eight hours on a full charge (at 74 dB). This speaker works with either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth , and for easy portability it includes a leather carrying strap.
The Crave 360 in its natural habitat. Photo by Mark Henninger
With the Crave Pro SP70 ($300) you get a rather substantial speaker that requires plug-in power, but provides a significant performance boost over its wireless counterpart. Another difference is the Crave Pro is a directional 2.1 speaker, with a rounded-rectangle form factor that fits well on a shelf or countertop and looks the part of a premium wireless speaker .
The Crave Pro sitting pretty on a NYC rooftop patio. Photo by Mark Henninger
Specs for the Crave Pro hint that it’s got some guts behind the slick exterior. Vizio says it’s got 102 dB of “dynamic sound” (7 dB more than the 360) and “40 Hz bass.”
Both speakers work with the Vizio SmartCast App. The can be grouped and synced for multi-room audio, and support easy streaming with Google cast from the many apps that support it. They also both feature a glass touch-sensitive dial which supports tap to play, swipe to skip and can be rotated to increase or decrease the volume level. An included Ethernet port allows these speakers to stream without depending on Wi-Fi, and a USB port lets them play files off a thumb drive. However, a lack of an analog input means you can’t simply plug your phone into ’em using a cable.
Rear view of the Crave Pro. Photo by Mark Henninger
Rear view of the Crave 360 along with its cordless charging stand . Photo by Mark Henninger
The Crave 360 is available now and the Crave Pro is coming soon.