Onkyo VC-PX30: a small active speaker compatible with DTS Play-Fi—which integrates Qobuz in Hi-Res—and offering honorable sound performances!
It can be said that digital music started a true golden age for small speakers that adopted wireless connections, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi ones ahead, which have more or less untied them down and some of which can even understand what you say. This is the case of Onkyo’s VC-PX30, which possesses a Wi-Fi connection and is driven by the DTS Play-Fi application integrating Qobuz in Hi-Res and by Amazon Alexa’s speech recognition software.
Very common on the home cinema market and still common on the high-end and mainstream Hi-Fi markets, the Japanese brand Onkyo sells a few stereo speakers, 5.1 speaker kits, a subwoofer and two active speakers, the Smart Speaker G3 (VC-GX30) which integrates the Google Assistant and the Smart Speaker P3 (or VC-PX30) which integrates the Amazon Alexa voice-control system compatible with the DTS Play-Fi system—which integrates Qobuz in Hi-Res—, a speaker which will be the subject of this testing ground.
This VC-PX30 speaker can be used alone, in pairs in a stereo configuration, or in a system including other Onkyo elements that are compatible with DTS Play-Fi. It also includes a 3.5mm Jack stereo analog input which will allow you to plug a smartphone or any other analog source, as well as a 3.5mm stereo line out which will allow you to link the speaker to a Hi-Fi system.
Onkyo opted for relatively sober aesthetics for its VC-PX30 speaker. Its box, wholly covered of black acoustic cloth, presents an ellipsoidal section. The rubber top side is slightly tilted in order to present an easier access to the commands located there, and also makes more visible the multicolored light ring indicating the status of the speaker and separating the command panel from the rest of the speaker.
Just below, you will see a view of the command panel, where you can see three small holes corresponding to the location of the microphones dedicated to the Amazon Alexa system.
Four keys will allow you to memorize as many radio stations and launch them with a simple touch. Under the memory key is located the playback/pause one, then come the volume - and volume + keys, and also the key allowing you to shut down the microphone, Amazon Alexa becoming ineffective in this case. Finally, the last key allows you to call upon Alexa without using your voice.
On the bottom of the rear panel is located the coaxial plug for the wall-mounting power supply unit as well as one 3.5mm analog input and one similar output. Above them, there are two USB ports, a type A and a micro USB one, which will only be used for maintenance operations.
Then, you will find three small round keys of increasing diameter. By pressing the smallest for 8 seconds, you will reinitialize the speaker to its factory defaults. The second one is used for Wi-Fi pairings, and pressing it for 8 seconds will launch the Wi-Fi settings, while if you only press it for 3 seconds, you’ll switch to WPS mode, and a simple touch will cancel operations. Finally, the third one, the biggest key, will allow you to power on or off the device.
We were not able to access the internals of this speaker, so, regarding technical specifications, we will only be able to provide you with the few indications delivered by the manufacturer, i.e. that the amplifiers are switching models (class D) and that the acoustic section uses two wide band 6.5 cm woofers helped in the lower frequencies by two oblong passive 105*59mm radiators allowing the speaker, according to Onkyo, to reach a frequency response ranging from 28 Hz to 20 kHz, which seems to us a bit optimistic in the bass, the 28 Hz frequency being rarely achieved by most Hi-Fi speakers, or only with important attenuation. And yet Onkyo, which means “sound” in Japanese, has known for a long time Hi-Fi and its measurements.
Whatever the case, the sound reproduction, even with only one speaker, is pleasant and offers nice smoothness and consistency while listening to Gounod’s Messe No. 7 performed by the Capella Musica Seoul and displays some responsiveness and dynamics with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana performed by the London Philharmonic Choir and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Graf (24-Bit/44.1 kHz Hi-Res version), even if the very low frequencies, while being present, show a lack of naturalness, which isn’t the case with the treble which offer nice staccatos.
As for sound volume, we did not have to go to its maximum to really enjoy the restitution next to the speaker, which was behaving nicely on the forte blending orchestra and choirs.
Also, and much surprisingly, this Onkyo VC-PX30 handles well the very bassy titles North Star and Silent Space from the album Tale Of Us. Admittedly, the sharpness and firmness of the bass couldn’t rival those of Hi-Fi speakers equipped with more advanced bass speakers, but despite its small size, the VC-PX30 hits its mark!
The few playbacks we’ve done have been realized on the Qobuz application integrated into the Onkyo Play-Fi application. Here is a small tutorial with screenshots below (for iPad):
- The Onkyo DTS Play-Fi application on the Apple Store.
- The application’s home page.
- The license agreement.
- Displaying notifications can be accepted or refused.
- Selecting the name you want to give to the speaker, including one of your own choosing.
- The name “Office” was chosen, as well as the automatic reconnection of the speaker on the application’s next launch.
- The connection with the speaker “Office” is active.
- Clicking on the gearwheel gives you access to the settings. It is worth noting that the Surround effect can only be activated with two mono speakers set up in stereo or with a unique stereo speaker.
- The online music services that we have deactivated, aside from Qobuz...
- Advanced settings.
- Warning about the more advanced playback modes.
- The choices allowing advanced playbacks.
- If you choose Qobuz, you must log-in.
- Choosing Qobuz’ streaming quality, with a warning prompt indicating that if the Critical Listening Mode wasn’t selected, the files will be subsampled at the best possible quality.
- The 24-Bit/192 kHz Hi-Res quality has been selected.
- The menu of the Qobuz application.
- The “Discover” menu with the new releases, the Qobuz selections, the best-sellers.
- The playback of an album.
We have listened in part to the album present on the screenshot below by connecting the speaker’s Jack output to our Sony UDA-1 amplifier, and the quality of the sound restitution could easily and confidently be qualified as Hi-Fi.
To conclude, pleasant and able to reproduce Qobuz and other musical files in Hi-Res, this small Onkyo VC-PX30 speaker does an honest job, sometimes even in a surprising manner.