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Polk Omni S6 wireless speaker review: Play-Fi hardware is still hobbled by Play-Fi software

Theo Nicolakis | Aug. 17, 2016
This speaker's price tag, sound, and feature set are appealing enough, but it's all undermined by a distinctly mediocre app.

As long as it’s been since we last looked at a DTS Play-Fi speaker, one thing hasn’t changed: The Play-Fi app still sucks. And that’s too bad, because Polk’s Omni S6 wireles speaker delivers good sound and a strong set of features at an attractive price. 

The Omni S6 is part of Polk’s Omni wireless multi-room system, which includes the battery-powered, indoor/outdoor Omni S2R speaker we reviewed earlier, the Omni A1 digital amplifier, the Omni SB1 sound bar and subwoofer, and the Omni P2 wireless adapter that you can connect to your existing A/V receiver. Being Play-Fi components, they can be used together or in combination with any other wireless component in the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem. 

Lots of multi-room, multi-speaker features

The Omni S6 houses two 4.0-inch full-range drivers and two 3/4-inch tweeters powered by four-channel amplifier. A dual-band Wi-Fi adapter connects the speaker to your wireless router and to other Play-Fi devices (DTS recommends a maximum of 16 Play-Fi devices on your network). There’s an 1/8-inch aux input for legacy devices, and you can add Bluetooth connectivity via a $30 USB adapter.

Polk Omni S6 rear view
Polk

The Polk Omni S6 includes  an 1/8-inch aux input for legacy sources, but it lacks a Toslink connection for digital connections.

As you’d expect from a modern multi-room audio system, you can stream the same music to multiple Play-Fi speakers (party mode), or you can stream different music to each speaker. Volume levels can controlled as a group or individually. And you can link a pair of Omni S6 speakers together and configure one as the left channel of a stereo pair and other as the right channel.

Unlike some of its competitors—<cough>Sonos<cough>—Play-Fi speakers like the Omni S6 can handle high-resolution music files with up to 24-bit resolution and 192kHz sampling rates. Handle, but not stream, that is: Play-Fi will down-sample such tracks in real time to 16-bit resolution and a sampling rate of 48kHz before streaming (Play-Fi supports FLAC, ALAC, WAV, AAC, and MP3 files). If you can manage to find and enable Critical Listening mode in the Play-Fi app—a task that’s much harder than it should be—you can stream a 24/96 track to a single Play-Fi component without experiencing any down-sampling or transcoding. 

The user interface of the Omni/DTS Play-Fi app is terrible
Theo Nicolakis

The DTS Play-Fi app’s user interface is terrible and inconsistent. On an iPhone 6, about one third of the home screen is blank, even though there are more options you’ll want to see.

 

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