AIAIAI Unit-4 Wireless+ studio monitors prove they are unparalleled
Danish brand AIAIAI has made studio-quality wireless speaker monitoring a reality.
AIAIAI Unit-4 wireless monitor speaker. Image: AIAIAI
⊕ Natural, balanced sound with lots of power available br>
⊕ Works on battery with 22 hours of playback br>
⊕ Physical inputs plus regular Bluetooth br>
⊖ No USB-C power option br>
⊖ W+ Link streaming will need to be important to you to justify the price br>
Danish audio specialist AIAIAI impressed us with its TMA-2 wireless studio headphones back in 2022 and has now ventured into new territory with the Unit-4 speakers, which it claims are the world’s first hi-res wireless studio monitors. If you’re wondering what sets them apart from other high-end wireless speakers to justify that label, it’s their ability to wirelessly stream uncompressed audio, bypassing the data compression used by Bluetooth. But that’s not all that makes them appealing for producers, both mobile and studio-based – there’s more.
How big are the AIAIAI Unit-4 speakers?
The speakers are relatively small and lightweight at just 200 x 340 x 340mm and 2.5kg per speaker. They sport detachable metal grilles for protection and a user-adjustable LED light ring around each cone that provides various kinds of visual feedback regarding battery levels and power status.
The speakers are identical but each can be set to act as the left or right channel, or they can work in mono mode. They’re also designed to work in the upright position or in wedge monitor orientation on their sides, and have buttons on the top surface for power and volume.
AIAIAI’s idea here is to give you the option of going completely wire-free if you choose. And to that end, each speaker contains a 77 Wh battery with a charge time of two hours that offers around 20 hours of playback. Each speaker comes with its own separate power supply so you can charge both at the same time or run them off the mains if you need to. It’s a shame there’s no USB-C charging option, but this is likely due to the variety of chargers out there and the fact that many would charge the speakers more slowly than you’d like.
How do you connect the AIAIAI Unit-4?
To get started, download the dedicated app and place the speakers into pairing mode with your smartphone or tablet, whereupon it detects them and you can perform any available firmware updates.
Regular Bluetooth 5.2 streaming is supported, though in this mode you will be subject to the same compression and latency as with other Bluetooth speakers. Still, it does mean anyone can hook up to them if needed, like at a party for example. Each speaker has a 3.5mm and a 6.3mm balanced TRS input so they can be used in wired mode as well.
The real magic happens when you connect AIAIAI’s X02 transmitter that comes with the speakers. This is a USB-C wireless dongle that can communicate with the speakers using a much higher bandwidth connection, streaming uncompressed 44.1kHz, 16-bit audio up to an impressive 12 metres.
Pairing is simple, once again. Switch the speakers into W+ Link mode and the dongle, plugged into your iPad or computer, connects to them. The X02 appears as an audio device to which you can route sound with a latency of just 16ms, compared to a rough average of 150 ms with Bluetooth audio devices. Tested with an iPad Pro, the dongle works effectively, which is promising for anyone DJ’ing or performing from a USB-C-equipped iPad.
Configuring the sound of the AIAIAI Unit-4
The fact that the speakers can work entirely without wires means they can be placed however you like, but in order to maintain a conventional stereo soundstage you’ll want to stick to direct or slightly inward-facing placements.
The developers have tuned the speakers for use on a desk or close to a wall, and there are EQ presets you can apply from the app to compensate for particular kinds of placement, as well as freely setting the EQ yourself. Some of these reduce bass to cope with wall reflections (the speakers are rear ported), while others reduce the low-mid range to deal with desk reflections.
These tweaks really do make a difference and so are worth paying attention to. Placed in an open area, the speakers may seem to lack a little bass since they are by default set up to cope with placement nearer to a wall – however this is easily compensated for using the software EQ.
They can also be placed on their side to work in wedge monitor orientation which, again, might require a slight EQ change to suit your tastes. The tweeter waveguide has been optimised for a relatively wide sweet spot and this does indeed make them less directional than you might expect from such compact speakers.
Inside each Unit-4 is a 4-inch woofer and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter with a frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz and these are powered by dual 30W amps that have a maximum SPL of 105dB. There’s plenty of volume available and even when pushed hard, the speakers don’t exhibit distortion. Low end – with a reminder about the placement caveat above – is solid and accurate, without ever appearing boomy.
In general listening, the speakers are pleasingly neutral which is, of course, what you want from reference monitors – to trust that what you’re hearing isn’t being coloured so you can more accurately mix or master. The lows, mids and highs are well balanced, the speakers offering a coherent soundstage.
The other key thing here is the super-low latency you get with the X02 adapter, which means that time-critical monitoring like recording or DJ’ing works just as well as with a wired connection – which is also one of your options.
But the wireless option means not having to carry an audio interface to achieve latency-free, CD-quality speaker monitoring and that’s really valuable for people working on the move or creating sounds in the box.
The battery is a useful addition here too, offering the chance to work anywhere for a respectable length of time without having to lug extra gear around. Unusually, the speaker design allows you to swap out pretty much any component, should they need replacing in future.
As hi-res wireless studio speakers, these are without parallel at the moment. IK Multimedia’s iLoud MTMs cost slightly more and have better physical connectivity, while the same brand’s iLoud Micro Monitors are more affordable. But neither have uncompressed streaming or a battery, so are more tied to your desktop and are ultimately a different proposition.
Are AIAIAI’s Unit-4 speakers worth buying?
The Unit-4 is a seriously capable studio monitor when used in regular wired mode and a fun party speaker over Bluetooth. But the premium you’re paying is for that third element – the uncompressed wireless mode that lets you monitor, mix or master without a separate interface to connect the speakers.
If that’s not vital to your workflow there are other options, but as things stand right now, these are the only studio speakers offering that choice – and they offer it superbly.
- Drivers: 4-inch woofer; 1-inch tweeter
- Battery power with 20 hours of playback
- W+ Link ultra low latency, CD quality wireless streaming
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 3.5mm and 6.3mm physical inputs
- User-definable software EQ
- Rear bass port
- X02 wireless transmitter over USB-C
- 30W bi-amped
- 2 PSUs supplied
- Most components user-replaceable
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