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REVIEWED
REVIEWED: AlphaTheta WAVE-EIGHT
By Brian Mole.
When AlphaTheta announced the Omnis-Duo and the WAVE-EIGHT portable DJ system, I got really excited. The WAVE-EIGHT is a class-D amplified 8" portable battery speaker. It has been designed to be used outdoors, boasting an IPX4 waterproof rating, which I guess is a good thing considering the weather we’ve endured so far this year!

And it's clearly aimed at smaller events like beach parties, camping get-togethers, pool parties, and venues where there is no mains power available. For us mobile DJs, cables can be a real pain. They get in the way, and they take time to deploy and pack up at the end of an event.

So, the opportunity of getting my hands on a wireless, battery-powered PA system was fantastic. Wireless systems have been around for years but often only using Bluetooth connectivity, which brings its own problems. Bluetooth is impossible to DJ with due to the inherent delays it creates, capable of throwing any DJ who mixes into an impossible situation. I have used battery-powered Bluetooth PA speakers for background music for years, but you would never use them for live mixing a DJ set! There are a few other solutions out there, but this one is really quite unique and impressive. Each WAVE-EIGHT includes a built-in Bluetooth receiver, which is great for background music, for example. But there is also a proprietary built-in 2.4GHz SonicLink, an ultra-low latency connection that allows us to use the speaker as a PA system for mixing live DJ sets with no delays. This is achieved with the aid of a supplied stereo, rechargeable battery-powered transmitter, which is docked inside the WAVE-EIGHT for easy recharging and transport.

The system is genius and works really well in practice. You can also expand the system to include multiple WAVE-EIGHT speakers in left, right or mono, and there are presets which allow you to use different sound profiles. Each WAVE-EIGHT can be configured using a built-in DSP as MUSIC, SUBWOOFER, MUSIC LOW CUT (to accompany a sub), FLAT, VOCAL, or FLAT LOW CUT. These are all selected from a control panel on the top at the back of the speaker.

Underneath a waterproof flap are further controls and connections, including two XLR/TRS combo line inputs, a 3.5mm jack AUX input, a 1/4" TRS jack MIC input, a USB-C power output (2.1A 5V), MIC EQ, gain, and echo controls, and an XLR line out. Being able to charge a phone or tablet from a battery speaker is brilliant, though it will obviously have an effect on the run-time. There is also an IEC socket to allow mains use, as well as for charging the internal battery and the docked transmitter. The internal battery will run for about eight hours from full, which is plenty of time for an average party. You can always top up the battery power from the mains whilst the speaker is running.
The plastic construction of the WAVE-EIGHT is very sturdy and features several waterproof flaps to cover the various panels and protect the internals. I love the solid-feeling handles – fitted to the top and one side, they’re ideal for transport.

Meanwhile, the rubberised feet on the base and sides allow for multiple placement. The WAVE-EIGHT also has a pair of wheels at the back and a telescopic handle to help you move the unit around, but I would suggest using this on perfect floors only! (Besides, the WAVE-EIGHT is not particularly heavy.) On the base is a standard 35mm pole mount, which means you can mount this on a standard speaker tripod or stand.

The front of the speaker features a tough grille to protect the woofer, and a plastic bar to protect the tweeter. I prefer a discreet full-metal grille to cover the whole of the front, but it’s a distinctive look that may well appeal to others. There are also two LEDs on the front – one indicates power, the other shows the connectivity. Usefully, the power indicator will blink when the battery runs low, and the connectivity indicator glows green to indicate SonicLink connection or blue to indicate Bluetooth connection.

I have actually bought a pair of WAVE-EIGHTs, as I can see a fair few benefits to owning these speakers. Their first outing was to an NADJ speaker event in the Midlands, where they sounded great. Since then, I have demonstrated them at the SEDA AGM, where they created a fair bit of interest, as well as using them to provide background and ceremony music at a wedding, which was perfect.

My son Simon and I also found them fun to use when we DJed an outdoor event together.
With the weather improving (I hope), I have many more events lined up where I’m sure the WAVE-EIGHTs will prove their worth.

Ideal for mobile DJs, I love the fact that the WAVE-EIGHT is so portable and the battery life is plenty for a day’s work. But it also sounds great, especially considering it’s only an 8” speaker. I also feel the SonicLink is well thought out and implemented, and great to use overall.

I do prefer a more discreet look for my speakers, with a single metal grille, and I would’ve loved it if the WAVE-EIGHT came with protective transit covers. Thankfully, Andy Dykes of Paladyn created some great slip on covers for me, which do the job well. This is all down to personal taste and preference at the end of the day.

With the continued use of sound limiters in more and more venues, I could see these speakers becoming the choice of many mobile DJs out there! Although, I do hope the WAVE-EIGHT is the start of a wider series from Alpha-Theta, as I would also love to see a slightly bigger unit.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 125, Pages 82-83.
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