SA Silverback 1 system feature image

System Audio Silverback 1 wireless system review

A recurring theme for us is that there is always a solution for the hifi enthusiast, regardless of the size of their listening space.

Smaller rooms inevitably lead to concessions and compromises in where to locate components, which is why many in the audio game offer a variety of petite system solutions.

Thankfully the growing acceptance of active hifi speakers and digital streaming makes space less of an obstacle than it once was, and if your abode is a small flat it’s still possible to achieve impressive results with less imposing hifi gear. The advent of the WiSA wireless standard has also helped this, allowing high quality audio to be transmitted without the challenges of compression (Bluetooth) and latency (WiFi).

SA Silverback 1 front on

System Audio’s Siilverback 1 active loudspeaker is a petite two-way design with clean and purposeful looks in either sleek white or black satin finishes

A major advocate of the WiSA active speakers approach is Denmark’s System Audio (SA). Now in its 40th year, company founder and chief engineer Ole Witthøft continues to push the boundaries of wireless audio through his Silverback range, with the Silverback 1 system under review here building on the success of its larger siblings (including its Audio Legend 7.2 Silverback speakers which recently graced these pages), by offering the brand’s system approach at a more affordable price.

Backs to the wall

Starting with the Silverback 1 speaker (priced at £1,800 per pair), the spec sheet is immediately impressive given their compact dimensions of just 310 x 325 x 135mm (WHD), with each unit containing an 80W Class D amplifier and boasting a 45Hz – 25kHz dynamic range.

SA Silverback 1 bass driver

140mm paper pulp mid/bass woofer sports an inverted dustcap and ribbed roll surround

Their sealed cabinets play host to a front firing 140mm mid/bass driver and 25mm soft dome tweeter, with the latter recessed within its own waveguide. They’re also versatile in terms of positioning too, eschewing a rear firing bass port to make them equally at home on bookshelves or flush wall mounted via dedicated brackets on their back panels.

SA Silverback 1 tweeters

25mm soft dome tweeters showing their stepped waveguides for more precise high frequency dispersion

Alongside their internal amp, there’s also a Texas Instruments Power DAC onboard that can be paired wirelessly with any WiSA compatible hub or preamp. And of course being actively driven, the only essential wiring needed for the speakers are their mains leads, meaning no fussing around with long and inconvenient speaker cable runs.

SA Silverback 1 rear speaker panel

Silverback 1 rear panel showing its mains input and optional line-in (RCA) socket. A wall mount bracket and cable channel allows them to be flush mounted to a rear wall

Join the hub

Of course despite their universal WiSA compatability, System Audio has designed these speakers to be partnered with its own compact Stereo Hub control until, costing £400

Catering for both two channel or 2.1 (should a WiSA subwoofer such as SA’s Sub Solo be added) its compatible with Google Chromecast, Apple Airplay 2, Bluetooth 5.0, DLNA UPnP, Spotify Connect and comes Roon Ready, with DSP support up to 24-bit/192kHz, while claiming no detectable latency.

SA Silverback 1 control unit and remote

Neat and discreet, the Stereo Hub control unit needs little space, while the supplied remote is well thought out

Unfortunately the Hub’s complement of digital and analogue inputs does not include an ethernet port, so networking is over WiFi or Bluetooth only. The supplied remote control however is more practical than most as being WiSA compliant it doesn’t need a direct line of sight to the Stereo Hub to operate it, while for the more online savvy there’s SA’s Cockpit app (available for both Android and iOS devices).

SA Silverback 1 control box rear panel

The Stereo Hub’s digital inputs include a trio of optical sockets, plus coaxial, HDMI and USB-B, while a single set of RCA sockets and 3.5mm jack cater for analogue sources

Connections include power supply and RCA inputs for additional two channel sources such as a CD player or phono stage equipped turntable, alongside digital sockets spread over optical, coaxial, USB and HDMI. Home cinema enthusiasts can also consider SA’s Surround Hub which supports up to eight channels and for multiroom systems you can add more hubs into a single managed setup.

What’s obvious about the whole system is how it’s been designed to blend into a domestic space rather than dominate it. There’s no outlandish styling or eye-catching exotic veneer to drool over, and if you want your hifi heard and not seen the hub can be hidden from view altogether.

SA Silverback 1 with grille on

Magnetically attached grilles are part of the Silverback 1 package

Head to the cockpit

Setup requires a few steps, starting with Chromecast pairing using the Google Home app, followed by adding the Cockpit app to connect to the Hub and pairing it with the speakers over WiSA. All that’s left to do is configure the speakers as left/right stereo channels.

Cockpit’s Room Service setup also offers room correction and optimisation by capturing a sound profile through a smartphone at various points in the listening room via a white noise signal from the speakers. You can also configure these settings manually, but I found that the automated approach gives the best results.

Cockpit app

Inside SA’s Cockpit app showing setup and its Room Service configurator


With setup activities complete and the cabinets located across my 4 x 5m room’s width and placed with their backs against a wall around 3.5 metres apart, the title track from The Beatles’ Get Back, The Rooftop Performance at 16-bit/44.1kHz via Tidal kicks things off nicely.

The SIlverbacks immediately impress before a musical note is played, thanks to how they capture the band’s opening preamble. Starr’s questions to the director, for example, before a flourish on the cymbals as the rest of the fabs set up their instruments creates an air of genuine anticipation, because of the realism these speakers conjure. And the musical excitement continues, hearing the title track take off around one minute in has the Silverbacks really coming on song, conveying the live experience with palpable energy. There’s real dynamism and a sense of precision to how Ringo’s drumming is reproduced that gets my foot tapping and bears out the promised minimisation in latency.

It is clear that the SAs punch above their weight in the upper bass stakes too, with McCartney’s notes sounding intentionally taught, creating the essence of the track’s rhythm, rather than smothering it.

Under attack

Getting physical with an Arcam CD72 CD player plumbed into the Stereo Hub’s DAC via an optical connection brings equally pleasing results. Better Things from Massive Attack’s Protection album is a great test for any speaker, as this floor shaker can sound like a flatulent toad wading through treacle on lesser kit, but not so via the SA Silverback 1 system.
Its potentially troublesome relentless beat is nimbly dispatched with clarity and a welcome absence of muddiness, instead there’s a convincing sense of power in the music’s driving low notes while leaving plenty of space for the hypnotic guitar and Tracey Thorn’s yearning vocals to fill the soundstage, making for a truly entrancing listen.

It’s also notable how big this system sounds given it’s demure proportions, including at lower volumes, which is a key consideration if this were to be used in a study for example, where you’re unlikely to be cranking up the volume on a regular basis.

SA Silverback 1 with one side on

At just 13.5cm deep, the Silverback 1’s angled profile allows it to project the sound away from the floor when freestanding

With this in mind, moving the system to my 3m square office hits the right notes. With Gomez’s debut album Bring It On dialled in via Tidal at 16/44 and Whipping Piccadilly highlights two elements of this system’s performance. Firstly the speakers have no trouble in occupying much smaller spaces without overwhelming them or sounding compromised. Secondly, there is a real sense of clarity in the way they present all the varied elements within the track from guitars to percussion and vocal harmonies, because of how much air and space they afford each performer.

In summary

What this system highlights is how much can still be achieved without the more traditional hifi ‘essentials’ being in place.

No room for an imposing hifi stand and multiple components? Worry not. You need speakers that can live on walls? No problem. And most importantly you don’t want your music compromised? Then the Silverback 1 package could be the answer you’ve been looking for.

This isn’t a system for showy types, nor is it one for traditionalists, but for the space challenged enthusiast who puts the sound above all else, you need look no further.


Dynaudio Emit 20 loudspeaker review


VPI Weisline tonearm cable by Nordost review