Wireless speaker recommendation?
June 18, 2010 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Has wireless speaker technology matured? What do you recommend?

I'm looking to set up a multi-room audio system but can't run wire to all the rooms. Review of speaker sets (Amazon and similar) seem hit or miss - some people love them, some horror stories. Can anyone recommend systems that have worked for them? Or point me toward review sites that have more info than shopping sites?
posted by macfly to Technology (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
My squeezebox boom works well for me. I only have one, but know folks with multiples (which can be configured to keep playback synchronized). I also researched the Sonos series (esp the S5) and would have gone that route except for it being out of stock at the time I was looking to buy.
posted by devbrain at 9:52 AM on June 18, 2010

How many rooms? I bought one of the wireless units from audioengineusa and it's great. The speakers I have it connected to are crappy, and I'm saving up for a pair of their larger powered speakers which have a built in powered USB port to work with the wireless unit.

They have a 30 day trial period, so it's pretty risk free.

If you want to add more than an extra room to your setup, you'd have to buy multiple kits.

I've tried a few wireless Sony speakers and was totally unhappy with them.
posted by reddot at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2010

I have two of these speakers from Accoustic Research. When I bought them, they were around $60 to $70 each. I use one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom to listen to podcasts from my computer in the dining room.

I have been very happy with both of them.

The only downside is that when there is no sound being sent to the transmitter, ie, like when I pause ITunes or when the podcasts come to an end, there will be loud static-y noises coming from the speakers. So, it's best to turn the volume all the way down on the speakers when you leave the room. Also, when I resume sending sound again, I usually have to reset the channel selector on the bedroom speaker. You do this by pushing in on the volume knob. I sort of had to figure that out. I don't remember it being clearly explained in the manual.
posted by marsha56 at 10:44 AM on June 18, 2010

I think we talked about this topic once before and the story was it's highly variable due to whatever local radio interference you have in your location.

Are you sure you can't run wire? That's not a recommendation but I'd rather run weird flat wire than radio solutions any day.
posted by chairface at 11:46 AM on June 18, 2010

OOH OOH! I've just come off of WEEKS plumbing the depths of exactly this topic, and I found a fantastic solution that I've been dying to share with people (so thanks!).

Ampohny. No, you've probably never heard of them, but you'll want to! They sell a wireless digital audio system that is just freaking perfect as far as I'm concerned. It's uncompressed digital transmission at no-BS CD quality, transmitting at 5.8 gHz (ie. away from WiFi frequencies), and with about 1 millisecond of delay, which equals roughly 1 foot of speaker placement. (I've seen other brands brag about getting their delay down to 15 milliseconds, when most of their gear is usually above 60 milliseconds.)

And, as these things go, they're cheap! The exact cost varies depending on which models you choose, but all the options are a fraction of the cost of competing approaches, though you do have to use your own speakers.

As for those different models, they basically break down to three options:
1. Throw just the line-out signal to feed into an amp/receiver/portable stereo

2. Throw a signal and directly power a stereo pair of speakers with the receiver's integrated amp

3. Throw a signal to separate left and right receivers, each with an integrated amp dedicated to its one left or right channel speaker
The last option is Amphony's premium setup, costing $200 for whole package with the transmitter and two separate receivers with integrated 50-watt amps. The second option, with an integrated 20-watt stereo amp, costs $80 at ThinkGeek for the transmitter and receiver/amp pair. Amphony's own web-store sells individual additional receivers, to add more locations to your setup (look under Transmitter Accessories and Amplifier Accessories).

I own an un-amplified transmitter and receiver pair for (the first option), and I might marry it if I wasn't already married. It covers my whole medium-sized, three-floor, single family home, including out on our deck. I'm buying more receivers as soon as I get the rest of the gear to which they will provide signals.

FYI, 5.8 gHz does get a lot of interaction with structural stuff, but any interference is hyper-local and moving the receiver 1 foot or less yields a permanently locked and flawless signal.

I was a little skeptical before buying the unit, because I'd never heard of these people and they have tiny tiny web presence, but I am such a believer now!
posted by NortonDC at 12:02 PM on June 18, 2010 [9 favorites]

An AirPort Express may be what you're looking for... If you are ok using iTunes to control your music, it gives you great control over which speakers you'll play from. It's a little pricey, at like $85 per room (plus the cost of speakers), but it's very slick.
posted by allen8219 at 1:10 PM on June 18, 2010

Whoops, that's Amphony, not Amphony. I guess I got a little excited there. (But it is really good stuff!)
posted by NortonDC at 7:26 PM on June 18, 2010

Holy crap, my correction is over-corrected.
posted by NortonDC at 9:07 PM on June 18, 2010

I'd also recommend the Airport Express box. I have one and I love it. I bought it to stream my iTunes from my Mac or PC laptop to my stereo in the living room... but then one day while doing something stupid to my Linksys router, I realized the Airport Express box is also a wireless router. My bricked Linksys hasn't been touched since. My music streams wirelessly, and my internet is now more reliable too!

posted by 2oh1 at 9:53 PM on June 18, 2010

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