Tips For Choosing The Optimal Wireless Audio Transmitter Device For Whole-House Audio Streaming

Published: 21st June 2010
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A growing number of wireless audio transmitter devices promise the ultimate freedom in streaming music all over the home. We will examine if these newest products are suitable for whole-house audio. Also, we will give important suggestions for choosing a wireless music system.

If your residence is not wired for audio then you face quite a problem when you want to get your music from your living room to your bedroom. Often the audio source cannot be moved. Running speaker wires between rooms will be costly and for that reason a lot of people are searching for alternatives. The following technologies are utilized by devices solving this problem: infrared, RF, wireless LAN and powerline.

Infrared wireless audio products are limited to line-of-sight applications, i.e. only operate within a single room because the signal is sent as infrared light which cannot go through walls. This technology is often found in wireless speaker kit products.

RF wireless products will send the signal as RF waves. These waves can without difficulty go through walls. RF wireless audio devices either utilize FM transmission or digital audio transmission. FM transmission is inexpensive but quite prone to noise, audio distortion and susceptible to interference.

Products utilizing digital wireless audio transmission, such as Amphony audio transmitter products, use a digital protocol in which the audio is converted to a digital signal prior to transmission. This conversion and transmission in the digital domain will make sure that the original audio quality is preserved. However, this is only the case of the data is sent uncompressed. Some wireless audio transmitters will apply some form of audio compression. Such products include Bluetooth audio transmitters. Audio compression will degrade the quality of the audio to some extent.

WLAN products are practical for broadcasting audio from a PC. However, wireless LAN was never designed for real-time audio streaming. As a result, products using WLAN will introduce some amount of delay to the signal. WLAN receivers usually require buying a separate LAN card to be plugged into each receiver.

Powerline products use the power mains as a medium to broadcast the audio. These products normally offer excellent range. However, they face problems if there are several separate mains circuits in the house. In this case the signal will have problems crossing between these circuits. Also, these products build in a delay of a number of seconds to safeguard against transmission errors during power surges and spikes which prevents their use in applications where the audio from wireless speakers has to be in sync with other non-wireless speakers or video.

Here are some hints for selecting a wireless audio system: If you plan to stream audio into several rooms of your home, be certain to pick a system that permits streaming to multiple receivers at the same time. That way you don't have to buy a separate transmitter for each receiver that you are streaming to. Picking a product with some type of error correction will help mitigate against strong RF interference. Such interference can be caused by other wireless transmitters. Pick a digital RF transmitter to maintain the original audio quality, preferably one with an audio latency of less than 10 ms in case of video or other time-sensitive applications.

Make sure the wireless transmitter offers the audio inputs you require. You may need amplified speaker inputs, RCA audio inputs etc. Get a wireless system where you can buy separate receivers later on. You should verify that you can get receivers for all the different applications you have. Such receivers may include amplified receivers for passive speakers or line-level receivers for active speakers. If you go with a digital audio transmitter, select one with an input audio level control knob to prevent the audio signal from clipping inside the transmitter audio converter. This will guarantee optimum dynamic range regardless of the signal level of your equipment.

For high amplifier power efficiency and greatest sound quality, check that the amplified receiver has a built-in low-distortion digital amplifier. Make sure the receivers can drive speakers with your desired Ohm rating. Picking a product where the wireless receivers have a small footprint and easy mounting options will help in the course of the installation. Devices which work in the 5.8 GHz frequency band will have less problems with wireless interference than devices using the crowded 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequency band.

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