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Key Points For Picking The Best Wireless Audio Transmitter Device For Whole-House Audio Streaming

The latest series of wireless audio transmitter products claims streaming of music throughout the house without limits. We will take a look at the most common technologies for wireless audio and give some advice for choosing the best wireless audio product.

Running music in your house can be a intimidating job. Numerous houses are not wired for multi-room audio and getting the music from your living room to your bed room can be quite a challenge. Products which solve this difficulty are mostly based on the following technologies: infrared wireless, RF wireless, wireless LAN or powerline.

Infrared is limited to line of sight because the audio signal is broadcast as lightwaves and therefore products using this technology, such as infrared wireless surround sound products, are restricted to a single room.

RF wireless audio products send the music signal via radio waves. These radio wave signals can easily go through walls. The signal is broadcast either by using FM transmission or digital transmission. FM transmitters are the least expensive alternative. They offer decent range but the audio signal is prone to audio distortion and static and is very susceptible to interference from other wireless transmitters.

Products which employ digital wireless audio transmission employ a digital protocol. Such products include transmitters from Amphony. In this protocol, prior to transmission the audio signal is converted to digital data. Some wireless audio transmitters will utilize audio compression, such as Bluetooth transmitters which will lower the audio quality to some extent. Digital wireless audio transmitters which broadcast the audio uncompressed offer the highest audio fidelity.

Wireless LAN (WLAN) products are practical when streaming from a PC but will add some amount of latency or delay to the signal because wireless LAN was not originally designed for real-time audio streaming. WLAN receivers ordinarily require purchasing a separate LAN card to be plugged into each receiver.

Powerline devices utilize the power mains to distribute audio and offer large range but run into problems if there are separate mains circuits in the house in terms of crossing between circuits. Powerline products have another challenge in the form of power surges and spikes which can cause transmission errors. To prevent audio dropouts, these products will generally have an audio latency of several seconds as a safeguard.

Here are some recommendations for choosing a wireless audio system: If you plan to stream audio into numerous rooms of your home, be sure to choose a system that permits streaming to several receivers at the same time. That way you don’t have to purchase a separate transmitter for every receiver that you are streaming to. Selecting a product with some sort of error correction will help mitigate against strong RF interference. Such interference can be brought on by other wireless transmitters. Choose 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.

Pick a transmitter that has all of the audio inputs you need, e.g. speaker inputs, RCA inputs etc. Get a wireless system where you can buy additional 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. Choose a transmitter that can adjust the audio volume of the input stage. This will give you the versatility to connect the transmitter to any kind of equipment with different signal levels. Otherwise the audio may get clipped inside the transmitter converter stage or the dynamic range is not fully used.

Make sure that the system offers amplified receivers with a digital amplifier to ensure high power efficiency. This will help keep the receiver cool during operation. Also, make sure the amplifier provides low audio distortion. This is crucial for good sound quality. Check that the amplified receiver is able to drive speakers with the desired Ohm rating and that it is small and easily mountable for simple set up. Products which work in the 5.8 GHz frequency band will have less problems with wireless interference than products using the crowded 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequency band.

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Originally posted 2004-05-09 05:18:26.