My dilemma each summer seems to be how to get music outdoors – not just speakers, that’s easy – but to sit outside and choose without leaving my lawn chair. Traditionally it meant playing a CD and running back and forth, not that my house is large, sort of not the point. Multi-disc player you say? Been there done that, still not the same thing.
Sonos makes a terrific handheld wireless controller, but a basic system will set you back a grand. There are of course a myriad of other whole-house devices and wall mounted keypads, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, and I was tired of putting a two-channel receiver outdoors. I needed something more flexible especially to take advantage of all the music now stored on my computer, in this case, laptop.
- Design: Wireless Audio Transmitter and Receiver for Stereo Analog Audio
- Range: 100 Feet
- Protocol: 802.11
- Radio Band: 2.4 – 2.4835 GHz
- Data Rate: 340 Mbps
- S/N: 91 dB
- Dimensions: 0.3″ H x 4″ W x 1.2″ D
- Weight: 0.5 Pounds
- MSRP: $149 USA
I came across an e-mail from the good guys at Audioengine who had developed some great sounding desktop and bookshelf speakers. The press release was for a device they called Audioengine W1, an adapter that connects any two-channel audio source with any preamp/receiver, including computers, and transfers music wirelessly. The entire package costs $149.
The system includes a transmitter and a receiver and various cables. Each of the devices is clearly marked as to which is transmits and which receives. The receiver must be powered so it comes with a handy narrow AC adapter and a pair of analog RCA cables connecting it to any input device, in my case the back of my A/V receiver. The transmitter is attached via a USB device or a standard 1/8” mini jack like on the top of your iPod and transmits from any source, such as a CD player or the pre-outs on your receiver. Is your subwoofer a bit too far from your A/V receiver to run a cable or the cable is a tripping hazard? This would fix you up just fine.
Regardless, there are many applications and it doesn’t matter whether you have a Mac or PC. Here is a diagram of what you can connect with this product.
I also had a desire to play my digital music in my listening room to my main speakers which prompted me to buy the excellent Benchmark DAC1 USB for my computer to talk to my amplifier and as wonderful as that sounded, it still tethered me between my laptop and my rack. Again, the W1 solved the issue.
Setup or lack thereof is another tremendous benefit to the W1; it’s simply plug and play, no software to install. My laptop found it through the USB connector, and immediately transmitted. Blinking blue lights become solid on either end, telling you the transmitter and receiver are talking to each other, and viola, a 2.4 GHz signal is wirelessly transmitting CD quality music at a data rate of 320 Mbps.
Audioengine claims a distance of about 100 feet, and that’s perfect for me, and it allowed me to take my laptop or iPod outside and use it as a controller. Problem solved, the W1 was marvelous and worked with very few glitches. Indoors it was flawless, but outdoors depending on the distance and how many walls were between transmitter and receiver, I got an occasional hiccup as each track began – it sounded like the song started twice. With my laptop on the move I just found a place outdoors that didn’t seem to have that effect.
Sound quality was as claimed, good CD quality. Frankly outdoors it didn’t matter, the dynamic range was excellent and it played any type format of stored music. Indoors, I was more than satisfied as I felt it lost nothing in the transmission. Would I replace my $1,300 Benchmark DAC for the W1? No, but the differnence was not as much as you would imagine.
So there you have it – how I solved my yearly summer outdoors music problem with a terrific economical device from Audioengine, the AW1. I hate to sound like an advertisement, but order one, give it a try, and send it back if you don’t agree with me that it’s a flexible, high quality, and very useful product.