Running audio in your house can be a intimidating job. Many houses are not wired for multi-room audio and getting the music from your living room to your bed room can be quite a problem. There are several technologies solving this problem. These include infrared wireless, RF wireless, wireless LAN (WLAN) and powerline.
Infrared is limited to line of sight because the audio signal is sent as lightwaves and for that reason devices utilizing this technology, such as infrared product models, are limited to a single room.
RF wireless music devices send the music signal via radio waves. These radio wave signals can without difficulty go through walls. The signal is broadcast either by using FM transmission or digital transmission. The least expensive option is FM transmission. Products using FM transmission, on the other hand, have a number of drawbacks. These include degradation of the audio quality due to static or hiss and audio distortion. In addition, FM transmitter products are also fairly susceptible to interference from other wireless transmitters.
Products using digital wireless audio transmission, such as Amphony audio transmitter products, employ a digital protocol in which the audio is converted to a digital signal before transmission. This conversion and transmission in the digital domain will guarantee that the original audio quality is maintained. 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 degree.
Products utilizing wireless LAN are practical when streaming audio from a PC. Their downside is that they usually have some fairly high latency, i.e. the signal will be delayed by some amount since wireless LAN was not specifically designed for real-time audio streaming. WLAN receivers often do not have built-in network access. As a result, such products often require buying separate LAN cards. These cards are then plugged into every receiver.
Powerline devices utilize the power mains to distribute audio and provide great range but run into trouble if there are individual mains circuits in the house in terms of crossing between circuits. Another challenge facing powerline products are strong power surges and spikes. Such surges can cause dropouts in the audio due to errors in the transmission. To safeguard against these errors, powerline products commonly build a delay of several seconds into the transmission.
Here are some recommendations for picking a wireless audio system: If you plan to stream audio into several rooms of your home, be sure to pick a system that allows streaming to several receivers at the same time. That way you don't have to buy a separate transmitter for each receiver that you are streaming to. Some devices have some type of error correction built in which will help guard against dropouts in case of strong wireless interference. Digital RF audio transmitters will be able to maintain the original audio quality. If you have time-critical applications where sync of the audio is crucial then you should get a transmitter with a low audio latency. An audio latency of less than 10 ms would be appropriate for most scenarios.
Make sure the wireless transmitter provides the audio inputs you require. You may need amplified speaker inputs, RCA audio inputs etc. Get a wireless system where you can purchase separate receivers later on. You should check 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. Pick a transmitter that can regulate the audio volume of the input stage. This will give you the flexibility 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.
Ensure that the system offers amplified receivers with a digital amplifier to ensure high power efficiency. This will help keep the receiver cool during operation. In addition, make sure the amplifier offers low audio distortion. This is crucial for good sound quality. Check that the amplified receiver can drive speakers with the preferred Ohm rating and that it is small and easily mountable for easy installation. 5.8 GHz wireless devices typically have less trouble with interference from other wireless transmitters than products operating at 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz.
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