Before you invest a lot of money in a whole house wireless audio system, you might consider something less expensive and more modular. For instance, Audioengine manufactures a number of wireless stereo system components for under $150 that might be all you need.
The Audioengine W1 may be confusing to understand from its photograph but imagine it as a wireless stereo system with only the stereo cable itself made wireless.
It comes in two parts: a transmitter and a receiver. Together, they form a pair of wireless audio transmitters. Both have a mini-jack stereo input on one end and a USB on the other. Plug your music source (e.g. MP3 player or laptop) into the transmitter and your amplifier or powered speakers into the other. Voila! Now you have a wireless stereo system.
Range is 100 feet.
The kit comes with a variety of cables to handle most circumstances. For instance, if your amplifier has phono/RCA inputs, then use the mini-jack to phono converter cable provided.
Sadly, the wireless audio transmitters are not self-powered (battery or solar would have been nice) and need to get power from somewhere. That’s why they have a USB cable/dongle hanging off of one end. Thankfully, the dongle on the transmitter can be used for USB audio, so if your computer/laptop is your music source… then you can power the device AND stream the audio from the same USB. However, this won’t be true of the receiver… which is why the kit comes with a USB AC Adapter, so you can plug it into the wall.
When you think about it, there are a variety of uses for this product. For instance, you could use it with your favourite earphones and turn them into wireless headphones – without having to purchase a separate, dedicated pair of wireless headphones (which are probably expensive and not precisely the ones you want anyway). Audiophiles who spend a lot on their headphones (like I did with my in-ear Shures) will rejoice that we can now make them into wireless earphones, too.
If you purchase a pair of powered speakers, you could turn them into wireless speakers for your PC. This gives you a lot more flexibility and choice, as opposed to having to purchase a dedicated, wireless speaker system.
Audioengine even makes bookshelf, powered speakers that have a USB port to provide power to their W1/W2 products.
If you own an iPhone/iPod, then there’s a cheaper and more elegant solution called the Audioengine W2. This time, the audio wireless transmitter fits neatly on the end of the iPhone/iPod. It comes with a matching wireless receiver to complete your wireless sound system.
Range is around 50 feet.
It would be fantastic if the wireless audio receiver supported Airplay (like the Apple Airport Express does) but, sadly, it does not. Still, this makes W1/W2 products much more versatile in that they support non-Apple products. Perhaps in the future Audioengine will consider Airplay support on top of their already impressive specs.
You might also be interested in…
HeadRoom’s Total BitHead Portable Headphone Amplifier [REVIEW]
Surround Sound for your iPad / iPhone – SRS iWow 3D [REVIEW]
PocketDock iPhone audio enhancement – line out USB connector [REVIEW]
X-Mini Max II ultraportable capsule speakers [REVIEW]
iHome iPad / iPhone Speaker Dock – iD9
Best noise reducing earphones – Shure sound isolating in ear [REVIEW]
Best In-Ear Headphones for £80 and under – T3