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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wireless Audio Systemes

Perhaps building a whole-home audio network is not high on your list of priorities, or you don't have an opportunity to run wires while the walls are unfinished. The most popular way of getting audio around the house without a dedicated network is with an RF wireless system. These come in two main flavors:

* Wireless speaker systems connect to the line-level outputs of a source device or preamplifier and send the signal over a 900-MHz or 2.4-GHz channel to a pair of self-amplified stereo speakers.

* Wireless line-level distribution systems hook up to your source components in the same fashion but send their signal to a receiver that hooks into your own amplifier and speakers on the far end.

One major potential difficulty with this sort of wireless system is that it uses a line-level input — something that most source devices have only one of. So you may run into trouble hooking up a CD player, for example, to both a receiver (or amp) for local listening and to one of these devices for remote listening. Luckily, many of these units also accept the output of your receiver or amp's headphone jack, so you can avoid this problem if you have a headphone jack available. Alternately, you can use Y-splitter audio cables.

Major manufacturers of wireless audio systems include:

* Recoton


* RF Link

Another cool wireless product comes from X10 Wireless Technologies. Their MP3 Anywhere system works like the other systems, but it's available with X10's BOOM 2000 software. This software runs on your Windows PC and let's you remotely control and access the PC's MP3 music files, as well as CDs or DVDs played back in the PC's internal drive.

Wi-Fi (the wireless computer networking technology) is popular because it allows people to roam with laptop computers anywhere in the house, staying connected to the Internet without wires. Computers are also becoming an essential source of music (using stored MP3 files or streaming audio over an Internet connection).

Computer manufacturers have been paying attention to these trends and are coming up with new products to bring them together. In particular, Intel has announced products that use Wi-Fi to send PC-based digital audio signals over a Wi-Fi wireless network to a small device that plugs into your audio system. These devices (called Digital Media Adapters) will contain the necessary computer hardware to convert digital signals into analog audio signals that can connect to an audio receiver or to the control amplifier of your whole-home audio system.

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