We love buying shiny new things as much as the next audiophile but sometimes not quite knowing what you want can lead to remorseful and expensive outcomes. So we’re here to give you the lowdown on wireless sound.
1) Wireless and wireless
The first thing’s first, when talking wireless systems you get 2 different types of “wireless:”
- The ability to play music wirelessly from a device (phone or app) that speaks to an audio system through a wireless receiver or capable amp.
- An audio system that uses wifi instead of speaker cables to relay the audio info.
Knowing which type you want (if not a combination of the two) and which type the salesman is talking about is crucial.
Now we get it, you ask for a wireless system and yet, curiously, there are still cables attached to everything; it feels like a lie. Unfortunately, even with the audio cables gone, speakers, no matter how fancy or state of the art, still need power cables to make the magic happen.
3) I can haz internetz
After a steady power supply the most important thing you will need is good Internet. Wifi is very important because it’s how the audio moves through the speakers and it’s also how your audio files are accessed. All of the streaming services, which make these products shine, need fast Internet to gain access to their content. With slow, lagging or lacking Internet access you will land up frustrated and with no “sick beats.”
4) What’s App
Although some systems allow you to connect via Bluetooth directly to your phone, wireless truly comes alive when systems have integrated apps, such as HEOS by Denon. With the HEOS app you can connect all your different streaming services to create playlists on the fly. And thanks to ability to control volume and sound independently in every room you no longer have to listen to Barney’s sing-alongs or your teenagers angry noise, but if you want to share the party you can just drag and drop the room tabs to combine and play. Unlike Bluetooth you can all be connected to it at the same time and don’t need to wait for someone to disconnect before you can have your say.
5) Point One
We have pretty much covered the fact that you can strike up a tune with a wireless system but that’s not all you can do. You can create the mini theatre experience of your dreams by setting up your front stage, back stage and subwoofter speakers wirelessly to a receiver. No longer having audio cables trailing across the room to every speaker in the surrounds will make a world of (aesthetically pleasing) difference.
6) In the dining room, with the candlestick
As with any speaker, the bigger the room the bigger the speaker you need to fill it adequately but there is no standard “walk in and buy” set up. Instead there are many different families of products to cater specifically to the type of experience you are after - indoor or outdoor, roof or room. Whatever you need there is a system and sound that can be custom made for you but knowing where you want it will all make a difference.
7) Old subs, new tricks
Don’t throw out the old in pursuit of the new just yet. If your old speakers or system still has a bit of life left in it, but you’re looking for a little extra action on the side, purchase an additional wireless link receiver or a wireless ready amp. This allows you to keep up with the kids all the while retaining the old warm sound you still adore.
8) Baby Steps
Due to the fact that you can set up different zones – which can connect to one another as and when you like – there is no need to go out and buy everything in one go. A wireless system is a system that can grow with you and at any stage you can get more pieces to become part of the whole.
9) DIY, because even you can
Do you need to be a rocket scientist to set it up? No. Thanks to easy to follow guides and some systems even having setup apps you will be guided step-by-step on your phone and will have everything ready to go quicker than you can say IKEA.
10) The future?
Is wireless sound as good as wired sound? Depends on what you mean and who you ask. Audio cable wise? Some say wired is still the way to go – gold tipped and all - but in all honesty, you may only truly hear the difference if you’re fanatical or rich enough to own a Steinway Lyngdorf system. For the versatility that a wireless system offers, for the price points available, you can’t do better. App vs CD? Who cares? It all sounds better on vinyl anyway, but that is a discussion for different top 10.