Audio Pro WF100 wireless streamer
Dongle up your hi-fi
Geek Treat of the Week Anyone who’s tried wireless tech over the years knows how tricky and expensive it can be to get superior sounding audio around the home without wires. Step forth Swedish hi-fi brand Audio Pro, that has come up with a user friendly package that gives you a wireless transmitter/receiver duo.
Plug 'n' Play: Audio Pro's WF100
In this era of compressed MP3, these devices aim pleasingly high with delivering lossless CD quality sound. The transmitter can be attached to any audio device with a line out – not just the obvious computer to hi-fi option. Accordingly, the wireless receiver unit picks up the audio and attaches to any suitable hi-fi or active speakers.
It’s a quick and flexible way to share computer-based audio on a music system without complex UPnP/DLNA set-ups or buying new audio products with built-in wireless reception. There are numerous other uses, such as linking it to the line output of a DAB radio to effectively upgrade a non-DAB hi-fi elsewhere.
Both transmitter and receiver are USB-powered. If the transmitter is connected to a computer it gets its required 5V from the USB port. For Windows or Mac it’s a plug-and-play set-up. There’s no software required and the transmitter appears as a USB headset, selected in the audio control panel. Be aware that it picks up any computer sounds at the time, including e-mail notifications and Skype, if you haven’t quit those applications.
The pack includes one USB mains plug. You’ll probably need this at the receiving end, although some AV amplifiers run power to a built-in USB port regardless of the input being heard. If you need a power plug for the sender, practically any USB adapter will do, which you can pick up for less than a fiver.
The system uses a proprietary 2.4GHz network. In contrast to many wireless audio streamers, it doesn’t share bandwidth with your Wi-Fi network. If it encounters interference it automatically switches RF channels. You can add as many receivers as you like (at £85 a time) or add up to two more transmitters (again for £85 each) and allocate every one its own ‘House Code’ so that a building can support up to three separate networks.
Next page: Signal path
As anyone working with audio on computers would have noticed, adding a new audio device to the mix does not mean that it automatically picks up everything.
As an example, designating your onboard audio device for communication (win7) means that any blurbs created by skype et al. do NOT go to your Hi-Fi setup over the air at all.
What's more - if your favorite music app packs any grit, it will let you select the audio device you want it to use, instead of going for default.
If you were interested in connecting to your hi-fi, you should have turned off any and all system sounds anyway.
Why does the author say it sounds better then the £39 Maplin job ? Did El Reg do a double bind test, or could it be something to do with the £150 price tag ?
Makes squeezebox look good
Brilliant, this makes the squeezebox touch I've just bought look even better value for money. Squeezebox plugs straight into my aged amp, and it also works with HD music rather than just 44.1kHz. Hate the idea that this will also pick up every other sound a computer makes.
Does it have optical out?
Sounds useful. But given that a lot of modern equipment has optical in, it would seem a bit daft to be restricted to analogue only.
The optical out on an Airport Express is really handy for feeding in to a "proper" DAC (mostly because the onboard DAC one is pretty poor).
Also (probably not of major importance), is the audio stream encrypted at all or is it broadcast in the clear? I hope they're using something a bit more robust than the "wireless webcam" 2.4GHz which lets you snoop on your neighbours with ease...
if they supported DLNA, I'd buy one
DLNA setup really is not complex, give me a break...
These are expensive, they only stream audio in one direction, so they are useless for a headset with mic for musicians, and they can't even inter operate with smartphones and other DLNA devices?
They're basically like a $150 one-way cable that needs 5V power on both ends.
I wonder what their range is, did I miss that in the review..?