Wireless Whole-House Audio

I need a recommendation for wireless speakers. My in-laws have four sets of speakers throughout the house controlled with a hard-wired switch box, but the system crackles and pops so badly that they have stopped listening to music. In lieu of crawling under the house to rewire, I want to know if wireless speakers are a viable option. I was hoping that something like a wireless Bose Cube speaker system existed? We don't mind spending a bit on an initial set or two.

Greg Shaw

Wireless audio is indeed a viable option for you. Generally speaking, you connect an RF (radio-frequency) transmitter to the line output of the main music system and an RF receiver to the remote system, which must include a power amp for its speakers. Alternatively, the speakers can house their own individual RF receivers and power amps, in which case they'll have to be plugged into an AC wall outlet themselves as shown above.

Most such wireless-audio systems can include several RF receivers for multiple pairs of speakers, though they all have a limited operational range that depends on several factors, such as how many walls are between the transmitter and receiver. In addition, most such systems can also send audio from a computer by connecting the transmitter via USB.

In most cases, whole-house wireless-audio systems do not include speakers, which must be bought separately. Bose does make such a system that consists of a transmitter and receiver for $400; up to six more receivers can be added for $150 each. However, as far as I can tell, it's compatible only with the Bose Lifestyle system.

The WA-50 from Atlantic Technology includes an RF transmitter and receiver for $200, and extra receivers are $90 each. Up to three transmitters can be used to send independent signals to different zones, and each transmitter can send to multiple receivers.

Aperion makes a similar system called Home Audio Link (HAL), with a transmitter and receiver for $150; extra receivers are $55. However, according to Aperion's website, the HAL system is currently unavailable until HAL 2 is introduced in August.

Also from Aperion is the Zona wireless speaker system (pictured above), which includes an RF transmitter and two speakers, each with built-in a receiver and power amp, for $500. The Zonas are intended as surround speakers, but I'm sure they would do fine in your application.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askscottwilkinson@gmail.com.

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uavCJLA's picture

Hey Greg, are you sure the wire is bad? I'm just thinking that sometimes crackles come from bad speakers, or worn out contacts (I don't know if your switch box has a volume control as well for each room, but these can get pretty bad with age). Anyway, you may want to do a quick test, by bringing over a pair of speakers that you know are good, and hook them up to the wire in each room, then at the a/v area remove the wire from the switching box and connect it directly to the receiver to test. If it sounds good, then you may not need a wireless system, you would only have to replace the switch box and/or speakers. If however you find out that the wire is bad, perhaps you could use the existing wire as a pull-string to pull new wire into the rooms... Just want to make sure that you have exhausted all possibilities before going down a new road. One last thing, are they tech savvy? If so, what about an Apple airport express, or a Sonos system?

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