Intellegg Moxivo: Multiroom Audio on a Shoestring

Build Quality
Price $40

At A Glance
Stupidly simply setup
Multiroom music on a shoestring

Doesn’t work with landline, DSL, or Internet phone service
Limited by the number and location of phone jacks in the house
Subject to the vagaries of existing wires running through the walls
A less-than-hi-fi solution

The Verdict
Moxivo provides a low-tech, down-and-dirty way to shuttle music through dormant phone lines, but don’t expect audiophile quality.

In “A New Use for Old Wires” we described Intellegg’s Moxivo multiroom music kit, which is nothing more than a set of inexpensive cables that lets cord cutters use dormant phone lines to spread music around the house. It sounds great in theory but I was curious to see how well the “system” actually works, so I sought out a cord cutting household (I have Internet phone service at home, which is a no-no). As a new homeowner, my twenty-something son has no intention of signing up for traditional phone service, so his 18-year-old two-story home offered a perfect environment for the test.

The Moxivo kit includes six cables, each with a standard RJ-11 phone connector on one end and one of three common audio jacks on the other end (two 3.5mm miniplugs, two female miniplug adapters, and two with RCA plugs). Unlike my 44-year-old colonial, which has a phone jack in every room except the bathrooms and dining room, the test home has connectors only in the kitchen, master bedroom, and an upstairs sitting room, which limited system utility right off the bat.

Starting in the master bedroom, I jacked one of the RCA-equipped cables into the auxiliary input of a compact music system and snapped the RJ-11 into the tiny connector module on the wall. Downstairs I plugged one end of a minijack cable into my iPod nano’s headphone output and the other into the unused phone jack in the kitchen. As instructed, I turned the volume up all the way to “prevent white noise on the line” and hit the play button.

The loud hum competing with the music was an immediate reminder that I needed to disconnect the phones lines coming into the house—even though there was no active service—to “ensure that signals from the phone utility don’t interfere with your music or damage your equipment.” Oops. (In truth, I was just curious to see what would happen...) So I trekked outside with a screwdriver, opened the small utility box mounted on the side of the house and loosened screws in the terminal strip to disconnect the four skinny wires running into the box.

Disconnecting the service wires lowered the hum substantially but didn’t get rid of it. A low-level hummmmmm was audible on acoustic music like Sara McLachlan’s “Angel” but only when I got close to the speakers. Overall sound quality was good and about what I’d expect given the MP3 source material and small speakers. Heavier rock tunes like Paramore’s “Here We Go Again” effectively masked the noise. I also set up a system in the upstairs sitting room and the results were similar, although the hum was a bit less pronounced. Not bad. With music playing in both rooms the stage was set for a quasi house party—“quasi” because Moxivo was only able to rock the free world in two rooms.

Take 2
I decided to give the system a go at my house, which involved disconnecting the lines running into the outside phone box as well as the lines running to the Comcast-provided Arris modem that powers my Internet phone service. (I gave it a whirl before disconnecting both sets of wires and my haste was rewarded with a loud buzz.) With all of the wires disconnected, I tried several configurations. The results were mixed and not terribly useful.

Using the nano as a kitchen source to drive a compact music system in the master bedroom provided good sound quality but with a substantial loss in volume—about half of the level I got with a direct connection. When I connected a set of high-quality powered bookshelf speakers to the phone jack in my nearby family room, the volume seemed fine but the presentation was marred by a distracting buzz in one channel. I got the same results when I moved the speakers to my basement home office and plugged the nano into the phone jack in my living room.

In the final analysis, the setup produced decent results at my son’s house but didn’t provide a useful benefit in my home. The documentation Intellegg provides is sparse so it’s possible that I did not properly (or fully) disconnect the wires from my rat’s next of a phone box. Either way, Intellegg’s Moxivo system is a dead cheap, no-frills way to shuttle music to areas of your home where there are phone jacks. But due to the vagaries of existing phone wiring you won’t really know how well the system is going to work until you give it a try. At just 40 bucks for the kit, it won’t be an expensive experiment.