Wireless Audio from your Computer
By Mike Hopkins: Aperion Product Manager
With the constant progression of digital media over the past 5 to 10 years, especially with music, there usually comes a time in your life where you are forced, one way or another, to make drastic changes in how you listen to music. The idea of wirelessly sending music from your computer or laptop to your home stereo system really becomes appealing when you start to realize one or all of these 3 things apply to you: 1. You don’t really buy many CDs anymore; instead you buy the digital copy (iTunes or Amazon) or listen to internet radio (Pandora or Slacker). 2. You have boxes of CDs that you have also ripped to your computer and if you do listen to the actual CD, it’s usually in your car. 3. Now that all of your music is organized and accessible on your computer, it would sound a heck of a lot better if you could listen to it on your home stereo system.
The question becomes, “How do you get music wirelessly from your computer to your home stereo?” The thing is, there isn’t one simple solution, in fact, there are many great wireless music solutions depending on what you want, how you listen and, of course, how much you are willing to spend to get it.
Scenario 1:All of your music is on your laptop and you want to play that on your Aperion home theater system.
Solution:The Aperion Zona Home Audio Link™ (Had to put this one first!)
The Aperion HAL system is an easy and inexpensive way to stream any music from your laptop or computer to almost any audio system in your home. Simply plug the USB from the HAL Send unit into your computer and connect a HAL Receive unit to your AVR just like it was an audio component. Once the two units are linked up anything that you play on your computer will automatically be streamed to your home stereo system. With the HAL system you can also add up to 3 HAL Receive units if you want to stream your computer music to more than one system or room in your home. Cost: $149 for the Aperion HAL Send/Receive pair and $70 for each additional HAL Receive Unit.
Downside: All audio control is done through your computer.
Scenario 2: All of your music is on your desktop or laptop and you want to play it on your home stereo system and other rooms plus be able to control what music plays in each zone via remote.
Solution: Sonos Multi-Room Music System
A Sonos system is a great way to stream music wirelessly to multiple rooms while still having the full control of all of your music via touch screen remote. A Sonos system consists of “Zone Players” (ZP120) which are essentially wireless 2 channel amplifiers. You can add “Zone Players” to different rooms and just connect your speakers. Additionally, you can purchase a “ZP90” which is a wireless zone receiver/sender which you can connect to your existing stereo system. The interface is great and the system has received numerous awards. As a bonus you can download a free App to turn your iPhone into a wireless remote to control the entire system.
Downside: Expensive. Prices start at $999 for 2 Zone Players (one ZP120, One ZP90) and a touch screen remote.
Logitech Squeezebox Duet is another system that is very similar to the Sonos system; however, they do not offer amplified zones. The Squeezebox Duet is a great system if you already have the existing stereo or powered speakers. Prices start at $379 for one zone and a controller, $129 for additional zones.
Scenario 3:I have all of my music on iTunes and I want to listen to it on my home stereo system.
Solution: Apple Airport Express and Air Tunes
If you have all of your music in iTunes, this is a simple and easy solution to stream music over your network from your computer to your existing home stereo system. Each Airport Express plugs into the wall and has a USB, Ethernet and Stereo mini plug output. Not only does each Airport Express unit stream music, but you can use it for networking printers and other computers. Prices start at $99 for a single zone.
Downside: Only works with iTunes.
Scenario 4 – Honorable Mention:I have all of my music on my computer and I want to listen to it wirelessly on my home theater system.
Solution: PS3 or Xbox 360
These two gaming systems can also be used as fully functioning media players. The PS3 has built-in wireless and the Xbox 360 has a wireless adapter for $79. Through the menu system of the game console you can link to your computers media, including music, picture and videos. Both consoles also have internet radio access through either an internet browser on the PS3 or via LastFM application on the Xbox360. If you or your kids have one of the above systems you are just a few steps away from accessing your music on your home theater system.
Downside: Unlike the other solutions using the PS3 or Xbox360 takes some patience to get the music playing. AVR, TV and navigating through the console menus are needed to access the goodies.