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How do I Choose the Best Wireless Audio Receivers?

John Lister
John Lister

Mentions of wireless audio receivers can refer either to a device or to a speaker system. With a device, the most important tips are to check software compatibility and potential frequency clashes. With a speaker system, the main goal is to reduce the need for audio cabling without this benefit being outweighed by the need for power cabling.

The first step in buying wireless audio receivers is to make sure you understand whether you are actually looking for a receiver, or merely adding wireless speakers to a home theater system. In the latter case, this involves replacing some or all of the surround speakers with speakers that connect to the main receiver unit wireless. To work effectively, surround speakers of this type usually require mains power. This means that the option does not remove the need for cabling, but rather gives more flexibility for where these cables go. As a result, the most common wireless option with home cinema is to have the two rear surround speakers receive the audio signal wirelessly, while receiving power from a nearby outlet.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

For uses outside of home cinema, wireless audio receivers are usually used in a setup where the speaker is in a separate room to the source of the audio. This will most commonly be where the audio source is entirely digital, such as music files stored on a computer, rather than physical media. The wireless audio receiver will often have speakers built in, though it can connect to separate speakers or even to a hi-fi system.

It may be worth looking for a system that is compatible with the Digital Living Network Alliance standard. This standard covers both the software on a computer that is the source of the music, and the hardware that receives and plays the media file, such as a wireless audio receiver. Although DLNA compatibility at both ends does not guarantee everything will run without a hitch, it should make the set-up process much quicker.

Users also need to check the broadcast and reception frequency of wireless audio receivers. Those at 900 MHz or 2.4GHz are powerful, but may cause interference with wireless network connections such as home Internet sharing, or cordless telephones. If this is the case, either the receiver, the music source, or other cordless devices may allow you to change the broadcast channel, reducing the risk of interference. Using the 5.2 GHz frequency may reduce this risk further, but also reduces the distance over which the signal can be carried without fading too much.

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Discussion Comments


I bought a wireless digital audio receiver for my home last year and I am loving it. I have so many devices with audio and I can sink them all up to my receiver so I can basically have stereo quality sound in any room of my house with out having to change a record or tune a radio dial. I am listening to so much more music than I used to, just because it is so easy.


Be sure to check out the range on any wireless sound system before you buy it. Sometimes the range is a lot shorter than you would expect. You might spend a bunch of money on a new system only to find out that it cannot do everything you want it to do.

If you go to a real audio store and not one of the big box electronics stores they will work with you one on one to find the system that best meets your needs. Audio equipment is expensive and complicated and I find that this kind of personal, one on one service to be really helpful.

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