Image: Hugh THrelfall
October 01 2011
I’ve been thinking a lot over the summer about multiroom hi-fi setups. I’ve been asking myself, “What do most of us really want from multiroom?” A very small minority, I suspect, want their house hardwired for sound and vision, with a massive server hidden away with a million music tracks and a thousand films available in every room. And very nice that is, too. A larger group of us want something that doesn’t involve wiring in the walls but is of a permanent nature, with fixed devices around the house to listen to sound from a central source; the Sonos wireless system is popular for this, as are more expensive setups such as Meridian’s Sooloos.
But what suits me best – and I just have this inkling that it’s most likely to be your bag, too – is an ad hoc sort of thing, a pro tem arrangement you can fire up where and when you want to, and that’s wireless and doesn’t involve installers or mammoth instruction manuals. So you suddenly get an urge to listen to the music on your computer on your home hi-fi, or to the music on your home hi-fi on the patio or in the attic.
There are many ways of killing this cat, and they all have drawbacks or are, like Apple’s AirPlay thing, tricky to get your head round and specific to one manufacturer’s proprietary equipment or software.
This brilliant little pair of dongles from Sweden cuts through the confusion and connects pretty much anything to anything else in top-class CD quality, without the need for downloads or anything more than a few seconds’ attention. It works with total simplicity for PCs and Macs, and will also connect your hi-fi to another audio, or to wireless speakers, without a computer being involved. You can buy as many receiver and transmitter dongles as you like and even use three audio links simultaneously, as it has three different channels.
The Audio Pro WF100 is worth reading up on and seriously thinking about. It’s not glamorous or especially aesthetic, and is neither cheap nor expensive. But it’s simple, faultless in use and I’ll wager that you’ll enjoy it as much, or more, than vastly more complicated “solutions”.