So how do we put it all together? I've cooked up a few examples, all coming in shy of the $700 price point, to demonstrate what's possible.
AudioEngine A5+ or Emotiva Pro airmotiv4: $399 ($469 for the awesome A5+ Bamboo version)
AudioEngine D1 DAC: $169
Paradigm Shift A2: $560
Apple AirPort Express: $99
Polk TL3 satellites: $300
Denon AVR-1312: $250
Apple TV: $99
The idea behind the systems mentioned here is that you don’t need an iPod for them to work. iTunes, of course, but that’s free. Adding an iPod touch to the mix (or an iPhone or iPad, if you’re so inclined), gives you access to Apple’s Remote app. This free app lets you control iTunes from your iDevice, view album art, and access to your entire library and playlists. If you’re a music junkie like me, this app is amazing.
It’s rather amusing, and a very “I live in the future” feeling, selecting a song on the iPod touch, the file of which actually resides a computer on the other side of my house. That computer plays said song from iTunes by sending it via Cat5 to my router, which broadcasts it wirelessly to my Apple TV, playing it back via speakers in another room entirely. This all happens near-as-no-matter instantly. Love it.
Chances are, you’ve got an old laptop laying around somewhere. As long as it’s able to run iTunes, it can act as a streamer too. You can access the libraries of other computers in your house as long as they’re also running iTunes and you’re logged into the same iTunes account. Not the simplest solution, unless you plan on leaving it on all the time (not advisable). In a pinch, though, it will work. This method also allows the use of a USB DAC, which are available at a wide range of prices, and many sound really good.
Someone looking for absolute simplicity, or someone who has no idea that better sound quality exists, will be perfectly content with a typical iPod iDoohicky. I’m guessing if that were you, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
For us, we want the functionality without sacrificing sound quality. By no means is the above an absolute list, but it does represent many excellent options to add wireless streaming and decent sound into a second room.
Have some ideas of your own? Share them below.
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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