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What Is a USB Wireless Audio Adapter?

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  • Written By: M. McGee
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The universal serial bus (USB) connection is one of the most common connection formats on computers today. A USB wireless audio system uses this common connector to send audio information from one device to another without a connecting wire. This technology simplifies setup, but it also reduces the wire-ball that often forms behind computers and home entertainment systems. The devices are generally easy to set up. They have a broadcast system that plugs into a USB port or audio cable and a receiver that plugs into an audio device through any number of different interfaces.

A USB wireless audio system is a device that utilizes many technologies that are common in today’s electronics. USB ports are used as a direct interface on computers, MP3 players and even cell phones. The wireless standards used by these devices are generally the same ones used by cordless telephones or wireless networks, although a USB wireless audio transmitter has much more specific sound quality specifications. Lastly, the devices are powered directly from a computer system or from a standard wall plug.

The actual setup of a USB wireless audio system varies from model to model, but most of them have two parts that communicate directly with one another. This communication is usually hierarchical; one primarily sends and the other receives, but some systems use two interchangeable transmitters. The sender is connected to an audio source such as a television or computer, and the receiver is connected to an output such as speakers or headphones.

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The actual connection methods used by a USB wireless audio system are what make them so unique. Most of the transmitters used in these devices have a USB connector on one side and a simple audio jack on the other. The audio jack is common enough that it is easy to find cables with an audio plug on one end and nearly any form of audio connector on the other. The most common connectors for the other end of the cable are white and red Radio Corporation of America (RCA) plugs.

Since the devices use standard audio plugs, they are compatible with most standard systems. This allows the transmitter to plug into nearly anything that transmits sound and uses external speakers. This also applies to devices like MP3 players that usually output directly to headphones. The receiver will plug directly into some types of speakers or into anything that transmits sound from a television to a radio.

Most of the time, these devices are designed for home use. They will lose sound quality in congested signal areas and when transmitting through walls. In general, they require that the two halves of the device be within 30 feet (10 meters) of each other and within the same room.

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