What are the Different Types of Wireless Audio Systems?

Dave Slovak

Many people have upgraded their home theater and audio components by installing wireless audio systems. These systems are convenient, easy to install, and offer the same quality that a wired audio system produces while also providing greater flexibility for speaker placement and installation. When wireless audio systems were first introduced, the options were expensive and far inferior to their wired counterparts, but as wireless technology has advanced, wireless audio has become a more cost-effective and high-quality option. The different types of wireless audio systems are based on the different types of audio devices used to store and play the music, including network-based computers, mp3 players, phones, and other portable devices that use Bluetooth® technology or Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity).

Bluetooth refers to short-range wireless connections between devices.
Bluetooth refers to short-range wireless connections between devices.

One type of wireless audio system setup, in which an individual uses his or her LAN (Local Area Network) to distribute the data to various devices is only partially wireless. Many people set up their computers and other peripherals, such as a printer, to access the LAN. It is possible, however, to include a wireless router or wireless access point for transmitting data and information, including music, to a wireless-capable audio system. This allows the individual to store the music on a computer or home network but then play the music on a device other than the computer, using the wireless setup.

An MP3 player is a type of wireless audio system that stores and plays digital music files.
An MP3 player is a type of wireless audio system that stores and plays digital music files.

Another of the wireless audio systems involves the use of smaller electronic devices such as a portable mp3 players or cellular phones and Bluetooth® technology. Bluetooth® is a type of wireless capability that allows various devices to interact and transfer data back and forth. People can purchase Bluetooth®-capable audio systems that will connect to the mp3 player or cellular phone and play the music stored on those devices.

One drawback to Bluetooth® is that it is meant for devices that are in close proximity to each other, so using this set-up for a multi-room audio system could be difficult and unreliable. Many manufacturers, however, produce small, inexpensive Bluetooth® audio systems, making them an affordable and very portable option for people who travel often or who have smaller living spaces.

The most common type of wireless audio system involves the use of Wi-Fi technology. This is the same technology that is used for wireless computer network set-ups, and manufacturers provide several Wi-Fi audio system options that are both robust and affordable. For instance, some higher-end systems allow home owners to link multiple speaker systems to one central Wi-Fi music device. This device does not store any of the music files, but instead works as a hub that controls one of the many devices attached to the wireless network and sends the information to one or more of the speaker systems in different parts of a home or office.

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