Re(al)view: Audioengine W1 Wireless Stereo Adapter

Re(al)view: Audioengine W1 Wireless Stereo Adapter

Anthony Nguyen
Aug 24, 2009

Last week, we wrote about Audioengine's W1 wireless audio streaming solution. Boasting a software-less install, intuitive plug-n-play interface, and CD-quality sound up to 100 feet, we were more than just a little excited to test the little guy out when Audioengine decided to send a unit in our direction. So, is this the do-all wireless music solution we've all been waiting for or just another product that falls shorts on its claims? Our full review, after the jump.

OUR SETUP:

  • AUDIO SOURCE
  • Vista Ultimate PC
  • On-board USB (Audio-out)
  • Lossless MP3's

  • SECONDARY AUDIO SOURCE
  • Macbook Pro 15"
  • On-board USB (Audio-out)
  • Lossless MP3's

  • AUDIO RECEIVER
  • Onkyo TX-SR576 7.1 Receiver (Audio-in)
  • Velodyne SPL-1200R Subwoofer
  • Pinnacle BD1000 (Pair)

OUR THOUGHTS:
The unit itself comes with pretty much everything you need, given you're not trying to set up wireless surround sound powered speakers with a receiver. In the box, you get the send/receiver adapters, a USB AC power adapter (similar to the iPhone provided one), 1 RCA Adapter "Y" cable, and 2 Mini-jack (3.5mm) cables.

It took us less than 5 minutes to get everything plugged in. We simply plugged in the "Sender" adapter to our Vista PC and "Receiver" adapter (with Y-cable) to our A/V home theater receiver. Holding the "sync" button for 5-seconds and the other side for 1 second, we immediately got the two units to talk and were ready for happy listening.

We knew these wireless stereo solutions have a tendency to cut out the low notes, so we threw on some Brother Ali and Andre 3000 for some heavy bass testing. Definitely no cut-off there. For the mid-ranges, we used silky smooth Sade and Diana Krall. The sound? Nothing but exceptional. There were also no hums, pops, or any strange artifacts during our listening test - just pure audio bliss.

Excited, we instinctively grabbed our Macbook Pro for some portability testing. Running across our small bungalow rental, we were able to stream continuous CD-quality sound while sitting in the backyard with no cut-outs or degradation of quality whatsoever. If set up in reverse, we could easily see having an outdoor music system for guests during BBQ's or patio gatherings.

Now the slightly bad news. Because we're admittedly heavy abusers of the 2.4Ghz frequency, we felt the sharp impact of the Audioengine W1's on our wireless internet connection immediately upon synchronization of the two receivers, dropping our 8 mbps connection to a measly 300 kbps. Strangely enough, this issue slowly stabilizes itself over a short amount of time and after a few minutes, we don't notice it at all.

The closest tech comparison would be against Apple's Airport Express, priced at $99, which includes a router/repeater for those who need it. But the AE's streaming audio is solely restricted to AirTunes, whereas the W1 allows anything 3.5mm mini-Jack to feed into your main stereo system using no software at all. This alone makes the $149 price tag more than worth it.

By allowing open options for the consumer to have the freedom exploration and a streamlined solution that delivers, we have no reservations on recommending the Audioengine W1 stereo wireless adapter for those curious to finding new and unique ways to improve their digital lifestyle. Unplggd dig worthy? You betcha.

You can purchase the Audioengine W1 audio streaming kit for $149.

Created with Sketch.