Roaming the seemingly endless maze of suites of audio gear at CES inside the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas was a challenge, but I managed to uncover a few enticing audiophile speakers (like the Dynaudio Xeo 5 above), sound docks, and even a DAC that eliminate audio cables. These devices use AirPlay, Bluetooth, or in some cases a proprietary network with even greater control of audio fidelity. Here are 4 wireless audio devices that will get your music into more rooms without the cable clutter straight from the show to your screen...
First up is the retro looking Klipsch KMC 3 Wireless music system. This speaker bar boasts a powerful amp and 2 wireless streaming methods. You get standard Bluetooth for connecting smartphones, but they also include aptX which works with Bluetooth to provide CD quality streaming. To top it off, the Klipsch KMC 3 also takes batteries for true portability. Sources tell me this wireless speaker dock will be available in the Spring of 2013.
The Woodbourne ($599.00) from audio brand Polk will be available later this year and truly captures what I would call modern elegance in a sound dock. A mahogany veneer top combined with a soft white grill material made this speaker system inviting and warm. Using AirPlay, Bluetooth, and aptX to wirelessly transmit music gives this dock versatility not seen in other designs. Most importantly though was the configuration of speakers which bend around the left and right sides. This curved front baffle allowed me to better discern left, right, and center sound sources from recordings.
Danish speaker designer Dynaudio is a name often found in music studios, but they also produce a full line of audiophile speakers for music lovers. The Xeo 3 and 5 speakers incorporate Dynaudio's proprietary wireless streaming network that provides better than CD-quality streaming. At $2,150.00 for the pair of Xeo 3 speakers and $350.00 for the transmitter these are a bit expensive, but provide the best stereo image of all the wireless speakers I heard at CES.
For fuller bass extension the Xeo 5 is also an option since it still maintains a small footprint. You won't find bluetooth here only a specific 2.4 Ghz network developed in-house at Dynaudio for audiophile sound direct to their powered speakers. To use the transmitter, one simply needs to plug in a digital or analog source, and then the transmitter sends it wirelessly to the self-powered speakers (Xeo 3 or 5).
Last up, and available later this spring is the Arcam airDAC (price TBD). This wifi enabled AirPlay device will receive wireless audio signals and convert them to analog RCA outputs for your stereo receiver. This is a great solution if you just need to allow various iOS devices entry into your stereo. It even sports a digital audio input for hardwiring other music sources.
Recognizing the need for wireless fidelity has sparked a push for smart audiophile gear that integrates into our digital lifestyle. It's quite refreshing to see hi-fi companies creating products that comunicate to a new generation of music lovers.
(Images: Vahan Baladouni; linked to manufacturers above)