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Play what you want where you want

Wireless technology is a hot topic but is it really as complicated and difficult as we’re led to believe?

We look at what it is and how it works...

With current advances meaning more accessible and affordable wireless entertainment options for the home, Life Begins looks to demystify the subject and show how ‘WiFi’ can benefit you with only a small amount of ‘techno’ knowledge required.

What is it? Much like a radio signal transmitting from station to household, WiFi allows you to beam music and other media inside your home. This means with a speaker in your bedroom you could listen to any of the songs from the central music collection in your lounge. With more speakers, you could have different tracks playing in different rooms or the same audio throughout with no untidy wiring.

“I’ve always fancied listening to my ABBA collection in the garden” Excellent, us too. As long as you’ve got an ABBA album in your collection and wireless speaker in the garden this is no problem (as long as it’s not raining!).

“My partner hates ABBA. Can he/she listen to something else at the same time?” How can someone hate ABBA? Strange, but yes of course. He or she may access any other track from your collection at the same time, provided they are in a different location in the house.

“I’m having a dinner party and would like to change rooms without changing CD. Is this possible?” Absolutely, two or more rooms can play the same track at once. You could even place a speaker in your garden if the party spills outdoors.

“I wouldn’t want to upset the neighbours.” What, by playing ABBA? Don’t worry, (almost) everyone likes ABBA but if it’s the volume you’re worried about, different locations can have different volumes, like a normal stereo in each place. One room may be very quiet, and another disco loud.

20 Life Begins

How does it work? Wireless music works by having all of your music based in one location, your ‘Music Library’. This could be on your mp3 player, iPod, desktop computer or any device with a hard drive. This library then needs to communicate with other wireless products in the home. Many gadgets like iPods and laptops already come equipped with ‘WiFi’ connectivity and are built with exactly this in mind. If not, it is still possible to connect a device to wireless using a router. Any good audio-visual or computer specialist can help with this.

Can I set this up myself? If you have wireless broadband and an mp3 player, nothing here will seem too alien to you. WiFi is becoming easier and easier to set up and use. If you are a relative stranger to the concepts in this article, you can still get the most from a system like this after a little help getting started. There are plenty of good inde- pendent companies locally who will be happy to offer free advice.

Break Free and get those household chores done! Pick your best power ballads and have them playing all over the house. Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’ could really help out with the hoovering.

Picture: The family of Sonos featured here can work with many wireless devides and even phones

by Gareth Wilson

What is available? Assuming you’re equipped with your music library and wireless signal ready to go, you will need the right bits to play your favourite tunes. The familiar big brands in audio technology are all beginning to incorporate wireless into their systems. Many stand-alone speakers are designed solely for this purpose. The Sony SANAS 400 for example, comes with ‘party button’ built-in volume control.

It is also not unusual to come across two versions of a stereo - with WiFi capability and without. It is important to check whether this is compatible with other devices in the home. The SONY CMT G2 is a high quality stereo that can also link with other Sony devices but would be unlikely to link up to a Panasonic device.

Sonos are currently the leading brand in terms of versatility and affordability. Whilst they have been manufacturing audio equipment for many years, recent innovations have raised their profile. They recently won ‘What Hifi?’ Award for Wireless 2011.

With Sonos it is possible to add one speaker at a time to your home and they will network together with relative ease. The Play 3 and Play 5 speakers are both pretty nifty and offer their own individual options, for example the Play 3 can be placed vertically to help fill that small hole in the bookcase whereas the bigger Play 5 offers a more sophisticated speaker system. Both systems offer excellent sound quality.

This brand also allows you to link up existing pieces of equipment in your home. You could for example, link your TV surround system to your music library with a wireless ‘Connect’.

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