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B&O Adds Wireless Multiroom Audio

5/22/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has begun marketing a wireless version of its wired BeoLink multiroom-audio system to reduce installation time for custom installers and for any do-it-yourselfers among its high-end target customers.

BeoLink Wireless 1 uses 2.4GHz digital spread spectrum technology to deliver music in uncompressed PCM format to freestanding B&O active speakers systems in multiple rooms from a B&O music system. The system also lets consumers use existing B&O IR remotes in remote rooms to control the source components in the central B&O system.

The BeoLink Wireless 1 system, available this month, requires the use of at least two $450 transmitter/receivers to distribute music. One must be set to receive music, the other to send it. Each can be placed on the floor or shelf or mounted on the wall, then plugged into a 110-volt outlet. Each transmitter/receiver measures 11 inches by 4.8 inches by 2 inches and tapers to an inch in depth.

In the main listening room, the transmitter connects to a B&O music system via a proprietary Master Link cable. In the remote room, preamp-level cables run from the wireless receiver to the freestanding powered speakers. The cables are small enough to run underneath a room's baseboard, said product manager Dave Zapfel.

To control a source remotely, B&O offers a $50 wall-mount IR eye, which connects via cable to the remote room's wireless receiver. The remote wireless receiver then converts the IR commands into a 2.4GHz RF signal, which is sent back to the main B&O system and reconverted to IR.

A single wireless transmitter can deliver a single source simultaneously to up to seven speaker pairs, each connected to seven different receivers. Up to three transmitters can be used to deliver music to up to 21 pairs of speakers. In either scenario, only one to two sources from the central B&O system can play at a time.

The new BeoSound 4 and BeoCenter 2 systems, for example, allow for two sources to play back at a time: one source plays in the main room and the second source streams to the remote rooms, Zapfel said. The two sources that these systems can play simultaneously include the systems' CD and radio, a source connected to the systems via their aux input and a BeoMedia 1 HDD storage device connected to the systems via a proprietary Master Link cable. BeoMedia 1 stores music, short video clips and digital images and allows access to thousands of internet radio stations and Web pages for browsing.

Any source connected to a B&O system's aux input can be streamed wirelessly, and its volume and tracks selected remotely. The connected source cannot be turned on/off remotely, the company added.

An SD memory card inserted in the BeoSound 4 can also be one of two sources played back simultaneously.

Wireless 1's indoor range is up to 100 feet, and outdoor range is up to 330 feet. The system eliminates the wired audio cable used in the company's wired BeoLink multiroom solution, available since the 1980s.

Zapfel expects the system to appeal to multiple types of B&O customers, including people who want second-room audio in an apartment but aren't allowed to run wires through walls. As part of a custom-installed wired multiroom audio system, installers could use the wireless option to reach rooms with masonry walls through which wires are difficult to snake, Zapfel noted. The system could also be used to send audio to a pool house.

Wireless 1 operates in the 2.4GHz band, but the company called its technology “very robust against interference from other devices” operating in the 2.4GHz band. It also offers zero delay to eliminate the echo effect that occurs when the arrival times between adjacent rooms are milliseconds off, Zapfel said.

“BeoLink Wireless 1 is a solution that appeals strongly to those who do not wish to drill holes for cabling between rooms and who do not wish to compromise on the quality of the audio experience,” the company added. “We expect this new product to appeal not only to many existing customers, but to help new customers appreciate the unprecedented transmission quality of our Link room solutions, expanding on our BeoLink concept.”

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