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CD-Quality Wireless Dongles Launched

3/24/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Powered-speaker supplier Audioengine launched a $149-suggested wireless sender/receiver system that lets users transmit music from PCs, iPods, other-brand MP3 players, and other audio sources to powered speakers or audio systems up to 100 feet away.

The W1 Premium Wireless Adapter package can also be used in a home theater to send audio wirelessly to surround speakers or a subwoofer.

The system uses wireless technology supplied by Avnera to deliver uncompressed music in 48kHz/16-bit PCM form over 2.4GHz spectrum with “no audible or perceived interference” because the technology was designed from the ground up for audio, Avnera claims. Other companies have adopted the technology for use in a universal wireless kit for home theater surround speakers, in headphones, and in a wireless USB Internet phone.

Audioengine's package consists of a transmitter and receiver, each about the size of a pack of gum. Because they are USB dongles, the transmitter gets power through the USB port of a PC or other USB-connected source, and the receiver gets power through the USB port if connected to a USB-equipped audio system. The transmitter and receiver also come with USB AC power adapter to get power when connected to devices that lack a USB port.

The transmitter sends USB audio when connected to a PC's USB port or, in the future, to an iPod's multipin connector via a cable adapter that Audioengine plans to develop. The transmitter, however, also comes with a minijack input to tap audio from a source's analog minijack output, including the headphone output of iPods, other-brand MP3 players, headphone CD players, minisystems, and the like. For its part, the wireless receiver delivers audio via its own minijack output to a connected audio system. The connection to an audio system can be made with supplied minijack cables or with a supplied minijack-to-RCA cable.

The company also offers powered speakers suited for the W1 package. They are the $349/pair A5 bookshelf speaker pair and $199/pair A2 desktop speaker pair. The left speaker in both pairs feature USB port to deliver power to the W1 receiver and a minijack input to get audio from the receiver. The left speaker contains a two-channel amplifier that drives the right passive speaker via speaker cable.

The two-year-old company sells the speakers direct online in the U.S., through about 80 U.S. dealers, and worldwide through 16 distributors.