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Setting Up Wireless Audio Systems: Not Always Easy

Multi-room Wi-Fi speakers use an assortment of technologies and implementations to let you stream music from mobile devices and computers to multiple rooms at a time.

After playing with a trio of products, I personally prefer systems that do it all: stream music from mobile devices and use the mobile device as a remote controller to select PC-stored music. I have more music on my PC than I do on my phone, and this solution is the most convenient for me as a consumer.

But as a consumer, I’ve also learned that the instructions included with the products could be a lot clearer.

The easiest-to-use system was also the easiest to set up, with one frustrating exception. The instructions said to connect a transmitter/receiver to your router so you could stream music from your mobile device. The instructions assume you have a wireless router, which I do. But I also have a wired router connected to it because I need more Ethernet ports for all the A/V equipment in my basement and for wired-Ethernet connections to the first floor.

So I connected the transmitter/receiver to the wired router. The module didn’t work. I played around with settings, etc., then called customer service, which told me to connect the transmitter/receiver directly to the Wi-Fi router.

Problem solved.

Another system’s owner’s manual prioritizes iOS-device connectivity over Android connectivity. The iOS instructions might have been clear, but everyone in the house owns an Android device, and the Android setup instructions presume you followed part of the iOS-setup instructions before connecting an Android device. How about complete setup instructions for Apple devices, and separate but complete instructions for Android devices? A call to customer service ironed it out, but setup still took a lot of steps.

A third system presented no setup problems at all for streaming from a mobile device, but to stream from a PC, you have to go to the Internet to download third-party media-server software. No thanks. I work for a living, have leaves to rake, and have laundry to do.