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Best Buy Expands Wireless Multi-Room Audio Selection

Best Buy expanded its selection of wireless multi-room-audio products with a series of devices bearing the company’s Rocketfish brand.

The launch of four affordable Rocketfish SKUs follows the introduction of a higher-end Altus lineup of wireless multi-room audio products co-developed with Sony.

The Rocketfish selection consists of wireless senders and receivers that connect to existing music sources, including PCs and MP3 players, and to existing sounds systems or speakers. The selection also includes an amplified outdoor speaker with built-in wireless receiver. The devices use a technology called Rocketboost to transmit uncompressed music in 48kHz/16-bit PCM form in the 2.4GHz band up to 164 feet when no obstructions are present.

Within a home, audio from up to five different sources, each connected to its own Rocketfish transmitter, can be transmitted simultaneously to up to nine different receivers. Receivers come with a volume control and volume-controlling remote, but sources cannot be controlled from the receivers or included remotes, a spokeswoman said.

One product, the $99 RF-RBREC, combines wireless receiver with 2×42-watt (RMS, 4 ohms) Class D amplifier to power passive speakers, including surround-sound speakers in a home-theater system. The $59 RF-RBAUX doubles as a sender or receiver but lacks amplifier. And a $199 starter kit consists of a transmitter and receiver, which also lacks amplifier.

The $179 RF-RBWS02 outdoor weather-resistant mono speaker features single floorstanding cylindrical housing with built-in amplifier and built-in wireless receiver. The outdoor speaker is packaged with a wireless transmitter. Two outdoor speakers can be paired to deliver stereo. Each outdoor speaker operates on eight C batteries, but a built-in charger charges optional NiMH rechargeable batteries.

The Altus-series products, in contrast, include tabletop music systems, speakers and home-theater products, all available at Best Buy as well as other Sony dealers. That lineup includes two iPod/iPhone-docking tuner-equipped speaker systems at $400 and $700. Each transmits iPod music and radio stations to two single-chassis speaker systems. An RF remote commander with LCD displays song metadata.

The Altus series also offers two PC audio multi-room packages, which deliver PC audio to two remote rooms, and Sony’s $800 BDV-E500W 5.1-channel Blu-ray home theater in a box system with wireless surround speakers, iPod dock, and ability to stream music wirelessly to up to 10 separately sold single-chassis speaker systems.

The Altus products are displayed in a dedicated Altus display. The Rocketfish products have their own displays, a spokeswoman said.