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Spread the A/V Love: Going Wireless

August 10, 2012 | Comments

The revolution in wireless technology has had a profound effect on how and where we enjoy music and TV at home. Back in the day, if you wanted to listen to music in the kitchen you'd crank up the speakers in your living room. It worked, but it was sort of like "enjoying" a concert from the parking lot.

By the early '90s, a new breed of A/V professional was designing and installing whole-house stereo systems that made it possible for homeowners to access their favorite tunes in any or all rooms. Music from a central audio component (a CD changer in those days) was distributed to in-wall speakers and controlled by a keypad in each room or zone that tied back to the main system.

Today's hard-wired systems are sophisticated yet simple to use, delivering a "music everywhere" experience that can be controlled via everyday mobile devices. But they tend to be costly to install because of the time and effort it takes to snake wire through walls and ceilings, which can be challenging, if not impossible, in older homes. (Labor costs are significantly less in new construction since wiring can be installed before the drywall goes up.)

A variety of flexible wireless options have emerged in recent years, making it possible to "broadcast" music and video throughout the home without extensive wiring (though cables are still needed to power to amplifiers and other components).

Music Everywhere, Wires Nowhere

Apart from the beauty and simplicity of distributing music wirelessly around the house, the latest systems are transportable and easy to use, and they produce sound that ranges from decent to outstanding. They also offer many cool features and capabilities that can spice up everyday living, not to mention house parties.

Here are a few examples:

  • Convenient control via a smartphone or tablet
  • Ability to set up independent zones with different tunes playing in different rooms
  • House-wide access to personalized Internet radio from services like Pandora
  • A docking station for your iPod/iPhone or iPad so you can enjoy iTunes on speakers around the house
  • AirPlay for super-convenient wireless access to music stored on Apple devices, allowing iPads and iPhones to become portable jukeboxes
  • Access to music stored on a desktop PC or dedicated server
  • Input jacks for a CD player, turntable and other old-school gear you want to call into action from time to time (it's okay to skip the 8-track)

These are just a few of the possibilities, and it's worth noting that an A/V professional can tailor any system to suit your needs and budget.

Video: Over the Air and Through the Walls

The pros use many technology tricks to make cables effectively disappear using existing coaxial, phone or electrical wiring so you can access a DVR (or movie server) from any room with multiple streams going at once. When it's time for bed, you can continue watching NCIS upstairs.

A/V pros also employ several wireless TV/video systems to avoid difficult cable runs when the Blu-ray player or cable box is located across the room or down the hall from the TV. The result is an efficient, super-clean setup that keeps labor costs down.

To learn more about the latest wireless A/V technologies, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member electronic systems integrators in your area.