A cable-free life
Wireless internet, wireless printers, wireless games controllers. The whole world seems to be casting cables aside and music lovers aren't being left behind. Imagine coming home, making a few taps on your smartphone's remote app and having crystal clear music pour out of nowhere. Thanks to wireless music systems, this is just the beginning.
Why go wireless?
If you thought your music just had to live on your computer or phone, then think again. Wireless technology will let you bring your favourite playlists to any space. Some set-ups even allow you to listen to different music at different volumes across multiple rooms, if you were so inclined. But that does mean you can bring the living room to life when friends come over, and turn the kitchen into a chill-out zone with music to match - it's all possible.
One of the biggest drawbacks with home music set-ups in the past lay in wires. Elaborate systems of cables needed to be run behind walls and across floors to get the best experience, causing clutter and even renovations to accommodate speaker mounts. Wireless does away with all that, lets you place your speakers wherever you want, and even move them if your preferences change. All you need is a wireless router to get you started (or not, if you go the Bluetooth route - more on that later).
When it comes to making your music wireless there are a few options. Bluetooth, DLNA and Apple's AirPlay technology all perform similar tasks but with a few key differences.
AirPlay-enabled devices work by piggy-backing on your home wireless network. All you need to get started is a Wi-Fi-enabled computer or smartphone running Apple's iTunes software, and a connection to your wireless router.
With a range limited only by your network's reach, you can enjoy music streamed through compatible speakers, or share your entire library with AirPlay-enabled docks and stereos across multiple rooms. A remote App for the iPhone and iPod touch even allows you to control the volumes of each device, wherever you are.
Popular with brands like Sonos, AirPlay is one of the most consistently reliable wireless music playing solutions out there. The Sonos PLAY: 3 is an excellent introduction to the technology; compact, expandable and a snip to set up - just plug it in! You'll be enjoying your music in no time.
DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)
DLNA-certified gadgets, like AirPlay devices, are made to talk to each other over your home network. When it comes to your music, this means you can share and transfer tunes between your certified PC and smartphone, or even enjoy your playlists through the speaker system on your DLNA-enabled TV. This type of sharing is also possible for images and videos, making it a whole media experience.
Find out more about the nuts and bolts of DLNA technology.
Probably the most direct way to play your music wirelessly without a router, Bluetooth is available in most phones and many laptops these days. Just pair your Bluetooth speaker(s) and compatible phone or computer and go. However, with a limited range of about 10 metres, this method is best if you're planning to enjoy your music in one room at a time.
DAB, Docks and that CD collection
Just because you're losing the wires doesn't mean that you'll have to put aside your CD collection or give up on your favourite radio stations. Many systems like the Pure Contour 200i come with tailored docks for your iPod, iPad or iPhone (and connector slots for other MP3 players). Upload your old CDs to iTunes, drop them on your iPod or MP3 player, dock and go. Of course if you want to cut to the chase, a machine with a built-in CD player like the luxury Loewe SoundVision will do the trick too!
Radio hasn't been left out in all this. Wireless sound systems include FM tuners, and those with integrated DAB receivers give you all your favourite radio stations in crystal-clear digital sound without pesky tuning or antenna fiddling. All this wireless connectivity has also opened up the world of internet radio, bringing literally thousands of stations into your home.
Wireless on the move
Multi-room sound is all well and good, but sometimes we want our listening experience to be a little more personal. This is where wireless headphones come in. You can move about your home enjoying the pitch-perfect details of on-ear headphones without dragging cables. Models like the SMS Audio Sync even come with wireless adaptors that can be connected to any standard headphone output, making wireless listening possible just about anywhere.