IOGear Powerline Multiroom Audio System

Multiroom Audio The Easy Way

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When all is said and done, there are two ways to have multiroom audio in your home: either run speaker wires to each room and install a centralized audio distribution system, or buy a stereo system for every room where you want music. Neither option is ideal unless time and money are not important factors. Wireless broadcast systems are in development but are limited by distance and reliability.

Powerline Technology

IOGear has introduced a more practical, easy-to-install solution called the Powerline Stereo Audio System, which uses Powerline technology to distribute stereo audio to multiple rooms within a home. Powerline uses the existing electrical wiring in a home to distribute audio signals from one location to another without having to install additional wiring. The audio signal is "piggybacked" on the electrical wires you already have in your home. IO Gear is a member of the Homeplug Powerline Alliance, an industry group that develops standards for Powerline systems. Read more about Powerline technology and the Homeplug Alliance.

Powerline Audio System Features

For a basic two-room installation the IOGear system consists of two components: a Powerline Audio Station, a base station with a built-in iPod dock and a Powerline Stereo Audio Adapter. The Audio Station is placed in the main room and the Audio Adapter is placed in any other room in your home where you want music.

The Audio Station transmits or distributes audio to as many as four rooms or zones. It has inputs for two audio sources in addition to the iPod dock. It can connect to an existing stereo system or CD player with either stereo RCA cables or a 3.5mm stereo audio cable so you can distribute almost any analog audio source to any other room in the home.

The Audio Station also charges the docked iPod.

The Audio Adapter receives audio signals from the Audio Station via the electrical wires and can be connected to a pair of powered speakers or to another stereo system, mini system or any amplified stereo system with an audio input.

The basic Powerline Stereo Audio System comes with one Audio Adapter, but can be expanded to a four-room system with additional Audio Adapters. Additional Powerline Stereo Audio Systems can provide almost unlimited expansion capabilities beyond four rooms.

The Audio Station comes with dock adapters for different iPod models and a wireless remote control for selecting volume, track, play and pause on the docked iPod from other rooms.

The Powerline Audio System includes SRS WOW HD, a sound enhancement technology designed to provide a wider sound field with deeper bass and greater overall clarity, a useful feature for improving sound quality.

Powerline System Setup

Setup is very simple and takes only minutes. Plug in the Audio Station to an electrical outlet, dock an iPod or connect an audio source and select one of four transmission channels. Next, plug in the Audio Adapter to an electrical outlet in another room and connect it to a pair of powered speakers, a mini system or stereo system with audio inputs.

As long as the Audio Adapter and Audio Station are on the same channel the system will play music in the second room in a matter of seconds.

I connected the Audio Station to the stereo system in my main listening room via the fixed level analog record outputs. The system has only a CD player, although any audio source connected to the stereo system could be connected to the Audio Station via the REC OUT jacks.

I connected the Audio Adapter to a mini stereo system in the kitchen. The mini system has an AM/FM tuner and three 3.5mm mini-jack inputs for external audio sources.

The IOGear system can transmit only one source at a time, either the iPod or one of the other two sources connected to the Audio Station.

Perhaps future models will incorporate multiroom and multisource operation. My hunch, and it's only a hunch, is that IOGear is probably planning to do just that.

Powerline Real World Performance

The sound quality of the transmitted signal from either CD or iPod was excellent. There were no dropouts or interference from other electrical devices, such as a microwave oven, cordless phones or other appliances. A direct comparison of the sound in each room was difficult because of different speakers, but the sound quality in the kitchen was very good.

The IOGear system transmits at a data rate up to 28Mbps so even high-resolution audio sources, such as stereo SACD or DVD-Audio sound excellent. For comparison, a CD has a data rate of about 1.5Mbps.

I noticed a sound delay of approximately one second between the two rooms. The delay wasn't a problem if both systems weren't playing at the same time or if they were separated by walls. According to IOGear the audio signal is buffered or temporarily stored before being transmitted from the Audio Station to the Audio Adapter. The solution is to use an Audio Adapter with each system to equalize the delay between rooms.

The only other difficulty I encountered was AM radio interference in the second room. When the Audio Adapter was plugged in, the AM radio in the mini system was unusable due to static and noise. FM radio was not affected. I contacted IOGear and after some investigation they discovered that some AM tuners were affected and others were not.

I suspect that receivers with better tuner shielding are less affected by radio frequency interference (RFI) or Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI).

The problem was solved with an inline AC noise filter, an accessory costing $5 to $10.

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Conclusion

The IOGear Powerline Stereo Audio System is a giant step forward in multiroom audio. The system is easy to install, easier to use and sounds great. It can be expanded to as many rooms as desired and best of all, it does not require additional wiring or cutting holes in walls. So, put away the saw and forget about running wires from room-to-room. Instead, consider the Powerline Stereo Audio System – it's a simple solution with real benefits and I highly recommend it for multiroom music.

Looking ahead it appears that Powerline technology may be the future of multiroom audio.

Specifications

 

  • Data Rate: 28 Mbps
  • Security: 56-bit DES Encryption
  • Audio Station Dimensions (W x H x D): 8.375 in. x 1.625 in. x 5.625 in.
  • Weight (Audio Station): 1.48lb.
  • Price $444.95 system with one Audio Station and one Audio Adapter. Additional Audio
  • Adapters are $219.95 each.
  • Contact: iogear.com

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