Wireless, A Solution or a Problem?

AR-wireless1.jpegAs more and more products are available that use wireless bandwidths it's increasingly obvious that people like wireless stuff. It's also way too easy to forget that wireless connections were created as a solution to a problem. That problem was how to get a signal from point A to point B when you can't run a wire between them.

In the world of audio we are offered many wireless solutions, from Wi-Fi music servers to wireless rear speakers and subwoofers. In most cases a wired solution is a cheaper, more reliable, and sonically superior connection scheme. But sometimes wireless does make sense, particularly when you are facing ground-loop hum and interference issues.

Ever since I turned on my first subwoofer it was obvious that it's hard to keep a subwoofer from humming. Even high-quality subwoofers will hum if the ground loop conditions exist. The old-school solution - floating the ground by not attaching the center ground plug, is potentially hazardous, and sometimes floating the ground and reversing the AC plug's polarity, still doesn't work to eliminate hum.

The wireless solution from Atlantic, Outlaw, Aperion, physically disconnects the subwoofer from the rest of the system. No physical connection means no possibility of hum. Every time I've used the Outlaw sender/receiver system, subwoofer hum has dropped to internal self-noise levels.

When is a wireless "connection" a mistake? Whenever you can use Ethernet cable instead. Ethernet virtually guarantees more robust throughput and a lower percentage of transmission/receiving errors. Except for the Sonos system, which uses it's own closed and separate Wi-Fi network, music over a Wi-Fi network will always be at the mercy of the nearest microwave oven or teen's must-see uTube video.

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