Audioengine W2 Review

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Audioengine’s newest product, the W2, is perhaps the coolest iPhone gadget on the market. Have you ever wanted the ability to stream music wirelessly from iPod or iPhone to your home stereo without monkeying through a remote interface? Now you can. The W2 allows you to connect your iPod or iPhone directly to your stereo wirelessly.

With the W2 you get a wireless receiver about the size of a pack of gum that is USB powered. You can attach it with the included USB AC adapter and plug the stereo out jack to any audio device, including your home stereo. The transmitter is an even smaller device the same width as an iPhone with an iPod connector pointing out the top.

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There is no software to configure. You simply plug the receiver into your stereo and the transmitter into your iPod. I took it to a friend’s home and played Christmas music through his stereo off my iPhone. Lets just say, hypothetically, that you have a nice collection of Yo-Yo Ma on your iPhone but your wife would prefer Duran Duran off her iPod Touch. It is easy with the W2. Speaking hypothetically, you can simply pull the transmitter out of one device and attach it to another. Marital bliss restored. Streaming music from your iPod just became stupid easy. It will work on the iPod classic, 2g Nano or later, iPod touch, and the iPhone.

This device stems from the same technology in Audioengine’s W1. It creates a 2.4GHz network that works for about 30 feet. When you get out of range, the music starts cutting out intermittently or drops all together. When you get back into range, it picks right back up. Consider it a 30 foot invisible cord. Latency is reported at less than 20 milliseconds. My high-tech test for this involved watching movies on my iPhone while streaming the soundtrack through my stereo. I did not notice any delay.

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The audio quality is good. The manufacturer reports it can keep up with uncompressed CD-quality. In my tests, it did. I played high bit rate music ranging from classical to rock and did not notice any difference between the sound through the W2 and the sound transmitted over a conventional stereo cord plugged directly into my iPhone.

I found the W2 even more useful than the W1. While I still like my home entertainment system streaming through iTunes on my Mac, the ability to change playlists, tracks, and volume using the built-in iPod interface is much easier and my kind of geeky.

The W2 includes both the sender and receiver units, the USB power adapter, the 3.5mm to RCA adapter and an audio cable for $169. You can find it at AudioengineUSA.com.