Earlier this year Audio Engine introduced their first wireless audio solution, the W1. Although the W1 worked flawlessly, it left the iPod crowd salivating for a wireless solution for their coveted MP3 player. Heeding the calls of numerous iPod owners, Audioengine finally released an iPod dockable product: the W2.
Included in the box is a transmitter that plugs into the iPod’s dock, the receiver, 3.5mm to 3.5mm cord, power pack and RCA to headphone cord. As with the W1, the W2 transmits audio over the same slightly tweaked WiFi spectrum.
Setting up the W2 is simple as ‘plug and play’. Insert the transmitter into the iPod’s dock, plug in the receiver into the speakers or stereo, hit play, and presto, wireless audio. The sound quality of the W2 is superb and based on my refined ear I couldn’t perceive any derivation in quality from the source to the receiver.
Since the W2′s transmitter is powered by the iPod’s battery there is inevitably a reduction in playback time. I tested the W2 with my iPhone – which is not certified for use since the iPhone’s GSM signal could interfere with the transmission of audio (but didn’t) – and I didn’t notice a massive drop in battery power; something along the lines of 10-15% drop over normal playback time.
The wireless range of the W2 appears to be more limited than the W1. When I traveled about 10 feet and 1 wall away from the receiver, the transmission was lost. This is probably largely due to the weak power source that the receiver draws from, the iPod. Once I traveled back in range, though, audio immediately re-initiated.
Another small and annoying hindrance is the receiver’s loose dock connection. A slight jostle and the W2 receiver tended to knock loss from my iPhone (same with my buddy’s iPod) interrupting music playback or worse, creating unwanted static in the connection. An easy problem to resolve – just reinsert the W2 – but could prove a significant hurdle for those that plan on storing their iPod in their pocket during wireless playback.
Speaking of carrying the iPod. Both the W2′s receiver and transmitter are very light weight and add little to no significant weight to the MP3 player. Since the transmitter plugs into the dock, it does extend the overall size of the playback device by about 10%.
Of note, if you owned the W1, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s compatible with the W2. You’ll simply need to pair the two by holding down the W2′s sender button for 3 seconds (until the LED flashes rapidly) and do the same to the W1′s receiver until the music is paired.
Overall Audioengine’s W2 iPod wireless adapter is like the killer app every iPod owner should have. I’m still frustrated by the cordless power pack that is also found on the W1, but it’s a small price to pay for wireless audio from an iPod. This only applies to iPod Touch or iPhone users, but it’s worth pointing out that applications, such as AOL Music or Pandora won’t work with the W2 since Apple’s SDK agreement prevents the apps from working with anything ‘dock’. But since the W2 is better suited for iPod classics and Nanos it’s a rather moot point. In other words, the W1 is a better solution for iPod Touch and iPhone users with the advent of the ‘remote’ app.
At $169 it ain’t cheap, but in retrospect a small price to pay for turning your iPod into a ‘walk almost any where, music on demand’ DJ.
- Super easy setup and operation
- Superior audio reproduction for wireless transmission
- Loose dock connection creates occasional static and interruption in playback
- Cordless AC plug
The Audioengine W2 is available here for $169