• Review: Eos Digital Wireless Multi-Room Audio System

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    Being reviewed today is the E<a href="http://www.smarthome.com.au/hometheatre/wireless-audio.php">os Digital Wireless Multi-Room Audio System</a>, hereafter called simply Eos, 'cause I'll be damned if I'm going to keep typing that. <em>(decryption edit: Kevin Smith rules!)</em>

    <strong>What's in the Box? </strong>
    <li>Base Station</li>
    <li>1x Wireless speaker</li>
    <li>1x Remote</li>
    <li>5x Universal iPod Dock Adapters</li>
    <li>Base Station Power adaptor</li>
    <li>3.5mm AUX cable</li>
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    The Eos is a wireless multi-speaker system, designed for the iPod/iPhone family. The review unit included a base station and one wireless speaker. The system can be expanded to include 4 speakers. It also has a 3.5mm AUX port if you want to plug your laptop or any other non iPod device.

    <strong>Tested with:</strong>
    <li>The Beatles Remastered (Mono)</li>
    <li>Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest</li>
    <li>Wilco - Wilco</li>
    <li>This American Life Podcast <em>(I'd already listed to MacTalk this week)</em></li>
    <li>iPhone 3G</li>
    <li>iPod Nano 1st Gen</li>
    <li>iPod Touch 1st Gen</li>
    <li>iPod shuffle 2nd Gen (using the AUX port)</li>
    Reading MacTalk reviews, it's clear just how subjective aesthetics can be, so I'll try and stick with facts and you can have a look at the photos and decide. The base station looks similar to a lot of iPod docks out there - glossy black outer case, with silver speakers. Both the wireless speaker and the base station have an antenna with a blue LED. The base station has buttons for volume, switching off/on the wireless speakers, switching to the AUX input, mute and more blue LED's to indicate how many wireless speakers are operating.
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    It's a cliché but I use Macs because they "just work" and I expect the same from any peripherals I buy and the Eos lives up to the expectation. I only looked at the manual once to figure out how to eject the plug from the wireless speakers. Other than that all I needed to do was plug in the power for the base unit drop in my iPhone and fire it up. Then I schlepped the wireless speaker up the hall (about 15 meters), plugged it in, switched it on and within seconds it picked up the base station and out came the tunes.

    The Eos uses a 1.5 Mbps transmission data rate, over a 2400 to 2483 MHz range. The connection to the wireless speaker was perfect; I took it from one end of my house to the other and couldn't loose the signal. According to the specs the speaker should work to a distance of about 40 meters and it will not interfere with WiFi, Bluetooth or you cordless phone.

    The Eos also comes with a remote which allows you to play/pause, mute, advance tracks and adjust the volume - although this only relates to the base unit, the wireless speakers have dedicated volume knobs <em>(teehee...knobs)</em>.
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    <strong>How does it sound?</strong>
    The base station packs a little punch. It's not what I'd call loud, but it does fills a large room nicely for a unit of its size. Bass is nice and rich and the dynamic range was good as well. The Eos uses something called SRS WOW. I have no idea what this is, but according to the literature it <em>“expands the size of the audio image and creates a deep, rich base response.”</em> ...and I'm not really sure what that means either. But if it what is responsible for the quality of the sound, it works pretty well.

    The wireless speaker on the other hand doesn't provide much in the way of volume and there is some speaker buzz and distortion evident at any point past halfway on the volume dial. It is a 2.1 speaker with a dedicated sub in the back of the unit.

    The system as a whole works best at a low to midrange volume, and I think there is a place in the world for something that isn’t designed to necessarily make your ears bleed. It would be a great solution for a small business to have centrally controlled music throughout the work place without black wires running up the wall (poorly installed AV equipment can make a business look kinda unprofessional). If I owned a restaurant or a café, I’d be all over this.

    While it is recommended to switch your iPhone to airplane mode to avoid interference, I didn’t bother and experienced no problems at all.
    <p style="text-align: center;"><img class="size-full wp-image-4120 aligncenter" title="IMG_1865" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/IMG_1865.jpg" alt="IMG_1865" width="453" height="600" /></p>

    The starter kit (base station and one wireless speaker) retails for $399 and additional speakers go for $189, which I think is a little pricey, particularly if you add the full compliment of the additional three speakers. Although it is worth noting that the review unit was supplied by <a href="http://www.smarthome.com.au">SmartHome.com.au</a> and in the lead up to Christmas will be selling them for $299 and $169 respectively. I think this is closer to the mark when it comes to their true value.

    The elephant in the room here is AirTunes and the AirPort Express. If you only need your music in two spots AirTunes is still the way to go. I don't really need my music to follow me around to every room in my house, but that said I found the Eos great for podcasts. Often I'm listening to a podcast and have to do something in another room, so I stop it and never get back to it. It was nice to stroll about the house and listen to an hour long podcast.

    If you’re looking for a multi-room wireless solution that doesn't use AirTunes, particularly if you looking at more than two rooms the Eos Wireless might suit you just fine. It’s dead simple to set up and pretty much does what it says it going to do on the box (which is kinda rare sadly).

    <em>This my first review, so I'm just getting the hang of this. The great thing about forums and MacTalk in particular is that it embraces the reality of the new world order when it comes to publishing. It is no longer a one way street, and I see reviews as living things that can be added to with feedback and questions. So if you have a question about the Eos, please add a comment and I will do my best to answer it. (I'm </em><a href="http://forums.mactalk.com.au/members/Minkey.html"><em>Minkey</em></a><em> on the forums)</em>
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