Cruising World - - Boats & Gear -

When it comes to stream­ing au­dio, not all wire­less sources are cre­ated equally, and it’s worth con­sid­er­ing the two most pop­u­lar stan­dards, namely Blue­tooth and Wi-fi, us­ing tech­nol­ogy such as Ap­ple’s pro­pri­etary Air­play stream­ing. While Blue­tooth is the most of­ten used way of eas­ily con­nect­ing, for ex­am­ple, a smart­phone with a speaker or stereo, it op­er­ates on the 2.4-gi­ga­hertz fre­quency and has a rel­a­tively nar­row band­width and a max­i­mum line-of-sight range of about 30 feet.

In com­par­i­son, Wi-fi net­works typ­i­cally op­er­ate on 2.4-, 3.6- or 5-gi­ga­hertz fre­quen­cies, and have con­sid­er­ably higher band­widths and max­i­mum ranges of about 300 feet. How­ever, they re­quire a third-party wire­less router (com­monly avail­able, from $70) and a wire­less lo­cal area net­work to pair, for ex­am­ple, a smart­phone with a stereo con­trol head. (Al­ter­na­tively, sys­tems with built-in Wi-fi ac­cess points, such as Fu­sion’s Apollo se­ries, elim­i­nate the need for a router and wire­less net­work.) While main­tain­ing a router and wire­less net­work re­quires some ad­di­tional cost and low-level ad­min­is­tra­tive com­plex­ity, it al­lows for larger, higher-res­o­lu­tion au­dio files to be shared, which is mu­sic to the ears of au­dio­philes who de­mand so-called loss­less, or un­com­pressed, au­dio files.

De­ter­min­ing the right wire­less op­tion for your boat should de­pend on the qual­ity (or size) of your au­dio source files, what wire­less net­work ex­ists or can be added, and how se­ri­ously you take your mu­sic qual­ity.

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