WIRES NOT INCLUDED
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.