Wiring up a home audio system is the past. Why bother, when there are so many great wireless options out there? Here’s a quick guide to the kinds of unplugged music gear that can transform every room in your house into a neat, powerful listening chamber.
The 100-watt MN5000 serves as both the amplifier and central speaker in a multi-room sound system. Over Wi-Fi, it combines songs on a user’s hard drive with music from Pandora and other services into one mega-library. With a phone app, listeners can browse the catalog, choose the rooms in which music will play (the MN5000 syncs with other Altec gear), and adjust volume.
Altec Lansing MN5000 $500
D-Link’s Amplifi prioritizes music and video streams so they’ll play without sputtering, even if a bandwidth-heavy task, like a photo upload, is running at the same time. Outside the house, the Amplifi provides remote access to music. With an MP3-loaded hard drive plugged into the router’s USB, listeners can play songs through a cloud- based smartphone app.
D-Link Amplifi HD Media Router 3000 (DIR-857) $170
The HTC Rezound comes with the sharpest screen of any phone (342 pixels per inch, to be exact)—handy when navigating Altec’s remote-control app or reading liner notes on the 4.3-inch screen. When used with headphones as a media player, the Android handset’s audio equalization is pre-tuned for the deep bass of most pop and hip-hop.
HTC Rezound $300 (with two-year Verizon Wireless contract)
HP’s Phoenix has enough storage (160 gigabytes to start, in speedy SSD form) to hold an entire music library, enough power for users to mix and edit their own original songs, and a one-gigabyte graphics engine—ideal for rendering high-def games and video. All the while, the liquid-cooled tower can easily handle continuous audio streaming to Altec’s speaker.
HP Pavilion HPE Phoenix $1,150