This year, especially in the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of news in the wireless music system category. Sonos added the PLAY:1 speaker to its system while Samsung, Bose, Lenbrook (Bluesound) and Bang and Olufsen all launched new wireless music system.
With all those sans-wires system hitting the market, it’s kind of a surprise to see another new music system that uses, well, wires. That’s Simple Audio, and it’s not quite as simple as that.
You see, in the case of the new Roomplayer products, the wires that send music around the house are as unobtrusive as Wi-Fi. That’s because the system relies on powerline networking—your home’s existing electrical system. In a way, since it requires no new wires, these wires are wireless.
You can also use plain-old Ethernet to connect the system to your network.
Wire semantics aside, the Simple Audio system takes a similar approach to multiroom audio as many of the other systems on the market. There are two available components. The Roomplayer is a networked streaming device, similar to the Sonos Connect Amp. Once connected to your network, you just need to hook up your own speakers, download the app, and get started listening to music. It delivers 50 watts per channel and can play MP3s up to 24-bit.
The Roomplayer also has a subwoofer output if you need more bass.
The Roomplayer II is a pre-amp only version. If you already have a sound system in your room, you connect the Roomplayer II to it via digital or analog audio outputs.
With the Roomplayers you can listen to internet music from Deezer or TuneIn or tap into any music source on your network, such as your computer (PC or Mac) or a NAS drive or USB-conneced drive. Additional streaming apps will be added.
Add as many Roomplayers throughout the home as you need to build a whole-house system. The players can be controlled from any computer or the free iOS/Android apps.
Aside from the powerline aspect, another interesting thing about the Roomplayers is that they allow you to set up separate user profiles. Say you have a multiple people in the house—each one can have a separate profile with separate playlists or favorites.
One thing to keep in mind if you’re using PLC to connect your players to the network—power conditioners and surge suppressors are not recommended, because they can filter out the network and leave your player hanging.
The Roomplayer (amplified version) costs $799. The Roomplayer II (preamp version) is $699. Simple Audio Roomplayers will be available only to AV specialist’s and custom integrators.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.