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Would You Like Wireless with That? Bluetooth or AirPlay In Your HiFi
By Bes Nievera

With many leading audio brands bringing Bluetooth and AirPlay wireless playback onboard many of the products we offer at Music Direct, you might be wondering what choice sounds better. In a nutshell, both offer full fidelity sound but have certain niceties that may win over certain users – as well as challenges that perplex diehard audiophiles.

AirPlay (and the updated AirPlay2), created by Apple, is a proprietary audio process that can stream high-quality audio and/or video from any iOS device to compatible products via WiFi. Capable of producing up to high-resolution 24-bit/48kHz audio, AirPlay can send a feed up to 20 feet (depending on WiFi strength) but remains subject to dropouts based on signal quality and other environmental factors. Considered by most audiophiles as the superior of the two wireless technologies, AirPlay benefits from perceptive audio quality, especially when played through components that offer onboard AirPlay or software programs like Roon. Fidelity, while nowhere near as good as a traditional wired setup, proves very palatable due to AirPlay's ability to play acceptable native files up to CD quality.

Found on virtually every phone and audio-transmitting device around, Bluetooth (and its higher-quality Bluetooth aptX) is a widely used wireless process that uses its own proprietary transmit/receive process – all without the aid of a WiFI network. Bluetooth got a jump in making updates to its own 24-bit/48kHz rates, setting a higher bar for audio quality. Like AirPlay, Bluetooth ranges can be spotty, with reported ranges of up to 15 feet before signal quality gets compromised. AptX has steadily gained acceptance among the audio community and is less expensive to implement in components. Early Bluetooth codecs tended to sound compressed, and lacked detail because of lossy compression; AptX restores much of the lost audio quality, and is also backward-compatible with older Bluetooth devices. Roon users can also deploy its software in devices as a possible endpoint.

Audiophiles may have a love-hate relationship with wireless audio formats, but with many companies now using mesh-level wireless technology in speakers and components, user adoption of AirPlay and Bluetooth is increasingly becoming more common. Our Music Direct Audio Consultants can help get your audiophile wireless fix – give us a call!

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February 12, 2020

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