It seems everything else is going wireless, so why not audio and video equipment? With an AV transmitter/receiver pair, you can connect your AV equipment to media sources anywhere in your home or office without running a single wire. With the right equipment, there’s practically nothing to set up—you just plug and play. A Smart Tv can connect to your media server but not everyone has a Smart TV, and don’t forget audio only transmitters for blasting music throughout your house.
Audio-Only Transmitters And Receivers
The simplest types of devices in this category are the audio-only transmitters and receivers. They come in several different versions, the one with the longest history being wireless headphones.
A pair of wireless headphones has a base station that you connect to an audio source (typically your television or amplifier) and a pair of headphones with a built-in receiver. Some devices include an option to switch wireless channels in case of interference, but besides that and a volume control, there’s nothing to setup. Wireless headphones are great for anyone who’s hard of hearing or who wants to watch television or listen to music without disturbing other people in the house.
The downside of these transmitters is that they only work with the included headphones—so if you break the headphones, you have to pay full price for a replacement from the same brand. You can’t use generic headphones or upgrade to better headphones at a later time.
More recently, Bluetooth audio transmitters have entered the market. You connect these to the audio output of your device and then you can listen to the audio using any standard Bluetooth headset or headphones. This is a great way to re-purpose your existing Bluetooth equipment, and there are plenty of generic options to choose from if you need a replacement or want to upgrade to higher-quality equipment.
Video Transmitters And Receivers
More complex are transmitters and receivers designed to transmit both video and audio. These come in pairs, with one piece of equipment designed to connect to the video/audio output of a computer, gaming console, or other device, and the other piece of equipment designed to connect to the input of your television (or, more rarely, other piece of A/V equipment).
It’s critically important that the transmitter/receiver you buy have the right connections for your A/V equipment. By far the most common connections are RCA A/V (three plug) connections:
- A yellow connection for the composite video.
- Red and white connections for stereo audio.
If you plan to use a transmitter and receiver using an RCA connection, you should look at the back of your output device (e.g. gaming console) and input device (e.g. television) and make sure you have a group of yellow, red, and white plugs available.
Something important to note about composite video is that it is standard definition video—not HD video. Similarly, stereo audio isn’t 5.1 channel or better quality sound. That means these transmitters and receivers are fine for a basic video experience, but you probably want something better for a top-notch video experience.
If you want to transmit HD video, expect to pay three to four times more than for standard definition video. These transmitters and receivers connect to HDMI audio/video ports, so there’s only one cord on both the input and output device.
Both standard and HD video transmitters sometimes have two video inputs, although most only have one video output. If that’s the case, it can save you from having to buy an extra device—but make sure you get a device with a remote control that allows you to switch between the inputs. Otherwise you’ll have to walk over to the transmitter box every time you want to change the input.
Distance And Quality
In general, all devices should transmit about the same distance—that’s because manufacturers are limited by law to how much power they can use in the transmitter. You should be able to go 200 to 300 feet (100 meters) in an open room such as an auditorium, or through one (maybe two) walls over ranges between 30 and 60 feet (10 to 20 meters).
However, audio-only transmitters and standard-definition video transmitters use analog signals which tend to degrade more gracefully than HD video signals, so you might get some extra distance out of them, with the trade off that the signal won’t look or sound as good. HD transmitters will be more sensitive, so be careful spending several hundred dollars on them unless you know they’ll cover the distance you need.
Whether you buy a high-quality device or the cheapest transmitter receiver pair you can find, all devices are at risk of suffering from interference. There are a few things you can do to help avoid wasting your money:
- Make sure you buy the transmitter and receiver pair from a business with a good return policy and good customer service, such as Amazon.com. When you get the pair, use it frequently during the return period so you can detect whether or not there’s any intermittent interference before it’s too late to return it.
- Try pre-testing the signal path. Many transmitters operate on a similar radio frequency as wireless-N transmitters, so you may be able to attempt a test. Put your wireless router as close as possible to where you plan to put either the transmitter or receiver. Then take your laptop or other mobile device and put it near where you plan to put the other part (transmitter or receiver). Check your signal strength: if it’s below 50%, there’s a fair chance it’s not strong enough for the audio/video transmitter and receiver.
- During the pre-test or the return period, be sure to test the signal quality while running high-energy electrical equipment in your home or office. The number one equipment cause of interference is microwaves, so be sure to run yours during a test. Clothes dryers and nearby hair dryers also tend to cause problems, as do sump pumps and anything else with a large motor. Although you can’t control them, lightning storms can also be a problem.
For short distances, less than about 100 feet (30 meters) and through no more than one wall, wireless audio and video transmitters and receivers tend to work great. They free you up from running cable, especially in places such as apartments where cable runs aren’t allowed. Just make sure you buy from a business that makes returns easy in case you have interference problems.