Until one of our readers asked us what the best way to send laptop audio--or any audio source--wirelessly to a receiver, we at CNET Reviews hadn't really done much in the way of looking at products that do such a thing. However, since that request, we've looked at a handful of devices primarily designed to tackle wireless audio streaming.
The latest product to enter the market comes from Aperion Audio, called the Home Audio Link. It's a simple package that combines a transmitter, receiver, AC adapters, and audio cables to transmit any source wirelessly. Aperion made a few oddball design choices, but ultimately the Home Audio Links works well, is priced on par with its competition, and throws in a welcome bonus in the functionality department.
The Home Audio Link kit comes with two small cubes: one for transmitting audio and one for receiving audio. Each small gray block also has corresponding audio in and out ports to accommodate 1/8-inch connections where applicable.
After seeing the Creative Blaster Wireless System, we were convinced that the best way to transmit audio from a laptop computer was via USB. Luckily, this can be done with Home Audio Link as well, though we really enjoyed having the option of using USB or a 1/8-inch input jack. The 4-inch USB wire on the transmitting cube serves two purposes: it can either supply power to the device, or transmit audio from the computer (PC or Mac) it's being plugged into. When it's connected to a computer, you won't need to provide it with a separate power source. On the receiving end, however, the USB plug must be used to provide power.
Setting up the Home Audio Link is painless, and for the receiver portion, you will probably only need to configure it once. You simply plug the USB transmitter into a laptop or desktop and the Home Audio Link will automatically take over as the machine's sound card. Here you also have the option of plugging in a device that can output via a 1/8-inch headphone jack, but we should note that the cube's USB plug must then be attached to the power adapter and subsequently be plugged into an outlet. It's that 4-inch USB wire that really makes for a cumbersome connection when using a non-USB source. During our testing, we used an extension cord to satisfy the slack we'd need in order for our MP3 player to reach the transmitter's port. Perhaps a USB extension wire attached to the AC adapter plug would have been a more practical design choice.
Moving along to the receiving section of the kit, we're once again faced with that pesky 4-nch USB dongle that must be attached to one of the two included USB to AC adapters. It's on the receiving end where this limitation becomes troublesome, since in almost every real-world setup, you won't have an outlet within four inches of an AV receiver. We felt helpless because of this inherent design flaw, so we turned to a third-party USB male to female patch cable to extend the connection. Sure, such a wire is cheap and can be found online for less than $3, but we really wish Aperion would have had the foresight to include such an obviously necessary adapter.