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A while back we were asked about an easy solution to stream audio from a laptop to a receiver. It seemed simple enough, but we soon found out that there weren't too many practical or inexpensive ways to accomplish such a task.
Creative has offered a solution to the situation and while it may not be inexpensive, it's an easy and painless way to get your PC or Mac audio streaming directly to external speakers or a receiver. The system isn't without its faults, but we really enjoyed the overall performance of the device.
The Sound Blaster Wireless System for iTunes and Receiver is actually a bundle featuring two separate products. First, the wireless system for iTunes is simply a USB dongle that transmits audio from your computer to a Creative receiver. The second product is an actual wireless audio receiver that can connect to external speakers or an AV receiver. Creative has combined the two into a wireless system that retails for around $150 online.
Setting up the wireless system is fairly straightforward. You attach the USB dongle into an open port on your computer and then set up the receiver next to your external speakers or AV receiver. The rear of the receiver has two line-out connections: a 1/8 inch jack and an RCA analog stereo out. The receiver requires a power supply, which is included with the package.
To get the dongle and receiver to sync, you hold down the USB dongle "connect" button for a moment, then scoot over to the receiver and do the same to the "link" button on the rear. Once paired, a white LED light will remain statically lit on the front of the receiver. After the connection has been made, all audio from your computer will then stream to the wireless receiver.
The receiver itself has a play/pause button in addition to skip forward and backward track buttons. It's quite small and should fit snugly in your entertainment center. The white LED light it projects may be a bit bright, especially if you're using it in a dark room. The included remote control has a series of buttons, some of which will only work if you're using a more featured receiver (such as the MovieWorks HD dock). For use with the bundle system we're reviewing here, you'll only be able to use the volume, mute, play/pause, and skip track buttons. All that aside, you'll only be able to control tracks when using a PC.
The USB dongle has two LED indicators: a power and link light. The link light will stay lit when connected to the receiver. The dongle itself is a bit larger than a thumb drive and also has an antenna protruding out of it. The antenna feels a bit flimsy and looks as if it might break off if twisted in the wrong direction. We definitely recommend leaving it as is out of the box. A microphone and headphone jack also sit at the edge of the dongle, allowing you access to both features that would normally be cut off by the device taking over as a sound card.