|Review: AudioBulb Wireless Speaker|
Tuesday, 06 March 2012 11:00
When I first heard of the AudioBulb wireless audio system, I had no idea what it was. Was it a new kind of light bulb that magically sucked music out of the ether, or a speaker that emits light?
The reality, I learned when I was given a system to review, was pretty much: all of the above.
It is a system that meshes a few modern technologies into a system that makes it extremely easy – with one or two caveats, which I'll get to later – to wirelessly stream music anywhere in your home.
What you get when you buy an AudioBulb system is an iPod docking station, auxiliary input, LED light controlling, volume adjusting, and a wireless audio transmitting base station. You also get a pair of AudioBulbs that incorporate a speaker, digital amplifier, and a ring of LED lights.
Installing and using an AudioBulb system is literally as easy as changing a light bulb. Depending on where your lights are situated – the only special tool you may need is a ladder. Then you simply remove your light bulb from its fitting and replace it with one of the speakers. The AudioBulb speakers/light can be used with both standard screw-in as well as bayonet fittings. The speakers won't fit into any other light fittings, so check before you buy.
Once fitted, all you need to do is turn your light switch on in order to give the speaker power, plug your iPod – or any other audio device that has an audio out – into the base station, and turn it on. Within a few seconds, the speakers will display a soft green light to indicate that they have been paired with the transmitter.
All you need to do now is to start playing your music. If you're using an iPod, this can be controlled via a neat little remote control. The control will also let you adjust the volume, turn the LED lights on or off, or dim them to 50% brightness. It really is that simple.
Each base station can be paired with up to eight AudioBulbs, or a combination of AudioBulbs and sub woofers.
As with the AudioBulbs/speakers themselves, connecting a supplied sub is as easy as just plugging it into a power source. You may have to pair it with the transmitter (this was done for me by the distributors), but this once again is as simple as following the included instructions.
I tried placing the speakers as far apart as the limited space in my little house allows, and experienced no audio drop-outs. Therefore I find the company’s claimed range of up to 50 feet to be valid.
Okay, so the AudioBulb system is easy to install, use and it certainly makes distributing audio throughout your home extremely easy. For me though, the million dollar question as always is: does it sound good enough for me to want to use it for listening to music?
And the short answer is: if I take off my audiophile (or is that audiophool) hat, I quite enjoyed having music wirelessly playing all around my home. I could hear everything I needed to and despite being small and only having a ten watt amplifier built in, the system was able to reach a decent volume. With a few AudioBulbs in a room, you could have quite a party.
However, I was a little undecided about the sub woofer. While this certainly added some low frequency energy to the music, it (like many small subs) didn't play that low and tended to be a little “boomy” for my taste. Sometimes, no matter how I try, I can’t escape from the sound snobbishness I have acquired due to being a high-end audio reviewer.
Shedding some light on the light bulb part of the device: despite claiming to be equivalent to a 60 watt bulb, the light part of the speaker left my room a little dimmer than I would have liked. You also have to keep in mind that, since you keep the light switch on all the time to power the built-in amplifier and LEDs, you have to either remove other lights on the same circuit (unless you don’t mind them being on all the time), or remove them.
Ultimately, I’m of the opinion that the AudioBulb system did what it was supposed to and did it rather well.
Good: Easy to set up; works just like it's claimed to; offers decent range; good volume offers control over lights; iPod and there is an additional input as well.
Bad: You need the right kind of light fitting; the LED light was in my opinion a touch dim; and the sub was a touch boomy for my tastes.
Price: Audiobulb system (transmitter and two speakers) R 3 490.00
Additional speakers: R 1 200 each
Sub woofer: R 1 850.00
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