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Multi-room music systems were once mocked among hi-fi afficionados as expensive toys for those with more money than sense. But today, they are no longer the preserve of the mansion-owning, off-shore-banking elite.
While it's fair to say you probably won't be listening to your favourite tunes while sweating it out in the sauna or sunning yourself by the pool, the affordability of modern wireless networking kit means you can set up a system for listening in two or three rooms if you have just a few hundred quid to spare. And with the market maturing all the time, there is an increasing number of companies getting in on the act.
One company that's been in the wireless audio business from the very beginning is Philips, with its Streamium range of products. We reviewed its wireless-music-system-in-a-box – the Streamium WACS700/05 – over a year ago now and it has now been given an update.
On the face of it, the new WACS7000 doesn't look like much of an upgrade. The system still comes in the form of two units – one large base station and another smaller satellite box. They're both done out in the same smart silver and black livery as before. Both have a small, 2.9in monochrome LCD screen mounted in the centre with an array of buttons flanking the screen and the main volume and navigation controls running along the bottom. And each has a pair of built-in flat panel speakers complemented by a small subwoofer.
The greatest advantage the original has over rival systems is that you could run it without a PC if you wanted, with none of the faffing about with networks and security. And there's no change to that here either. Plug both in, switch them on, and in a matter of minutes you'll be enjoying wireless multi-room music.
The base station has its own 80GB hard disk and a CD drive too, which can be used to rip discs at bitrates of up to 320kbits/sec. Track names are looked up on the preloaded Gracenote database so there's no need at all to involve a PC at any stage of the proceedings if you don't want, or just can't face, the complication.