In today’s increasingly wireless world, cables can be a real thorn in our side, cluttering up living rooms and making it impossible to install equipment in a tidy, minimal way. It’s the stuff domestic disputes are made of, and is particularly problematic when it comes to home cinema systems – the need to install surround speakers means you’ll have a bunch of cables snaking their way from your AV receiver to the back of the room. If you’ve had the foresight to run them into walls or behind skirting then fair play to you, but if not then hiding them away can be a real nightmare.
That’s why manufacturers have been coming up with various ways of avoiding this tangled mess. Teufel’s answer is the RearStation 4, which has been conceived to satisfy the ever-growing demand for wireless music streaming as well as simplifying home cinema installation. With a price tag pushing £300, it’s not a cheap solution, but the beauty is that it works with any of your audio hardware, unlike wireless rear kits from some big-name manufacturers that only work with a particular all-in-one system or brand.
Here’s how the RearStation 4 works. In the box, you get one transmitter and one receiver unit. The transmitter connects to the source device, be it a hi-fi, AV receiver, DAB radio, iPod or whatever, and it beams the stereo signal digitally to the receiver, which is connected to a pair of speakers in the desired position up to 20m away from the transmitter. Because the receiver has a built-in amplifier, the speakers you connect do not need to be active (powered) – you can connect any passive speakers you like.
The RS 4 WLT transmitter sports a single set of analogue cinch line inputs on the back, which allows you to connect your audio device. This is the only input, so piping signals to the unit digitally is out of the question. In a home cinema setup, where you’re using the RearStation 4 to drive the rear speakers, these would be connected to the surround pre-outs on the back of your AV receiver. Also found on the back of the transmitter are two switches, one that lets you choose between three different RF channels, which helps avoid interference from other wireless devices (obviously both the receiver and transmitter need to be set to the same channel), and the other to activate the Auto On mode.
On the back of the RS 4 WLR receiver are two pairs of plastic binding posts for each speaker, providing a sturdy connection with the speaker cables, which sit alongside the channel selection switch.
It would be ironic if a product designed to keep things discreet stood out like a sore thumb, but thankfully both the transmitter and receiver are immensely attractive, and should therefore slip into your setup with minimal aesthetic disruption. Key to their allure is the sleek gloss-black finish and compact dimensions. The transmitter is the smaller of the two, measuring a slinky 11(w) x 3.2(h) x 8.6(d)cm, while the receiver measures 12.5(w) x 4.2(h) x 18(d)cm and looks like an external HDD. They also boast reasonable build quality, although their plastic casing makes them a tad light and hollow-sounding when tapped.
On the front panels, you’ll find a smattering of buttons embedded among the ventilation holes. The receiver features buttons for turning the volume up and down, with a Mute button sandwiched between them. The transmitter simply features a power button. Both units feature an LED on the right-hand side that glows blue in operation, but glows red when there’s no connection.