- Maintains superb rear-channel sound quality
- Stylish, compact design
- Easy to install
- Slightly lightweight build quality
- Doesn?t like being pushed with music
- Review Price: £269.00
- 20m range
- Works in up to three zones
- Remote control
- Binding posts for speaker cables
- Auto On mode
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.
(centre)”’The RS 4 WLT transmitter”’(/centre)
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.
(centre)”’The rear of the RS 4 WLT transmitter”’(/centre)
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.(centre)”’The RS 4 WLR receiver”’(/centre)
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.(centre)”’The rear of the RS 4 WLR receiver”’(/centre)
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.
Being such a simple device, there aren’t a great deal of features to talk about. The Class D amplifier inside the receiver unit musters 2 x 30W, which isn’t hugely powerful but should be enough to make surround effects audible.
The unit comes with a small remote, which provides a convenient way of changing the volume and turning the devices on or off. The credit card sized zapper is a little bit fiddly but keeps things simple with only a few blister buttons – volume up and down, on and off, mute and three buttons for switching zones.
These buttons come into play when you are streaming audio to more than one RS4 WLR receiver. Expansion kits containing a receiver and remote cost £179, and you can add up to two extra receivers. A single transmitter can feed all of the receivers but you can still control the volume and power settings of each receiver independently as they have their own controls on the front. You can switch between zones using the dedicated A, B and C buttons on the remote.
The transmitter unit features an ‘Auto On’ mode, which activates it when it detects an audio signal. There are two sensitivity settings for this, -50dB and -60dB, as well as an off setting. Elsewhere you can adjust the impedance to match that of your speakers. The default is 4 ohm but you can change this to 6 or 8 ohm by holding down the volume button and pressing one of the ‘zone’ buttons on the remote.
It’s also worth noting that the system delays the sound signal by 20ms, which could adversely affect the timing of surround effects when watching movies. You’ll need to adjust the distance or delay settings within your AV receiver to correct it.
We first rigged up the RearStation 4 receiver to the rear speakers of our Teufel Theater 3 system, and connected the rear pre-outs on the Onkyo TX-NR807 receiver to the transmitter unit. The units locked into each other immediately and maintained a consistently robust connection.
When playing ”Avatar” on Blu-ray, the movie’s rear channel effects sound crisp and forthright. With the receiver’s own volume turned up almost to the max, the sound rarely distorts or lapses into harshness with up-front effects like machine gun fire or screeching Pandoran creatures. During the Assault on Home Tree scene, the sound of hovering helicopters is full-bodied while the hissing gas canisters are sharp but smooth on the ear.
During quieter scenes, the RearStation 4 perfectly preserves all the rear-channel detail of the intricate DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, allowing our rear speakers to deliver a deft, sensitive performance. During the Na’vi ‘mating’ scene in chapter 19, the chirping insects, whispering voices and the subtle score are clearly audible.
The only slight issue is that the 2 x 30W power output of the receiver doesn’t quite match up to the superior power of our AV receiver, causing a bit of an imbalance when you’re listening at loud volumes, but it doesn’t greatly lessen the excitement and energy of busy action scenes.
We also played some stereo music on our CD player connected to the same AV receiver, with the same speakers connected to the receiver unit, and the results are impressive. ”Rolling In The Deep” by Adele sounds warm and full-bodied, with crisp top-end detail and a smooth reproduction of Adele’s amazing voice. It didn’t like being pushed to its maximum volume, distorting badly when we did so, but kept at a reasonable level the RearStation 4 does a good job with music.
The RearStation 4 is a terrific solution for anyone who has had enough of cables littering their living room. Its ability to beam movie surround channels and two-channel music up to 20m away without greatly compromising the sound quality is impressive, plus the gloss-black styling, built-in amplifier and easy setup allow it to slot into your home with minimum fuss.
But as well-made and reliable as it is, we think £269 (plus £179 for extra receivers) is steep – it doesn’t do anything spectacularly brilliant to justify this mammoth price tag. For this sort of money Teufel is straying into territory occupied by wireless music streaming devices from the likes of Philips, Sonos and Logitech. Similar wireless kits designed for Panasonic, Samsung and Sony’s all-in-one systems cost around £100, and although these are only intended for use with a particular system, it does give you an idea of how expensive the RearStation 4 is.
Score in detail
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