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Creative Sound Blaster Wireless for iTunes + Receiver review

Creative Sound Blaster Wireless for iTunes + Receiver
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £103
inc VAT

Creative's Sound Blaster Wireless works surprisingly well and is cheaper, although not as neat, as a standalone audio streamer.

Creative’s Sound Blaster Wireless allows you to stream audio wirelessly from your computer to any set of speakers. The kit consists of a transmitter that plugs into your computer via USB and a receiver that you can connect to any amplifier or speakers with 3.5mm or stereo phono inputs. The kit works with any Windows program, not just iTunes, as the name suggests.

Once the driver was installed on our Vista laptop, the transmitter and receiver paired instantly. We used a pair of Logitech X-230 speakers and didn’t notice any substantial difference in sound quality whether they were connected directly using a 3.5mm cable or wirelessly.

We didn’t have any trouble using the kit with iTunes, Spotify, VLC, YouTube or Windows Media Player and it successfully played audio from a H.264 video without losing audio-video sync. The Sound Blaster Wireless uses the same 2.4GHz wireless frequency as most WiFi networks, but we didn’t experience any interference or drop outs in the Expert Reviews office, which has multiple wireless networks. In our tests, music played clearly when our laptop was up to 25m away from our speakers.

The USB transmitter is also a sound card, so it supports Creative’s EAX technology, which can make sound effects sound more immersive in games that support them such as BioShock. It also has headphone and microphone ports so you don’t need to disconnect it to use a mic or earphones. The transmitter’s fold away aerial feels fragile and, although it’s not especially bulky, it could foul some closely spaced USB ports. The cap is attached by a string, so you’re unlikely to use it.

If you buy additional kits, multiple receivers can be paired with the same transmitter so audio can be streamed to multiple speakers simultaneously. Creative’s software allows you to pick and choose which specific receivers will receive your audio transmission but they must all receive the same audio transmission. This means you can’t, for example, play a song in one room and an internet radio station in another.

A remote control is included which has volume and playback controls. The volume controls worked with every application we tried, but the playback controls are only compatible with Windows Media Player and iTunes.

On the face of it, the Sound Blaster appears quite expensive. Apple’s AirPort Express lets you stream music from iTunes around your house and is cheaper. However, a remote control costs extra (unless you have an iPod touch or iPhone and the free remote software), and it only streams music from iTunes without third-party software, which brings the price up to a similar level.

Considering that the Creative Sound Blaster Wireless for iTunes also includes a dedicated soundcard, works with all audio and is cheaper than a standalone audio streaming device, it’s great value if you want to use your PC to stream music around your home. Those on a budget that only care about streaming the audio and don’t want a remote can buy Lindy’s USB Wireless Audio for £45.