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Three Bluetooth Device Review - Pendulumic Stance S1 Wireless Headphone, Audioengine B1 Premium Bluetooth Music Receiver, Miccus Mini-jack TX4 Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Music Transmitter


Pendulumic Stance S1 Headphone: $199
Audioengine B1 Receiver: $189
Miccus Mini-jack TX4 Transmitter: $65

by Wayne Myers


Wireless technology has been edging its way into the world of high fidelity audio more and more in recent years. Bluetooth, with its recent aptX extensions, appears destined to take its place as a truly hi-fi wireless option. And when one has tripped over and stepped on as many wires and cables as I have over the years, a technology that can reduce cabling without sacrificing audio quality will at least get a thorough tryout.

This review covers three Bluetooth products which could find their way into an audio or home theater enthusiast's setup. We will cover the Pendulumic Stance S1 Wireless Headphone, the Audioengine B1 Premium Bluetooth Music Receiver, and the Miccus Mini-jack TX4 Wireless Bluetooth 4.0 Music Transmitter. All three are Bluetooth 4.0 devices and include aptX capability, which promises to deliver CD-quality sound. One of the three, the TX4 transmitter, is also Low-Latency capable.

High Fidelity Comes To Bluetooth

There are many profiles defined for Bluetooth, having to do with hardware form factors, data, and application types. The most common profile one will run across when discussing audio is A2DP, the basic stereo profile. Any Bluetooth product involving stereo sound makes use of this profile. The quality level is similar to a high-bitrate MP3, or the AC3 encoding that is part of the original Dolby standard. Lossy compression algorithms are employed to determine what parts of the audio signal can be thrown away to reduce the data rate while keeping the sound quality pretty much the same. "Pretty much" is the key idea here. The compression algorithms are designed around psychoacoustical principles to be transparent, but given the right equipment, program material, and a little guidance, almost any listener with healthy hearing can pick out the degradation that results.

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