Gadgets arap50

Published on April 6th, 2014 | by Greg


Acoustic Research Wireless Airplay Speaker: Inexpensive, But Only OK

Wireless audio systems have become one of the most popular categories of items that we look at, regularly drawing a ton of interest from readers and with more and more companies hopping into the playing field. Many of them use the very popular, widely supported Bluetooth, which offers some advantages and some downsides over other types of wireless transmission. But for multi-room audio from iOS devices, Apple’s Airplay is a solid, easy to use format with better range though it does require a router/wifi network.

The Acoustic Research ARAP50 Wireless Audio System with AirPlay is a 20-watt stereo system built with Apple users in mind. It offers only basic features- no remote control, not even an auxiliary 3.5mm headphone input, though it does have a USB port to allow you to charge your devices while you play. And the box looks fairly nondescript- it’s certainly no Luna Eclipse Bluetooth that we recently looked at- but it’s black will blend in to most areas. Made to sit on a desk or side table and not take up much space, it won’t fill a living room with sound, but is fine for adding an extra speaker for your smaller bedroom or office or even kitchen.

That said, we were divided on it’s utility, and largely because of the price. At the official MSRP of $199, it’s a very poor performer, outclassed by most other speakers in that range, some of which offer docks, or portability, and almost all of which offer better (and louder) sound. But online right now, we were able to find the system at a much lower price, and it then becomes a better value- one of the least expensive Airplay sets we’ve seen. Now, we did have some technical issues- some drop-outs- but we’ve face them even on top-of-the-line Airplay sets like the Bowers and Wilkins A7. Router configuration does help, as did updating the firmware on the ARAP50.

We liked the built-in controls, though they aren’t fancy, they were more responsive than the often-finicky touch sensitive controls on other systems. As mentioned, audio quality is noting to boast about- there wasn’t a lot of low end, and we did hear some notable distortion on higher frequencies. Certainly, it’s perfectly adequate for pop and rock music, but didn’t impress. That said, if you’re in need of an basic Airplay speaker, it’s hard to find a cheaper option than this one, available now online for under $60!

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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