I love my Apple TV. Not just because of the video it allows me to watch, but the music it lets me play from our iPhones or Macs using Airplay.
I really want whole-house audio (a la Sonos, without the ridiculous cost) and Apple's Airplay can help me do that.
I have a bunch of high-quality stereo speakers from a variety of sources (PC speakers, home stereos, etc.) that I can place all over my house, but the only way that I can get whole-house audio is to purchase and install an Apple TV in every room while outputting audio to each via the TOS (optical) audio connector on the Apple TV.
But I really don't want to spend $99 per room to make this happen - plus an additional $30 for a TOSLink adapter for each set of these analog speakers.
I got to thinking: how small can Airplay device really get? Maybe someone makes one?
So, I started trawling the Interwebs and here's what I found: nothing. (At least as far as Airplay goes.)
What I did find was a product in the form factor that I wanted, but one that uses Bluetooth instead of Airplay.
It's called the WaveJamr from RadTech.
It offers point-to-point connectivity, so it's not ideal for whole-house audio, but it does make for some interesting wireless, A2DP audio solutions using a standard Apple 30-pin dock connector.
After reading all about it, I got even more excited: what if I could use it to get rid of the wires in my 2007 Mini Cooper with the (completely outdated) iPod Connection Kit?
So, I contacted Ryan and Zach at RadTech and asked if they knew if it would work with my car.
Of course, with the bazillions of iPod Connection Kits in the marketplace, there's no way that they could test all of them, so I offered to do it for them. (At least as far as my Mini Cooper was concerned.)
After receiving it yesterday, I wanted to immediately see it in action, so I started with my iHome alarm clock/speaker system.
Pairing with the WaveJamr is ridiculously easy, but the iHome device was a little persnickety. It expects to get feedback from an iPhone or iPod and it wasn't getting it from the WaveJamr. After connecting my iPhone 4S and selecting "iPod" as the input, then connecting the WaveJamr, it worked great.
The sound quality was amazing with none of the noise you expect from other line-in solutions. It worked perfectly, just as described.
Next, I took a walk outside to my 2007 Mini Cooper. (My wife calls it Clark. Like Clark Kent, it's mild-mannered until you activate its Superman powers. ;) )
You can see my current setup here: a ProClip USA iPhone car mount, a USB car charger, a standard Apple 30-pin dock cable and a standard 1/8" audio jack that plugs-in to the auxiliary audio jack of my Mini Cooper.
For a couple of years, I thought that the 1/8" cable had a bad connector on the iPod side but as it turns out, it's a problem with my auxiliary audio connector. Of course, I didn't discover this until the car was out-of-warranty. (Newman!)
So, when I saw the WaveJamr, I thought it would be a great way to get rid of the noise that I frequently get from the Aux connector using RadTech's pure wireless digital audio solution.
If you've never seen the dash of a Mini Cooper, this isn't just a dashboard, but a secret James Bond-like compartment (cue music) and is typically where your Mini dealer will mount your iPod Car Connection Kit.
I immediately connected the WaveJamr to the built-in iPod connector with no results - no sound and no appearance in the Bluetooth setting screen of my iPhone 4S.
To start troubleshooting, I connected the WaveJamr to the 30-pin cable that I usually use to power my iPhone and sure enough, the WaveJamr came up in the Bluetooth settings in my iPhone but of course, there was no sound since there isn't a line-out to my auxiliary audio connector.
I reconnected it the iPod Connection Kit hoping for a result. Nothing.
Just to be sure that the iPod Connection Kit was working properly, I plugged-in my iPhone which resulted in this error.
Obviously, the power requirements of an iPhone 4S are much greater than an iPod or the other iPhones that I've connected to this interface to date.
So, what are my options?
I'm going to buy one of RadTech's prescient ProCable 30-pin Dock-to-USB + 3.5mm Stereo cables. At $24, the cost stings a bit but at least it's available in Black. I'll tuck it away in the compartment near the auxiliary audio jack in my Mini Cooper and forget about the auxiliary connector forever.
As for the rest of the house, I'll buy a WaveJamr + ProCable for my dining room, my porch and my deck and have the ability to deliver wireless digital audio from our iPhone or Macs with the push of a simulated button under glass.
If you have Bluetooth A2DP audio on your smartphone (iPhone, Android, whatevs) or laptop and want perfectly clear, crisp wireless digital audio for your 30-pin or other audio device with a 1/8" connector, you can't beat the RadTech WaveJamr.
Just keep in mind that some testing may be required - it might not work with older iPod Connection Kits like those in the 2007-era (R56) Mini Cooper.
Recommendation: BUY, with the above mentioned caveats.
Here's another good reason to get yourself a WaveJamr or similar product:
If you're like me and use a car mount for your iPhone, there's a good chance that your iPhone 5 will fit your existing mount - that's the good news.
The bad news? If you use a ProClip mount like I do, you're going to have a problem because the audio Jack on the iPhone 5 is now on the bottom of the device.
The ProClip mount won't provide access for the attachment of an 1/8" cable on the bottom.
There are two things to consider in this situation: timing and cost.
First, it will probably take ProClip a while to release a mount for the iPhone 5 so you'll have to wait. Second, the mount will probably cost more than the WaveJamr anyway!
You might as well go wireless and not have to deal with the hassle of replacing your ProClip mount.
There is no bad news. ;)
It looks like there will be enough clearance on the existing ProClip iPhone mount to insert the 1/8" cable into the headphone jack. If you have an existing mount and an iPhone 5, let me know if it works.
If you don't already own a ProClip mount, I highly recommend them.
Over the years, I've used them in a:
- Volvo S40
- Volkswagen Passat
- Mini Cooper
...with these devices:
- iPod mini
- iPod with video
- Palm Treo 650
- Palm Treo 700
- iPhone 3
- iPhone 3G
- iPhone 3Gs
- iPhone 4
- iPhone 4S
The ProClip mount for the iPhone 5 is now available for Pre-Order ($34.99 USD).