Aperion Home Audio Link (HAL) System
Published on February 10, 2010
Aperion Home Audio Link (HAL) System
18151 SW Boones Ferry Road
Portland, Oregon 97224
Wireless transmitter and receiver system with stereo mini-plug/USB input and output with up to 100 foot range; ability to work with up to three receiver units ($70 each); PC or Mac compatible when using the USB connection; 14-bit quality with 48 kHz sampling; S/N 85-91dB; 2.4 GHz transmission frequency; 25.5ms latency; 13/16” H x 1 15/16” W x 1.75” D; 2.7 ounces; one-year warranty.
Krell KAV-300iL Integrated Amplifier, Krell KAV-280cd CD player, NAD 515 CD player, Bowers and Wilkins 703 speakers, Audioquest cables, PC running Windows XP and Foobar 2000 v1.0 software audio player.
From the instructions it seems that the suggested use for this system is with computers, portables and subwoofers. I recently reviewed a wireless system for a computer by Iogear that also transmits video. The Aperion set is less money, works with Macs, and is designed to work with legacy audio components as well. [Logitech briefly offered a similar system which also boasted a headphone jack.] I read through the quickstart guide but this system is so simple to connect that I didn’t really need to. The only thing to do is push the link buttons so the blue lights go solid and the units connect to one another. The system comes with two stereo mini-plug to RCA cables and a stereo miniplug cable (for portable devices). The main send and receive units have very short USB connections (that double as power connections to the separate AC adapters).
I planned to try HAL in a few different systems to gauge its performance. It turned out there were some pluses and minuses.
I first hooked up the send and receive units right next to each other in an attempt to compare directly with the sound of a high quality CD player. It was a bit inconvenient to have to push the link buttons while the units were within inches of the electrical outlet (due to the short connection cords). I also had to stretch to fit the audio cords in as they are only 3 feet long. This could be remedied by getting longer audio cords (if necessary). I got sync within five seconds.
The track I chose was from Jazz for the Quiet Times by Russell Gunn called “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” It has lots of cymbals and high frequency information with a section that gets loud at 53 seconds in. This is where the Aperion started to distort. The loud portions continue and so does the distortion. To eliminate the chance of interference I tried moving the units away from the equipment, but the distortion persisted.
I thought there might be a chance that the output level from the Krell might be above normal so I relocated the Send unit with a NAD CD changer about 25′ away. I had no problem with dropouts or receiving the signal (which synced almost instantly), but the distortion still occurred at the same points in the recording.
The solution would seem to be to reduce output level so HAL could properly encode the signal, but, in most cases this would only be possible with a portable device (that typically offers output level control). With a low level (line) signal for a subwoofer this would be an option, but it would be hard to determine the appropriate level without multiple listening tests.
The next step was to connect the unit to the computer and give it a shot. When I plugged the Send unit into the USB port the normal recognition bubbles come up saying the computer had “Found New Hardware” and did the necessary installation. This only took about 15 seconds. The level was low so I went into the Control Panel, clicked on Sound and Audio Devices Properties and raised the output level. Even at full bore there was no distortion any longer from the same track played through the computer’s CD-ROM.
I switched discs and put on the Verdi CD from Andrea Bocelli, track one. Sound was good and although it didn’t match the quality from the separate CD player it was so close on quick listening that 99% of people would be fine with it. [48K is slightly better than 44.1K, but the 14 bits means it's not quite up to CD quality...Ed.] A bigger issue was the overloading and distortion with legacy devices.
If you are one of those who like to jump to the Conclusion and not read through the entire review, then stop, go back and read it! It is one of the shorter reviews I’ve written and has everything you need to know about this system. For those who insist on a recap in the conclusion: The Send and Receive units transmit a quality signal over a good distance without issues. However, any line level source I tried overloaded the device and caused audible distortion to occur. Therefore, I would only use the Aperion HAL with a computer or a device that allows output level adjustment. It would be great for powering a small audio system with decent speakers across your office from your computer at your desk, free from intervening wires.
– Brian Bloom