Playing music in multiple rooms shouldn't be the privilege of the fabulously wealthy. Intellitouch's Eos Digital Wireless Audio System is aimed squarely at the rest of us, with an entry price of $249 for a base station and one wireless speaker. You can connect up to three more speakers for $129 each, though unlike more expensive systems like those from Sonos--which run upward of $900--you can't control the speakers independently, and they all play the same tune.
Setup and Design
Getting started couldn't be easier with the Eos (available in black and white). Because all the parts are wireless, all you need to do is plug each unit in. The base station is the size of a classic toaster (10 x 9 x 7 inches), with a ported 3-inch subwoofer on the bottom and 1-inch drivers on either side of a dock that works with any dock connector-equipped iPod or iPhone. (The iPhone goes into Airplane mode, so you won't receive calls.)
The glossy black plastic chassis has a silver grille and chrome accents, and a small antenna protrudes from the top. On the base are large buttons for Volume, Source, and Mute, as well as wireless broadcast on/off. A row of four blue LEDs show how many speakers are connected. Line-in and Power jacks are on the back, plus a Range EX switch that minimizes spectrum interference so the system's 2.4-GHz wireless range to 150 feet may be achieved. However, activating Range EX introduces a slight but noticeable delay between the satellite speakers and those on the base station.
Each wireless speaker measures 7 x 6 x 4 inches and has the same antenna and drivers as the base station, as well as a ported subwoofer on the back. The AC adapter detaches from the back (which takes some elbow grease), and a knob on top turns the speaker on and adjusts volume. The infrared remote has large blister buttons for Play/Pause, Track Skip, Volume, and Mute; unfortunately, you can't use it to activate or adjust volume on the wireless speakers, as it only works with the base station.
Eos' Sound Quality and Range
In general, the sound from the speakers was very crisp and clear, thanks partly to SRS WOW enhancement and GigaWave digital wireless audio transmitter, though it degraded quickly above moderate volume. Compared with theGriffin Evolve, the Eos has better sound quality in the mids and highs (neither device has much bass).
Audiophiles will find some nits to pick with this system. On REM's "Hollow Man" (from Accelerate), Michael Stipe's voice gets buried in the guitar-heavy parts, though James Jamerson's electric bass on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" came through fine. Acoustic jazz like Sonny Rollins's Saxophone Colossus sounded very shrill, with overemphasized highs.
We got a perfectly clear signal everywhere in our 700 square-foot apartment (the Eos is rated to work in a 4000-square-foot space), with no interference when we placed a speaker in front of a running microwave or next to our iPhone while a call came in. The range of the wireless remote, however, was a disappointing 10 feet.
We wish the speakers had rechargeable batteries, and centralized control or multistreaming would be killer. Compared with the Griffin Evolve, the Eos has better sound quality in the mids and highs (neither device has much bass). If you want more flexible control and a better remote, you'll have to pay a good deal more for the Sonos.