REVIEW: Rocketfish Rocketboost Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit

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Name: Rocketfish Rocketboost Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit

Type: Wireless bridge for 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound speakers

Specs: Click here for full specs

Price: £159.99 from Best Buy

review-line.JPGHome cinema kits are all well and good for delivering that booming Hollywood sound, but they also cause more headaches than they’re sometimes worth when it comes to leaving lengthy trails of unsightly wires around the room as you try to set up rear surround speakers. This Best Buy exclusive, the Rocketfish Rocketboost Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit, may however have an affordable answer to your wireless speaker woes.
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Wireless home cinema systems seemed the future for surround sound in the home a few years back, but latency issues, high price tags and overall poor audio quality has made them on the whole somewhat rare relics these days. That’s not to say that the demand for wireless speakers has declined, which is where the Rocketfish solution comes in.

The Rocketfish Rocketboost Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit (AKA the RF-RBKIT ) is made up of a sender and a stereo amp receiver, which Best Buy also sell as separately with the model number RF-RBREC.

Essentially, the two units create a wireless bridge between your home cinema receiver and the rear surround channels. Hookup the Rocketboost sender to the terminal posts in your AV receiver and switch both on after connecting the rear speakers themselves to the powered Rocketboost receiver at the rear of your viewing area. After a quick and painless pairing procedure, you’re 5.1 surround speakers are blaring out audio without being directly connected to the main AV receiver you already own.

Now of course, this isn’t truly wireless speaker territory here; you still need a power supply for the rear channel Rocketboost receiver, not to mention speaker cabling too. But what you are removing is the pain of running lengthy wires from the front of your home cinema gear to the rear of the 5.1 soundscape. You no longer have to hide leads under carpets, or pin them to the edge of skirting boards, instead just hiding it all instead (in what we’d assume is the usual viewing environment) behind the sofa.

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that there’d be a considerable audio quality drop as a result of using such a system, but the undesirable effects are extremely minuscule. Set the sender to “HD” mode for Blu-ray flicks and you’re still getting Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD system audio with latency issues so minimal you’d have to be a bat (or the most demanding of audiophiles) to notice the difference. Audio is sent across the wireless bridge at 16-bits, 48 KHz, uncompressed PCM audio, and with the RF-RBREC being a 50W x 2 (into 6 ohms) amp, it’ll pump out audio at a healthy level with great calrity. Grab another RF-RBREC unit and you’re good to go for 7.1 surround, with a handy channel-lock switch setting the gain levels from each separate amp equally for a balanced sound.

The only potential issue is that each unit uses the 2.4GHz wireless channel, a pretty crowded frequency that tends to be interfered with easily by microwaves and cordless telephones. Though we had no issues during our testing, it’s a problem that may rear its head in other households.

Overall it’s a relatively simple concept that works very well, but the potential for the Rocketfish gear doesn’t end there. The wireless audio line is fleshed out further by a handful of other products that you can pair with the Starter Kit and each other to create a full wireless audio network.

For starters, there’s the RF-RBWS02 speaker. Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, it’s a bi-amplified speaker with both woofer and tweeters, rated at 22 Watts. Working as a standalone mono speaker, you can add another RF-RBWS02 and pair the two together for true stereo sound, receiving audio from any source connected to your newly-set up Rocketfish wireless network. They’ll work from an AC power supply or from batteries. They’re not reference-grade speakers, but offer a surprising punch, especially when in a pair as we heard at a preview event earlier in the year, and make for a particularly effective audio solution for barbecues and parties spilling outside.

The RF-RBWS02 speakers come packaged with the RBAUX wireless audio sender/receiver, which itself can also be bought individually. It can take line input stereo and transmit it wirelessly, but also has a line output, allowing it to serve a “Zone B” powered speaker system by pairing it with the RBKIT sender, or serve as a loop back to the line input.

If you’ve got the dough, your home can be turned into a wireless audio workhorse with the Rocketfish gear.

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Verdict:

OK, so the “wireless” part of the Rocketboost kit might be a bit of a fib as technically you’re going to need power and speaker cables for your surround channels. But the flexibility and scalability of the Rocketboost range is excellent, and comes as a highly recommended alternative to snaking lengthy cabling across your living room.

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4/5

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Gerald Lynch

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