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TechnologyTell Review: D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender

Sections: Audio, Reviews, Speakers, Streaming

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If you own a non-wireless speaker and have been wondering if you’ve been missing out, you have. Seriously, wireless is the way to go, especially with such choice of mobile audio streaming. But not everyone is ready and willing to toss out money and replace a perfectly good speaker. I wouldn’t, especially a high-quality favorite. Luckily, there’s a market of wireless adapters to provide that feature on the cheap.

Now you can go straight for wireless connectivity, or you can one-up it with an added element. D-Link has just the device that combines a wireless audio adapter with a network range extender. Internet dead zones can be eliminated, and you can stream to your best speaker system anywhere in the home.

Design & Connectivity

The D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender (DCH-M225) is a two-in-one type of gadget. Half the function is a wireless range extender with the other half providing an audio jack to hook speakers to. Simple. The design itself is also simple, being that there is only one button to operate and no power cable either. Just plug the entire device into an outlet, and that’s it! The white, compact body blends in with wall socket plates pretty well. It’s inconspicuous, which I like.

D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender port

Tiny, simple, convenient.

The concept of setting up the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender is meant to be easy. Just plug it in within close range of your home network, press the WPS button on your wireless router, then press the single WPS button on the audio extender, and finally wait for the LED to glow a solid green. Within a minute, you’ll be free to unplug and move the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender wherever you desire. That’s exactly how it happened for me with SureWest’s (now Consolidated Communications) network equipment. Textbook operation.

But once I had switched to AT&T cable (over a week later), my experience with the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender was quite the opposite. Even after resetting the unit, it never wanted to perform this magical connection process. Not even after repeat attempts. The included manual directs how one can login with a web browser and modify settings. My Windows XP desktop rejected this method, playing dumb at what I was trying to accomplish. I should have just gone with using the Windows 8.1 laptop in the first place.

Setting up through a web browser doesn’t take that long. It might seem a little tedious, but it’s the very direct way that also lets you modify a few things (if so desired). And, of course, if you ever end up making a mistake, just find something slender and pointy to hit the reset button on the device. It works, and it’s not too bad once you’ve gone through it a few times.

The D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender shows up as a second network within the house. I (now) prefer it that way. When I had set it up to match my existing home network information, everything stopped working. Devices would connect, but no data would go through. As soon as I reset the extender and set it up with its own separate name, everything was fine again.

Performance

For streaming audio, the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender does exactly what it’s supposed to do. I plugged it right in to my receiver, opened up my BubbleUPnP app for Android, and started playing music right away. It couldn’t get any easier than that. I haven’t experienced any disconnects while streaming audio, and music sounds just as if I were to plug directly in with a cable. Adding wireless capability to a non-wireless speaker has been a great success.

D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender outlet

Stick it on the bottom to leave the top socket open.

With proper placement, the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender can boost range by about 40 feet or so. It can be more or less, depending on the type of building material it has to pass through. But for the most part I’ve been able to enjoy a two-bar boost of wireless strength on my smartphone. If I plug the audio extender in the socket right next to the door leading to the backyard, which is toward the edge of my router’s reach, I get coverage in the shade. Specifically, I can now chill under a canopy of wisteria while reading web content or streaming online video from Adult Swim. The 1-2 bars I get in that spot gives me enough speed to enjoy what I want.

I’ve had up to 6 devices streaming internet through it at the same time with no problems or conflicts. It was a mixture of light and moderate use across various mobile devices. While it didn’t tax the extent of what the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender could handle, the test was fair for everyday-use situations. There hadn’t been any complaints, which is always a plus in my book.

Despite how well the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender has worked, it’s not without some quirks. Namely, I’ve found that plugging and unplugging the unit is a requirement every couple of weeks. Give or take a few days. For whatever reason, of which I haven’t been able to identify, the device stops functioning. Everything appears to be fine – power, connection, and all – but no data goes through. No internet. No audio. Nada. It’s only a minor inconvenience for me, since the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender is easy to access. This is not likely to hold true for everyone.

Verdict

Once the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender (DCH-M225) is up and running, you’ll be glad to have it. The overall performance is as expected with only a few minor hiccups. This device is very convenient, since no power cables are required. Just find a socket, plug it in, and set up as needed. Things can get a little tricky if you intend to pair it up with a speaker, depending on how long of an audio cable is required.

Not everyone will share the same experience with the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender. Despite how the box indicates a one-touch setup, it may not work exactly that way. Although configuring the extender through a browser feels somewhat unrefined, it carries out what needs to be done. Considering the extent of smartphone/tablet ownership, the lack of a configuration app is a little surprising.

For what it does, the price is right. You can breathe new life into an older speaker by providing wireless streaming, which makes for an inexpensive upgrade. It’s easy to get wireless-envy with all the latest Bluetooth-enabled speakers coming out. Since the D-Link Wi-Fi Audio Extender is quite compact and easy (situationally) to use, it’s a good gadget to have for those that travel. I tend to have that kind of luck, where my hotel room’s dead zones are where I really want to be (e.g. bed, sofa). With this extender, I won’t have to hang out in the hall or the bathtub just to check email.

 

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