gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Auna Mini19B Wireless Speakers Reviewed

Perhaps it’s some mystifying force attached to my love of music, or simply just fortune, or misfortune, but I tend to end up reviewing an awful lot of speakers. I wouldn’t be so bitter about this if I weren’t buried in them and quietly sobbing to myself about my broken and dilapidated (although still awesome sounding) Roland RH300 headphones.

But, before I digress into a diatribe of first-world problems, I’m here to talk about a set of wireless hi fi speakers from the guys over at who kindly got in touch and introduced me to their in-house brand Auna.

The Auna Mini 19B wireless speakers are possibly the first set of speakers I’ve reviewed, probably ever, which are wireless in the more conventional, non-bluetooth sense. I’m talking about RF, of course. That old chestnut of back-to-basics, easy to set up audio transmission that has been around more or less since we started passing electricity through wires.

Strictly speaking the Auna Mini 19B use UHF (Ultra High Frequency RF), and offer a choice of two channels on the 863Mhz band. This is good, because they’re not likely to interfere with household telephones or wifi, but as an audio purist the idea of sending beautiful, sweet music ( read: farty awful dubstep ) down anything but good old reliable wires just doesn’t sit well with me.

My hangups with wireless aren’t entirely unjustified, either. The Auna Mini 19B don’t really sound all that great. They’re passable, they get audio from A to B, and they do it wirelessly with very little effort. But they sound distant, muddy and just generally low quality, a far cry from pretty much anything I’ve tested before. It’s hard to tell if the lack of sound fidelity is the fault of the speakers themselves, or a side-effect of the sound being transmitted over-the-air. I’m tempted to guess it’s the latter simply because speakers, even terrible ones, don’t tend to sound quite like the Auna wireless speakers do. They don’t sound altogether bad, just flat, dull and uninspiring.

To be fair, though, the Auna 19B are designed with outdoor use in mind, whether you’re providing a spot of ambient music to prevent a barbecue chef dying of boredom, chilling out on your garden furniture or have somehow found a pool in a British garden, they serve this purpose extremely well. Admittedly I haven’t tested them outdoors, though, because it’s absolutely freezing- clearly the British weather system hasn’t figured out that it’s late March yet. I see the Auna 19B as handy in an office, too, where the music is kept low, and needs to be well spread out to prevent people getting irritated by repetitive sounds on the edge of their hearing.

My more major gripe with the Auna are their european origin, not because I have something against Europe, but because the Mini 19B came with three european power adaptors and only one EU to UK converter. The upshot of this is that, were I not a geek in possession of more power adaptors than you could shake a flail at, only 1 out of three of the devices would be powered from mains. Arguably one of the touted benefits of these speakers is that they’re portable, and indeed they are. But this portability comes at the price of 12 AA batteries. 6 in each speaker. That’s a lot of batteries, and it’s in cases like this that an internal, rechargeable power supply wouldn’t go amis. It doesn’t help that the battery doors are located on the bottom of the speakers, and have a habit of unscrewing themselves either.

When it comes down to using them, the Auna 19B are an absolute breeze to set up. They “just work”, which is great if you, like me, are tired of ceaselessly pairing a glut of devices to various bluetooth speakers throughout your daily routine of trolling the office with concealed speakers and animal noises. Each speaker has independent volume control, optional clichéd blue lighting and a “scan” button which will hop between channels.

Aesthetically they’re not terrible, but I feel they’re a little dated. It’s mostly the buttons which look strangely out of place on the front, with their microwave-like feel. Despite the over use of blue LEDs I find it extremely hard to dislike them and really couldn’t suggest a better colour for such a product.

The base-unit is compact enough. Surprisingly it has a 3.5mm jack cabled into it, which is a curious choice given the various scenarios and resulting various cable-lengths the speaker might find its way into, but not really a problem. There’s an adaptor for RCA connections so you can, indeed, use these with your Hi-Fi or Mini System to expand its reach into another room, or just the corners of a large existing room.

Ultimately the Auna 19B work best pumping out ambient music at a low volume to avoid taxing them too much. If this is what you’re looking for; ie you’re not obsessed with playing terrible music at questionably hazardous volumes like I am, then you’ll probably appreciate these.

If you’re a self-proclaimed audiofile, to any degree, then avoid these and run some cables under your carpet. It’s not hard, and you wont need to find batteries or mains sockets. If you are looking for something to spread music around an office or a garden, I think you’ll find they do the trick.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, Featured, Home Entertainment.