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At first glance, it would be easy to wonder why a product like the Audioengine B-Fi exists in 2020—don’t most mobile devices now easily stream via Bluetooth to most speakers, multimedia streaming boxes, and newer televisions? Plenty do, but the $189 B-Fi is for gear, be it your home stereo or powered, non-wireless speakers, that lacks streaming functionality. Those familiar with the identically priced Audioengine B1, will recognize the B-Fi as, essentially, the Wi-Fi version of the Bluetooth B1. Its simplicity is perhaps its best selling point; within minutes, you can be streaming to speakers that lack wireless functionality over AirPlay or the Audioengine app, and the B-Fi will ensure the stream’s excellent sonic quality.
Measuring 1 by 3.5 by 3-inches (HWD), with an antenna that extends 2.8 inches beyond the top panel when fully upright, the B-Fi is a tiny, unassuming box. You connect it to your wireless network via the Audioengine Connect app, and physically connect the ports on the back to your stereo gear over RCA stereo or optical. An RCA cable is included, but not an optical cable, which is a bummer. A status LED on the front lets you know when you’re connected or not—it’s also a button you press to initiate the wireless connection process.
The back panel also houses a connection for the included 5V power supply. The B-Fi employs an AP8064 ARM processor, and for digital-to-analog conversion, it utilizes the ES9023 DAC.
The free Audioengine Control app establishes a Wi-Fi connection with the B-Fi via your mobile device’s menu. Once this connection is made, you choose which wireless network you want the B-Fi to stream over, and then you can name the system if you wish. You can group multiple B-Fi units together, or independently assign different ones to different speaker systems within your wireless network.
The app controls are simple and spare, letting you adjust volume and left/right balance (for stereo connections). Within the app, tapping on your system’s name accesses your phone’s locally stored music, as well as services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal. The app is graceful and even features a cool spinning record graphic that incorporates the album art for whatever is playing—the rare design touch in an app that enhances the visual experience.
The B-Fi is compatible with AirPlay, DLNA, and UPnP streaming. Once you name the streamer, it’ll appear in the AirPlay menu of available speakers when you tap its icon on your iOS or macOS device. Interestingly, there’s no support for AirPlay 2—Audioengine decided that the multiroom grouping functionality already built-in to the B-Fi via its app was sufficient…
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