If you want to send your DJ controller or mixer’s output to a pair of speakers where it’s impractical to run cables, for instance when DJing outdoors or setting up a mobile DJ rig where your speakers are a long way from your console, Dillinger Labs’ Dani transmitter and Streetheart receiver offer a reliable, capable way of doing so, with relatively low latency, high audio quality, and long battery life. The units also give plenty of flexibility for other uses, too. Not a budget solution, but for pros, a complete one.
First Impressions / Setting up
The Dillinger Labs Dani transmitter and Streetheart receiver offer a rechargeable, battery-powered pro wireless solution for running audio without cables, which in the DJ world, would be ideal for replacing long XLR or TRS cable runs. There’s no Bluetooth or WiFi here – instead, its a proprietary low or very low latency tech called SKAA Pro/SKAA (19ms or 36ms respectively), with a claim of “up to 50m” indoors (ie more than enough for DJs in practically any conceivable circumstances).
It’s high-quality audio too, with Burr Brown input buffers and DACs, and a promise of 20Hz to 20kHz, 48kHz, 480kbps audio quality – something we tested of course and will report on later.
The units are very similar in looks, indeed seemingly identical at first glance. They’re palm-sized angular metal boxes with controls recessed at each end, and a small aerial, plus big chunky feet. A big “T” and R” remind you which is the transmitter and which is the receiver (which as I say is not totally obvious at first glance).
Both units have a USB-C charging slot, four-way LED battery level indicators, and 30-step volume controls with push function used for “linking or bonding” the units among other things, plus a few switches and other LEDs.
The Dani transmitter has two combo balanced/unbalanced mono TRS inputs for dual mono/stereo transmission, with Thru outputs, plus three-way Pad switches (-6 to -12dB) and a level switch (-10 and +4dB). That means you can plug in everything from consumer audio to loud DJ mixers, and easily set up a “hybrid” system with, say, wired speakers by the console using the “thru” sockets, and wireless back of room using the Dani/Streetheart combo.
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The Streetheart receiver has four balanced mono TRS outputs giving two stereo or four mono outputs. The bottom sockets are the “main” outputs that can feed balanced or unbalanced cables, meanwhile the balanced-only top set of sockets have extra functions including a Pad switch (-6dB or -12dB), and the ability to flip them into two stereo or dual-mono headphones outputs – a feature that’s really of use for studio set-ups rather than for DJs.
These units are battery powered, with built-in rechargeable (and replaceable – great!) batteries. They charge via a USB-C socket on each (quick charging if the USB-C power feed is 2A or more), and once charged, you get 14 hours out of them – which would be plenty and then some for most people.
To set up, you position the transmitter so the aerial is vertical and the unit is nice and high up, then turn on your transmitter by holding the on button. Triple-clicking switches between SKAA 36 ms latency mode and SKAA Pro 19 ms (you’ll want to engage the latter). You then plug your DJ controller or mixer’s output into the Dani’s inputs – they are balanced TRS, so if your output is XLR you’ll need the correct balanced XLR to TRS cables. Or you can just plug in unbalanced audio via RCA-to-TS cable, which would work fine in most cases too (the input sockets will take either type).
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For pro DJ gear you’ll set the level input to +4dB, then you have -6bB or -12dB attenuators (“pad”) switches to further fine tune the signal, but basically you’ll want a nice loud signal all the way through, which you can adjust using the volume control knob.
Next, the receiver. Again, high up with the aerial vertical is best, positioning-wise. You’ll need to “bond” the units (it’s a simple button press job, although there are loads of ways of setting up complex systems, all detailed in the manual). Once that’s done, and you’re playing music, you’ll see the “signal” light flashing to confirm this. There’s a volume control on the Streetheart but you can’t “clip” it – the signal LED just flashes green to show you it’s working.
On the receiver, the “main” outputs are the lower ones, which is where you’ll typically plug in the balanced cables that head off to your powered speakers or amps and speakers, and you’re good to go.
Really, what you want with a system like this is for it to get out of your way and be forgettable – and it does that pretty admirably.
The units are extremely well made, durable and rugged, and they sound fantastic – we plugged in our favourite headphones to audition the “feed” (there are all kinds of headphones options as mentioned earlier, which are really intended for pro studios), and couldn’t fault the audio quality. The only “build” issue we had was a sticky headphones button on the receiver. It’s not a big issue, and maybe it will loosen up over time.
It gives low latency audio as advertised. For me at least, 19ms is still noticeable, enough to slightly annoy me when I am monitoring from the wireless speaker, but it is fine for front of house speakers. It is definitely worth trying to get the latency on your DJ software as low as possible too if you use a laptop system too, though, just to keep the overall latency manageable.
One nice feature is that you charge these while using them, meaning there’s no need for the music to stop (or not start) if you make a mistake and arrive at your gig with depleted batteries – as long as you can find a power feed of course. They also auto turn off if no signal is detected.
And that’s all we can report as far as using them goes – they work, and can make certain types of DJ set-ups easier, which is the whole aim of them.
For us DJs, by far the most obvious use is replacing XLR and/or TRS long cable runs, for instance for mobile DJs setting up speakers a long way from the console, or for setting up speakers for outdoor parties where cables could be difficult or dangerous. Also as mentioned earlier, these would make sense to enable a pair of wired speakers near you and wireless for your more remote pair of speakers.
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An interesting aside is that the popular Soundboks 3 and now Soundboks Go speakers actually have SKAA tech built in. They can not only communicate with each other but receive from a Dani unit. So you could set up a completely wireless such system by adding a Dani unit to your DJ gear. As all units – the Soundboks speakers and the Dani – are battery powered, if you then added something like, say, the Denon DJ Prime Go battery DJ console, you could easily build a totally a mains-free wireless outdoor DJ set-up.
(Another possible Soundboks use would be to use a Streetheart receiver to wirelessly add a traditional subwoofer to such a set-up, especially as Soundboks does not make such a speaker.)
I could also see the Dani/Streetheart combo being a great solution where you DJ in a bar and want to use their house PA, but it is wired to a fixed DJ position. Add your Dani/Streetheart in, with the receiver either wired directly to the amps or to the existing DJ sockets, and you’re suddenly “free” to DJ from anywhere in the venue. I DJ sometimes at a beach bar, for instance, and this would let me set up on the beach rather than inside.
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There are other applications, of course, because the company has aspirations wider than DJ use: The Dani/Streetheart would definitely be of interest to large studios with live rooms, monitor speakers, headphones for vocalists etc, and also similar live music situations where such feeds are required onstage.
(The company also sent us some of their Helix headphones for appraisal, which offer SKAA-enabled wireless monitoring. Good though they are, it’s hard to see why DJs would choose to use these, as most DJs are quite happy with wired headphones, and if not, AIAIAI has a more practical wireless DJ headphone solution.)
So the bottom line is that if you want to buy gear to replace long cable runs, you may as well buy once, and get something that does it all: the Dillinger Labs Dani transmitter and Streetheart receiver are that gear.
The units are well made, flexible, have great battery life, deliver great sound, and have lots of potential beyond what is obvious… and as a bonus, the tech already being embedded in third-party kit. Let’s hope more follows. So, not true “no latency”, but pretty close, and for most I would guess, good enough. In all other areas, perfect.