Mesh network “Netgear Orbi RBK”: HiRes audio without ethernet cables

Mesh network "Netgear Orbi RBK" has been launched. Basically it is a HiRes audio without ethernet cables so you can enjoy a better music experience.

Mesh network “Netgear Orbi RBK” launched- Whether it is a widely distributed multi-room HiFi in the house, the music server filled with HiRes data in the basement for the listening room with a stereo system in the attic or simply the freedom to dance around the entire house with a mobile audio device and be connected to your favorite streaming service: with a normal one Router and its limited WLAN range are often difficult to implement.

Mesh network versus repeaters or powerline adapters

Those who do not want to reach for a drill and pull Ethernet cables through walls and ceilings often rely on repeaters or powerline adapters. A mesh system is even more uncompromising – it has some advantages over the aforementioned solutions: a more homogeneous WLAN network with a uniform name (SSID) throughout the house without roaming (brief connection interruption), high transmission speeds down to the furthest corners (simple repeaters sometimes cut in half the transmission speed per station) including garden, basement or attic and no direct influences from interference in the power grid on the signal.

Mesh systems such as the “Netgear Orbi RBK” should ensure a fast and homogeneous WLAN network with a uniform name (SSID) throughout the house

A mesh network consists of a central unit or base as well as various access points in the form of satellite devices that are placed in different areas of the apartment or house. Instead of simply looping the signal through in series, as is the case with repeaters, each satellite offers an independent, basically equivalent mesh access point or a WiFi spot that is unaffected by other satellites. This minimizes transmission rate losses.

WiFi 6 and HiRes audio

NETGEAR Orbi WiFi 6E Quad-Band Mesh System (RBKE963)

For particularly demanding users: The brand new Netgear Orbi 960 series (in the picture: Orbi RBKE963) even supports the new WiFi 6E standard, and there is an additional, fourth transmission channel

Starting with the IEEE 802.11n standard (now: WiFi 4), the Wi-Fi Alliance has renamed its standards; the current 802.11ax standard is accordingly called WiFi 6. WiFi 6E also uses the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands a 6 GHz channel.

With four streams, routers can theoretically achieve up to 1148 Mbps (2.4 gigahertz) and 4804 Mbps (5 gigahertz). Even if the values ​​achieved in practice are only a fraction, as usual, there is enough air for HiRes audio data transmission available: A 96 kHz 24-bit PCM stream requires a transmission rate of 4.6 Mbps, a 192 kHz stream correspondingly double (9.2 Mbps). WiFi 6 is of course backwards compatible with older standards.

Mesh network "Netgear Orbi": WiFi 6

The “Netgear Orbi RBK” mesh system works on the basis of the WiFi-6 standard (802.11ax)

The “Netgear Orbi RBK” mesh system

Last but not least, Netgear has earned a reputation among audiophiles – the company from Silicon Valley also offers server solutions (NAS) to which many listeners entrust their music libraries.

As part of its Orbi series, Netgear has a total of six ready-made mesh system packages that differ only in the number of satellites, are otherwise technically identical and each come with the same base device / router. According to Netgear, more than two additional satellites are rarely necessary in real life, which is why the packages in particular Netgear Orbi RBK852 and Netgear RBK853 (See below for prices). For comparison: the largest kit, Orbi RBK857, contains six satellites and targets areas of up to 1,225 square meters.

Netgear Orbi in a living environment

Netgear Orbi in a living environment

How does the switch to the Orbi mesh network work?

Switching from the old router to the Orbi system is very easy, especially if you have not assigned any fixed IP addresses in the home network: Configure the Orbi router with the existing WiFi key and WiFi name (SSID) via Netgear -Orbi app or browser, the connected network devices do not even notice the change. “Since the modem technology and the requirements for it are different in almost every country, Netgear has focused on networking in the To optimize the house ”, the Californians give as the reason why the Orbi system nonetheless requires an additional Internet modem, which takes over the connection to the outside world in the WWW. The Netgear Orbi base unit is equipped with a 2.5 Gbps LAN port for connection to the modem (i.e. usually the previous router).

Interfaces & specs

Mesh network "Netgear Orbi": Backs of the router and satellite

The rear interfaces of the router and satellite from Netgear’s Orbi-RBK series

The Netgear Orbi RBK system communicates via Tri-band: As a separate “line” is reserved for the control and communication of the individual mesh components, the 2.4 KHz and 5 KHz bands can concentrate on the actual data traffic undisturbed.

The Beamforming Capable On the connection side, the Orbi base device has four Gigabit LAN interfaces in addition to the 2.5 Gbit / s LAN port. A quad-core processor with 2.2 GHz is integrated. Last but not least, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are supported. The satellites are also capable of both WLAN and LAN (4 x GBit).

Functions such as a WiFi guest network, night service, child safety or the prioritization of individual devices are carried out centrally via the Orbi app and then apply uniformly to the entire mesh system with its connected satellites.

“Netgear Orbi” mesh system – prices:

  • RBK852: 799.99 euros
  • RBK853: 1,099.99 euros
  • RBK854: 1,489.99 euros
  • RBK855: 1,829.99 euros
  • RBK856: 2,179 euros
  • RBK857: 2,529 euros
  • RBS850 (single repeater for expansion): 433 euros