When it comes to wireless speaker systems, keeping it simple and playing it conservative is your best approach. The technology is constantly improving. Do your homework.

Am I ready for Wireless Speakers?

Acoustic Research | Acoustic Research

When it comes to wireless speaker systems, keeping it simple and playing it conservative is your best approach. The technology is constantly improving. Do your homework.


Acoustic Research


In an age when virtually everything is wireless, can someone explain what has taken so long to perfect wireless speakers?  The concept has been great-no wires!…the performance has left a bit to be desired.  Unfortunately, many of the performance issues are the result of interference by the other twenty or so electronic products in your household, which we know are not going away any time soon.

Don't let that scare you off.  Wireless speaker technology is getting better every day as technology advances. This summer, Acoustic Research will introduce one of the biggest breakthroughs in wireless speaker history….a wireless speaker system that uses a highly-advanced 2.4 GHz, digital spread spectrum with a Quality of Service (QOS) channel that continuously avoids any potential interference from sources like cordless phones, 802.11 computer networks and even the dreaded microwave oven. 

Before you start shopping you should know that wireless speakers generally fall into two categories, infrared and radio frequency. Infrared (like your TV remote control) transmits a signal to the speakers, which can result in an occasional dropout of sound. Infrared also requires direct line of site to the speakers and any objects in the way can prevent those speakers from receiving a clear signal. You would have to consider buying redundant transmitters to help reduce those sound dropouts.  Radio frequency (RF) systems can pass a signal through objects and the new RF systems utilize better transmitters and receptors to decrease the interference, however, there is a slight risk of sound interference coming from a nearby radio, cordless phone, microwave oven or PC. Sound quality is also being stepped up as the systems become better able to transmit quality signals.

With performance issues concurred, there is only a plus side to adding wireless to your home speaker systems.

  • They eliminate the "spaghetti"-like clutter and tangle of conventionally wired connections in home entertainment installations.

  • Then there are the applications…like being great for outdoor or other room use.

  • And the installation….with no wires they set up quick and easy; take them out of the box and turn them on.

  • And finally, they make drilling holes in the wall and lifting the carpets to run wires for your rear channels a thing of the past.

So what's not to love?  Don't jump too quickly… there is as much misinformation as there is information on wireless speakers.  To help you navigate the process we'd like to try and clear up some of the myths and mystics that surround wireless speakers.

 

Myths & Mystiques…

 

  • "I thought these were wireless speakers? What's this plug for?"  They are wireless…but you need to understand that wireless speakers systems are not completely wireless.  Wireless speakers need to be connected to a power source because speakers need amplification, either through an integrated or external amplifier.  Amplification is impossible to achieve without a plug-in power source.  Forget about batteries. A battery-powered system just can't provide the "juice" required for your home theater system; you need wall-socket power.
     

  • "How come all the speakers in my new system are not wireless?" Traditionally, wireless speakers are used for the rear channel in a surround sound system, where you would normally have to get wires across a room, which is never easy.  Wireless speakers are also used when you want to have music in another room from where your receiver is located.  In that application, wireless speakers eliminate the need to run speaker wire from room to room.
     

  • "Everyone says wireless speakers don't work and I won't like them." If you can't get one of the hot new 2.4GHz systems, you can help eliminate performance issues in other ways before you buy.  Get the system that will work best in your personal environment.  There are two types of wireless speakers- -infrared and radio frequency (RF). Infrared (like your TV remote control) transmits a signal to the speakers, which requires direct line of site to the speakers and any objects in the way can prevent those speakers from receiving a clear signal…thus you have sound drop out. Consider buying redundant transmitters to help reduce those sound dropouts.
     

  • Radio frequency (RF) systems can pass a signal through objects, which makes their use for remote room installations perfect; however, they can have issues as well.  RF systems have a risk of picking up sound interference coming from other electronics equipment like a nearby radio, cordless phone, microwave oven or PC. Watch your install location to limit this risk. The most advance systems have the ability to avoid interference.

The Facts….As with any purchase, knowing what you want and need plus what is our there will help make your decision easier. 

  • Know what you want.  Are you adding wireless to an existing system or buying a whole new home theater system?  Are you using the system in one room or in multiple rooms?

  • If you are adding on, a simple add-on system that consists of a small transmission unit that normally connects to the rear-channel speaker level output on your home theater receiver should do the trick.  It uses wireless digital technology to transmit the audio signal to one or two powered (plugged in to AC) audio receivers(s) across the room, maybe even tucked behind a piece of furniture (sofa). Those audio receives plug into your speakers.  In fact, with many add on systems you can use your existing speakers and 'turn them into' wireless speakers.

    Add on systems often have built-in power amplifiers that boost the received signal to drive the rear speakers for better sound.  Add-on units are the perfect solution if you already own a home theater receiver complete with all the necessary speakers, and all you are looking for is a way to remove those unsightly rear speaker wires crossing your living room

    Most add-on integrated, power amplified, wireless speakers should deliver between 10 and 50 watts RMS power output per speaker.  Higher power output will produce higher quality, more dynamic sound, and work with a wider range of speakers.
     

  • If you are buying a brand new surround sound system (Home Theater in a Box) you might want to include wireless for your rear channels from the beginning.  An integrated wireless HTIB can give you the most economical and convenient solution; everything you need is in the box and ready to install.  Integrated systems usually include an audio wireless set-up for the rear surround speaker channel as well as control features for the rear channel.
     

  • If you are planning to install your wireless speaker system in a multi-room environment, don't do it alone.  Many audio stores have veteran installers who can help you pick the right system and can walk you through the connections between that system and the speakers you plan to use in other rooms.
     

  • Buy Quality.  In speakers like in most electronic products that old adage you get what you pay for applies.  Buy Quality. From a Reputable Manufacturer. And buy a system that fits your budget. One that will put you exactly where you want to be…in the middle of a great movie with awesome sound all around you.

When it comes to wireless speaker systems, keeping it simple and playing it conservative is your best approach. The technology is constantly improving. Do your homework.   If all you want is a wireless speaker system that will deliver good sound while eliminating the unsightly clutter of wires, then focus on just that. If high performance is your goal then watch the news as technology is changing every day.

Like the new Acoustic Research (AR) system...they say it's the industry's first high-performance wireless 5.1-speaker package that includes a state-of-the-art, wireless rear channel system.   AR claims the system finally answers the problems that have plagued wireless speaker systems forever. Supported by a high-output 10-inch, 125-watt amplifier subwoofer, their system employs highly advanced digital spread spectrum 2.4 GHz circuitry with a Quality of Service (QOS) channel that avoids potential interference.

It probably should come as no surprise that Acoustic Research, who has been making quality speakers for over 50 Years, would be the ones to solve the wireless dilemma…Check them out..the Acoustic Research WHT6024 interference-free "CD" quality, wireless solution.  Look for it at leading retail electronic stores this summer at an MSRP of $799.


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