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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.