Home entertainment enthusiasts have been waiting for the day when truly wireless surround sound speakers become feasible and affordable. Unfortunately, as of today, only the rear speakers in a surround sound system can be wireless; the front or ‘base’ speakers still have to be wired to each other. But when you consider the fact that it is the rear speakers that cause much of the wiring problems, getting a ‘wireless’ system does make a lot of sense.
The problem with wireless surround sound speakers is a basic lack of understanding of their use and function by the average consumer. Most consumers still believe that a wireless system must be ‘truly’ wireless – completely free of wires, capable of being played from anywhere, quite like a cell phone. There is also a belief that these systems cost a tremendous amount of money and are well out of the reach of the average consumer.
Most of this, of course, is wrong. You can buy a quality set of wireless surround sound speakers for as low as $300. Of course, the more you are willing to pay, the better sound quality you’ll get. Further, a truly ‘wireless’ system is still a pipe dream. After all, all the speakers still need to be connected to a power source, as well as a transmitter that can relay audio signals to the receiver.
Perhaps it is because of these myths that the sales of wireless surround sound speakers hasn’t quite picked up pace in the past few years, even as large screen LCD/Plasma TVs have become more ubiquitous have become more popular. The truth is that a wireless home theater system is quite affordable, and significantly cuts down on the amount of wiring required. It is easier to install, cuts down on the clutter, and makes it far easier to adjust the speakers for a personalized experience.
Technologically, wireless speakers work on radio frequencies (RF) signals. Some older systems work on infra-red. The former can work up to a range of 100 feet, although some newer models designed for outdoor use have a range of up to 300 feet. The typical 5.1 surround sound system consists of 3 front cone woofers that form the ‘base’, one woofer that handles low frequencies (i.e. the bass), and two rear speakers that round out the surround sound experience. Some models also have amplifiers to enhance the quality of the sound.
Prominent brands in this space are JBL, Yamaha, Sony, Onkyo, and Bose. Logitech is another favorite brand, especially for computer surround sound speakers. Bose is one of the top brands and has come to be associated with high quality performance, though it is generally quite expensive, while Yamaha is well known for its engineering quality and low price.
When buying a wireless surround sound speaker system, do your research thoroughly. You can also opt for a second hand system, provided it has been well taken care of. This way, you can save hundreds of dollars on what would otherwise be an expensive purchase.