Wireless Speakers System Reviews
...add-on modules for surround speakers, subwoofers,
and multi-room applications
Wireless Audio Systems help eliminate unsightly home theater speaker wires across the living room to the rear and back speakers in a surround sound setup, but not only... They will also enable you obtain a more convenient placeman for that powered subwoofer, or proceed with a multi-room audio installation without any wiring right through every room!
To help you find the best wireless solution for your needs, we have prepared a compilation of short product reviews covering some of best yet affordable wireless audio systems for use as part of an entertainment solution in the home.
(available from amazon)
A inexpensive yet robust wireless surround sound speaker system that is easy to use, featuring 2x30Wrms/ch wireless receiver.
Audio Wireless Systems
Wireless systems offer greater flexibility and convenience to home entertainment owners especially when in-wall wiring is not an option.
In this wireless speakers systems review, we cover some of the best available add-on wireless modules that will enable you to transform a wired speaker system into a wireless setup in no time at all.
Despite that wireless speaker systems have been on the market for a few years, choice is still very much limited with only a few options worth considering. Furthermore, most wireless speakers systems are mainly designed to deliver limited audio power, typically 25W to 50W RMS per channel. Is this enough? It all depends what are your exact requirements.
Prices vary from less than hundred dollars to several hundred dollars. This mainly depends on the available audio power at the receiver end, as well as supported features. For example, systems that come with a remote control (useful mainly in multi-zone audio) are relatively more expensive. Including the speakers as part of the wireless kit do have a considerable impact on the overall price as well. However, wireless kits intended for home theater use do not normally incorporate speakers; instead, these make use of the same rear or back surround speakers that come with your home theater system.
There is a twofold benefit to this:
1] You will be able to make use of the higher-quality surround speakers typical of conventional home theater systems.
2] Using the same rear/back speakers that come with your system helps ensure a more balanced tonal response with respect to the rest of the speakers associated with the different audio channels in your surround sound setup.
While you may spend up to a couple of hundred dollars on a wireless speaker system, anything between $100 and $250 would generally give you a good enough wireless audio system for home entertainment applications.
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Featured Wireless Audio Solutions - Product Reviews
JBL WEM-1 50W 2-channel 2.4GHz wireless amplifier
An interesting wireless kit suitable for use in a surround sound setup is the JBL WEM-1 50W 2-channel 2.4GHz wireless amplifier.
This is one of our favorite wireless speaker kits. It is a relatively robust wireless system that is available at amazon for around $250 to $300 - a fair price considering that it can deliver up to 50Wrms per channel of high quality sound; most wireless speaker systems come with a maximum 25W RMS dual channel amplifier.
complete with remote control
(available from amazon)
Like most systems, it uses the same 2.4 GHz computer wireless technology to transmit CD-audio quality sound up to 70 feet away, making the JBL solution suitable for use in a surround speaker setup as well as in multi-room audio.
The transmitter connects to the source using either line or speaker level inputs. Using the line-level input—if available on your AV receiver—will generally help you avoid most hum problems many encounter when connecting add-on wireless modules via the speaker signal.
Unlike most 2.4GHz systems, the transmitter and receiver are not paired at the factory but have to be paired by the user by selecting a suitable common channel on both the transmitter and receiver. In total, the JBL system comes with four user-selectable communication channels. This makes it possible to use say a second receiver unit paired to the same transmitter to send audio to a second room. Alternatively you can use a second JBL wireless kit to wirelessly drive both the rear and back channels in a 7.1 speaker setup as further explained in our wireless speakers' installation guide.
The receiver/amplifier offers equalization settings for several speaker types. A local input on the receiver module allows the user to hook up a portable device like an MP3 or gaming system to the amplifier, while a subwoofer line level output allows you to feed the low-frequency sounds to a separate powered subwoofer. Note that the subwoofer output on the JBL receiver unit is not filtered or low-passed, so make sure you use the low-pass crossover network on your powered subwoofer as otherwise you will hear a lot of undesirable higher-frequency information from your subwoofer.
The JBL WEM-1 kit comes complete with a remote control to adjust the volume from your listening position as well as to select the input on the receiver amplifier as the signal source. The remote is surely a welcome convenience, one that is often missing on wireless speakers systems irrespective of price. It is true that once you correctly balance the sound level on the JBL receiver unit, you will not be using the remote for volume setting in the case of a surround sound application, but it will still be of use to select the source input (local or wireless) on the receiver end as well as to mute the sound.
One final feature—again often missing on most systems within this price category—is Auto On/Standby feature. The JBL On Air WEM-1 wireless speaker amplifier kit will automatically enter the Standby mode after approximately 10 minutes when no signal is detected from your system. The JBL WEM-1 will then power on instantly when a signal is detected. Note that when mute is engaged, auto turn-off is deactivated.
The affordable JBL WEM-1 wireless amplifier is a favorite option among those looking for a serious wireless amplifier kit for any application. It is priced a bit on the high side with respect to other systems, but for the price you get a few extras! Definitely, it is worth considering if it falls within your price bracket.
Audio Unlimited Premium 900MHz Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Speakers with Remote and Dual Power Transmitter
This Audio Unlimited Indoor/Outdoor wireless speaker kit is typical of most outdoor wireless speaker systems. It makes use of 900MHz FM wireless technology to transmit a stereo signal to the two speakers up to 150 feet away.
Rated at just 5W per speaker, this is not the system for those looking for premium sound quality. But overall sound quality is acceptable especially for general outdoor use.
The wireless speakers can be powered either using six 'C' type alkaline batteries or AC through the supplied AC/DC adaptor.
Audio Unlimited Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Speakers
with remote and dual power transmitter
Connection to the transmitter is at line level, meaning you can connect the Audio Unlimited wireless speakers transmitter unit to the audio output jack or headphone/earphone jack on your audio source. The system transmitter supports all types of audio inputs including RCA inputs for home theater receivers, MP3 players, computers, iPods, and iPhones.
The system features both an auto-tune function which makes setting up the wireless link a simple one button operation, as well as an auto-switch off function which helps save on battery power by automatically switching off the transmitter if it does not detect any signal for 4 minutes. Some may find the latter time window a bit too short but we think that four minutes just strike the right balance between convenience and battery power usage.
Being a 900MHz wireless technology means that the Audio Unlimited wireless system would not interfere with your Wi-Fi networking. Included with the wireless kit is a remote control through which you can auto-tune or power on/off the system, and adjust the volume control.
Available in pink, white or black, these Audio Unlimited inexpensive wireless indoor/outdoor speakers represent a good reliable system for the price.
Bose SL2 Wireless Link for Rear Speakers
Bose SL2 Wireless Link
for rear speakers
While the other wireless systems featured here can operate with most audio systems irrespective of brand, the Bose SL2 Wireless Link is designed specifically to provide a wireless connection for surround speakers on Bose 5.1-channel Lifestyle® and Acoustimass® home entertainment systems.
It can support Bose systems having a maximum rated output of 200W per channel.
The Bose SL2 wireless link has now been discontinued but it is still available on eBay for around $250 online. It makes use of 5.8GHz wireless technology, meaning it is significantly less prone to interference from mobile phones, microwave ovens, wireless home networks, and other household appliances operating in the more congested 2.4GHz and 900MHz bands. But using 5.8GHz transmission also explains the limited 30ft range supported by the Bose SL2. Still, 30ft should be more than adequate for a single room installation. And using RF instead of say infra-red means you can also hide away the transmitter and receiver ends since line of site is not required. At the same time, this limited range means you cannot use the SL2 as part of a multiroom audio setup.
The Bose SL2 wireless link can produce high quality sound that will soon make you forget there are no wires between the rear speakers and your Bose home entertainment system.
Setting up is quick and easy thanks to the use of color-coded connections. Simply connect the transmitter to your Acoustimass module, and the receiver to your rear surround speakers. Just be sure to set the select switch on the bottom of the SL2 transmitter to 'Lifestyle' or 'Other' depending on your system configuration. Then plug both units into a wall outlet. Once you position your surround speakers, make it a point to run the ADAPTiQ® audio calibration system provided with your LIFESTYLE® system; this will ensure you get the best balanced sound from your new setup.
This is all it takes to install your new Bose SL2 Wireless Link. All that remains is... to enjoy your Bose system!
SoundCast SC100 SurroundCast System
The Surroundcast SCS100 wireless speakers system represents an interesting wireless speaker kit option mainly designed for surround sound applications.
It represents an alternative to more expensive options such as the Amphony Model 1600, the JBL WEM-1 and the Rocketfish RF-RBKIT Wireless HD Audio Starter Kit. It also delivers twice as much audio power as the popular and highly reliable Rocketfish RF-WHTIB wireless speaker kit reviewed on our site.
(available from amazon)
Like most surround wireless speaker systems, the SurroundCast is a typical wireless surround sound system that makes use of 2.4GHz wireless technology. The kit consists of a transmitter with speaker level inputs and an amplified wireless receiver module delivering 2x60 watts of digital power into 4 to 8 Ohm speakers. The system is quick and easy to install and has a relatively low latency delay of 16ms.
At under $150 for a 50Wrms wireless speaker system, this is one of the cheapest kits around.
Soundcast SCS100 comes with a single wireless receiver to drive the two rear speakers. A derivative of the Soundcast SCS100 is the Soundcast X2; this is basically the same as the SCS100 but comes with two separate 50Wrms wireless receivers instead of the single dual-channel wireless receiver of the SCS100. However, the Soundcast X2 is relatively expensive with respect to the SCS100, making it more feasible to buy two SCS100 kits than a single Soundcast X2!
One particular interesting product within the Soundcast range is the Soundcast SOU-SCK510 SubCast wireless transmitter/receiver system for powered subwoofers. As expected, it comes with line-level inputs and outputs on both the transmitter and receiver.
But despite that it is being marketed as a wireless unit for subwoofers, this is suitable for a full range of other audio applications. The reason is that the Soundcast solution is capable of handling full range audio (20Hz to 20KHz), thus making it possible to use in applications such as in 2nd-zone audio requiring line level connectivity.
However, the fact that the SubCast does not comes with low pass filtered outputs means you have to make sure you use the low-pass crossover network on your powered subwoofer, otherwise you will hear a lot of undesirable higher-frequency distortions from your subwoofer.
One interesting feature of the SOU-SCK510 SubCast kit is that it has adjustable latency delay of 16msec for in-room applications and 64msec latency delay for long outdoor range of 300-feet.
More information on the SoundCast line of wireless audio systems is available in our review here.
Detailed Product Reviews are also available on our site for the following audio wireless products:
The Rocketfish is a powerful yet affordable solution based on a new concept in home audio, that of an easily expandable wireless audio network capable of delivering multiple streams of CD-quality sound. It may serve both in multi-room wireless audio and in 5.1 and 7.1 wireless surround sound.
Its wireless amplifiers are rated at 42W RMS per channel in 4 Ohm speakers and the system comes with enhanced features despite the inexpensive price. For our review of the new Rocketfish system, please click here.
Originally reviewed in May 2007, this inexpensive Rocketfish wireless kit is still among the best systems we have ever come across, delivering 25W RMS per channel of clean audio up to 100 feet away.
For more information, please check our detailed review here.
Wireless Systems for Surround Sound
Want to do away with trailing speaker cables for the rear and back surround channel speakers and also the powered subwoofer? SoundCast has the answer!
Sonos Music System for Multi-room audio streaming
Sonos offers an excellent range of wireless music components designed for easy multi-room quality audio streaming. However... the Sonos system is not cheap, and has its limitations as well. Does this mean that the Sonos asking price is too high? Discover more in this in-depth review.
Acoustic Research ARW20 Wireless Amplifier
A robust modular wireless multi-channel audio system complete with transmitter and two wireless receivers each delivering 60W RMS into 4 Ohm speakers.
The transmitter supports up to six audio channels and can drive up to six distinct wireless amplifiers, allowing you to add additional components later on for a full wireless 5.1 home theater solution, or a full rear/back surround in a 7.1 speaker setup.
This product line has now been discontinued but for those who would like to know more, we are publishing our review of the AR solution here.