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Today’s Show:

Wireless Surround Speakers

We receive emails from time to time asking us for advice on wireless surround speakers. When we first started the podcast there weren’t too many options available and today we have plenty. The early wireless solutions had noise issues and today the noise has been dramatically reduced. On today’s show we will talk about some of the options out there to help you bring surround sound to areas where running cables may not be possible.

Audioengine W1 Wireless Audio Adapter (Buy Now $149)
Think of AW1 as a simple replacement for any RCA or 3.5″ mini-jack cable to or from your powered speakers and surround-sound receiver.

The AW1 consists of 2 parts, the “Sender” and “Receiver”. The Sender transmits audio from your AV Receiver with RCA audio outputs. The other side of AW1, the Receiver, connects audio to any powered speakers with a RCA or 3.5” mini jack.

Power for the Sender and Receiver is provided from  from the included USB AC power adapter, or from any other USB AC charger (such as an iPod charger, for example). If you use the Audioengine A5 powered speakers, they include a ComboPort USB charger on top of the left speaker which will power the AW1.

This system is a bit clunky but it does not require much space on both the transmitter and receiver side. If you use the excellent sounding A5s for your surround speakers it is extremely easy and convenient. We have used this device and found it to transmit the audio flawlessly in our home. In all cases with wireless speakers your mileage will vary depending on the interference in your home.

Polk audio F/X Wireless Surround Sound (Buy Now $290)
The F/X is a unique product. Think of it like a soundbar for your surrounds. The entire unit is contained in one cabinet. The 2.4 GHz transmitter is connected to your home theater receiver and communicates with the F/X loudspeaker which can be placed on the floor, a table or a shelf. The whole thing sets up in a snap. Out of all the solutions this is the easiest to setup. Plug in the transmitter, place the speaker behind the couch and provide power. That’s it! We have no experience as to how good it works. We’ll try to get one for demo.

Panasonic SH-FX71 Wireless Rear Speaker System (Buy Now $100)
The Panasonic SH-FX71 is a classic wireless transmitter, it has a transmitter and receiver. The receiver base is a box measuring 9.00″ h x 6.00″ w x 10.00″ so you need to find a place for it behind the couch. Connect your speaker wires and power and you are good to go. The system works on the 2.4Gz frequency.

JBL WEM-1 50-Watt Wireless Amplifier and Expansion Module (Buy Now $329)
The JBL WEM-1 kit contains a transmitter that wirelessly transmits a signal up to 70 feet. The receiver includes a 50W amplifier that receives the wireless signal and can drive any pair of loudspeakers with plenty of power. The transmitter connects to the source using either line or speaker level inputs. The receiver/amplfiier also offers equalization settings for several speakers. A local input allows the user to hook up a portable device as well. At $329 this is one of the more expensive solutions on the market.

KEF Universal Wireless System (Buy Now $499)
(Full Disclosure Kef is a sponsor of the Blu-ray Review Podcast of the HT Guys)
Kef uses some cool technology to make sure your audio does not have any interference. Its called High Fidelity Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation. What that means is that they constantly monitor several channels at a time and continually switch to the strongest available. They also employ an advanced error correction technology to ensure a robust delivery of CD-quality audio between the transmitter and receivers. Its the most expensive but its also the most sophisticated approach.


There are plenty of approaches available today to connect your surround speakers without cutting into walls. The products we highlighted in this article range in price and quality so depending on your wants and needs you should be able to find a solution. If you live in an area that has a lot of interference you may have to spend more money for a more sophisticated solution. But if you have a relatively interference free environment you can get buy for less than $150!

Download Episode #520

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Posted by The HT Guys, March 2, 2012 12:00 AM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.