Wireless speakers are something we get a lot g requests for here, so I’d like to point out a few things. People often think that wireless is going to solve their problems of getting speaker cables where they need them. There are a couple of things that, for most situations, makes wireless a non option.
First and foremost, there are not many actual wireless speakers. These devices need power, and the most common way to get power is from – wait for it – a cable. This power plug will need to run from your ideal speaker location back to the nearest power point.
Some speakers attempt to get around this by having a semi wireless setup; one speaker is connected to the other, so only one speaker needs the mains power. The JBL Control 2.4 speaker system is a good example of this. This works, but you need a speaker cable linking the two speakers, so you’ve only removed a couple of runs of cable.
The next issue is a deal breaker for most people: sound quality. If you’ve ever talked on a cordless phone, you’ll remember the interference, distortion, and general lack of quality associated with wireless. Even Bluetooth compresses the life out of a signal to get it to where it needs to go. Some technologies, such as Bluetooth Apt-X attempt to get around this, and they do a pretty decent job, but this drives the cost of both the transmitter and receiver quite considerably.
So, limited bandwidth and sound quality issues, but a price tag higher than most good quality speaker cable runs, eh? Well, the good news is that there are some speakers that actually work pretty well with wireless – or at least, the benefits outweigh the negatives: Subwoofers.
Subwoofers are often set in an unobtrusive location, which usually means long runs of cable. If the sub wasn’t planned for initially, this cable does have to make the loop across the room. Also, anyone familiar with tinkering with their home theater knows that the placement of the sub can make a huge difference to the sound quality, and only moving the sub around will tell you where the best spot is. This can be a pain if you’ve got to re-route the cable every time.
Enter the wireless subwoofer! Because the signal is low bandwidth and most of the potential noise can be rolled off, wireless technology for subs can be quite good. Paradigm make one, with the PDR-W100, and Yamaha has an offering as well, with a transmitter built into the YSP4100 and YSP5100.
We will be updating this article as new information arrives on these new models, so stay tuned!