Thanks to advanced technology, home audio and video gear can convert a living space into a recording studio, a DJ suite and/or a digital audio workstation. If an enhanced home entertainment centre is required, one of the main issues is likely to be the wiring that connects up the various pieces of equipment. This is where wireless speakers excel. Besides the (generally) improved sound quality there is no DIY involved in the setup process – there’s no need to drill holes in walls for cables or stow them under a carpet. For the house-proud homeowner or tenant there will be no more trailing untidy leads sprawling across an otherwise neat and pristine space. So What The Deal Yo with a home wireless speaker set-up?
How wireless speakers work
Yes, it goes without saying that sound comes out of speakers; however it’s the electronic signals stored on DVDs, CDs and tapes that are actually transmitted and it’s the speaker that converts this back to sound. How clever is that? As a result, the sound quality depends on how great the speakers are. A fabulous recording stored on an advanced device and played by a top of the range deck and amplifier will sound appalling if played through poor speakers.
Nothing to do with how often home audio facilities are used, wireless speakers use radio frequency (RF) or infrared transmission to operate some of the most advanced technology there is in the field of sound. The only downside is that these same radio frequencies might interfere with other electronic stuff, such as how home Wi-Fi functions. It’s also possible for cordless phones, computers and microwaves to experience and to cause interference. Yes, radio waves can penetrate doors and walls, just like Wi-Fi.
To circumvent these difficulties systems have been and continue to be developed using digital spread spectrum (DSS) technology. This allows a listener to control sound from a distance, while an inbuilt quality of service (QOS) channel operates to minimise or prevent interference from other devices. RF technology is improving all the time, with better transmitters and receivers helping to solve the problem of interference.
Infrared transmission requires direct line of sight proximity to work, so the speakers have to be able to communicate with the sound source without any barriers in the way.
The moment has come – superior wireless speakers have been chosen and unpacked and it’s time to set up the home audio system. Now what? There may be front, centre, right and left or surround speakers, depending on the home audio setup.
• Place the speakers on a surface that is flat, secure, and not too close to walls, as this increases the bass.
• To ensure good ventilation put them a minimum of 10mm (half an inch) away from the sound source.
• Aim to position TV, stereo or VCR speakers roughly equal distances from the seating.
• Centre speakers should be raised on a table.
• TV speakers should be placed on either side of the screen.
• Put right and left speakers at the front of the room.
• Place surround speakers at the back of the room. If there are four TV speakers two should be placed behind the seating area, in the corners of the room.
Now for some lucky people who can afford it, a basic home audio system in one room just isn’t enough. In a home that is, literally, tuned to the music there is often a remote-controlled single audio system that connects to a number of wireless speakers placed strategically throughout in the house. Usually the top-end speakers are unobtrusive and offer terrific, high quality sound. However, audiophiles and techno-wizards can dabble with a simpler system using wireless speakers and iTunes, as long as Wi-Fi is available.
Speakers placed in different rooms that connect to Wi-Fi automatically and support AirPlay will not need the addition of an AirPort Express to function. An iPod or iPhone can be used as a remote control. The ‘remote’ software is available from iTunes and once downloaded, simply instruct it to look for remote speakers with AirPlay. The budget version of a sophisticated home audio network is complete. You’re welcome.
Costs and quality
Finally, as anticipated, wireless speakers are more expensive than their regular wired cousins, and some would say cheaper brands might be less reliable.
So when considering a purchase it’s wise to think hard about the manufacturer’s reputation, and the effectiveness of the after-sales service.