Every good home theater starts with two fundamentals: the largest and sharpest screen possible, and high-quality surround sound to accurately reproduce the multi-channel soundtracks of modern films and digital entertainment. For years, that meant doing some extensive (and, sometimes, expensive) wiring for at least five separate speakers plus a subwoofer.
If you want the absolute best sound possible, there’s still no way around doing that work. But if you are willing to settle for very good, then you now have another option: a wireless surround system. And keep in mind that the definition of very good here might include “better than you have ever heard before.”
Most wireless systems won’t be completely wireless; they will often connect from the sound bar or subwoofer to at least a couple of the speakers. Still, it’s a lot more convenient than trying to tuck 50 feet of speaker cable into the walls or under the carpet. Depending on your budget, space, and priorities, a wireless surround system could be just the ticket to make your movie nights a little more immersive. Here’s what to look for while shopping.
What to Consider
5.1 or more?
The traditional surround-sound specification calls for five full-range speakers: one center channel, left and right up front, plus left and right speakers mounted on either side of your listening area. Whether branded Dolby, DTS, or something else, this is a 5.1 system, with the “point one” referring to a separate channel for a subwoofer. The “sub” is how you get all the earth-shaking booms and rumbles from superhero movies and car crashes.
Most people will be satisfied with 5.1, but it’s possible to add two more speakers behind the listeners for a 7.1 setup. Add a second subwoofer, and you’re at 7.2. Want ceiling speakers? That’s 7.1.2 or 7.1.4 depending on how many you add. Keep in mind, however, that most movies and media won’t be able to take advantage of the extra channels beyond 5.1, so in most cases the sound you will hear through the extra speakers will be digitally extracted and modified from the 5.1 soundtrack.
Wi-Fi or Bluetooth?
The first wireless systems were built around Bluetooth. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to connect, but it has some limitations. You’ll want to make sure that your entire system fits inside a circle with a 30-foot (or less) radius, and you’ll need to be comfortable with the limitations in quality imposed by the low bandwidth of Bluetooth connections, which have to compress the signal a bit and take out some of the fine detail. If you’re already listening to MP3 or streaming video, you won’t notice any difference; it is primarily apparent when listening to CD-quality or better audio, and even then, many people won’t notice them.
Wi-Fi systems have extended range—up to 100 feet between speakers, more if you have Wi-Fi boosters—and better sound. But they aren’t as foolproof to set up or troubleshoot. If you aren’t completely comfortable with the nuts and bolts of operating Wi-Fi equipment, you’ll want to get some help from a qualified installer.
All of these systems use HDMI cables to accept incoming video; some of them also have the ability to accept a Bluetooth pairing from another device for incoming audio, so you can play music from your phone through the system.
How Much Power and Capacity?
The power of a sound system is expressed in watts. Between systems from the same manufacturer, you can use watts as a measure of relative loudness. However, different manufacturers may use different standards to measure power, so don’t choose one system over another just because it offers “500 watts” compared to another system’s “300 watts.”
When it comes to speaker size, bigger is almost always better, despite what you read in the advertisements. A speaker is fundamentally a device for moving air. Larger-diameter speakers need less back-and-forth movement to do it, which means they can be clearer, crisper, and more articulate than small-diameter speakers making large “excursions” back and forth to produce high volume.
This is all doubly true for subwoofers. If you live somewhere the neighbors won’t complain, get the largest-diameter “sub” you can, powered by the highest-capacity amplifier. Don’t be fooled by claims of extensive bass performance due to “ports” or “resonance chambers.” To shake the floor, you need raw power and size.
How We Evaluated
I’ve been building and evaluating traditional wired home theaters for almost 25 years. I looked for a wide variety of performance, price, and size options, relying on manufacturers with an established reputation for repeated excellence in amplifier and/or speaker construction. Here are seven wireless surround setups to make your home theater more enjoyable.
Source : https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/audio/g38003019/best-wireless-surround-sound/892