HDTV Magazine
Welcome, Anonymous  •  Sign In  •  Register  •  Help

Today’s Show:

Wireless Surrounds that Work!

We have been on a quest to find a wireless surround solution that not only works but works well! Maybe its because we live in a noisy home or neighborhood but we have not found a solution that has worked well. Either we would get static or in many cases we got nothing. Our last ditch effort took a product that worked with laptops and mp3 players and adapted it to work with our AVR.

The centerpiece of the solution is the Audioengine W3 Wireless Adapter (Buy Now $149). The W3 can process USB audio up to 16 bits/48KHz with no compression. However, for our application we used the analog audio input via a 3.5mm minijack which should be just fine for a surround application.

For use in a home theater application you would take the surround left and right preouts and hook them up to an RCA to 3.5mm minijack cable. If your receiver has a USB input you could connect the W3 to that and you would have power.

In our case we had neither. To get audio to the transmitter we used an adapter to convert speaker outputs to RCA (Rockford Fosgate RF-HLC High Level Speaker Signal to Low Level RCA Adapter $17.50) and then we used the RCA to 3.5mm adapter cable. The W3 includes a power adapter for either the transmitter or receiver. We used it for the transmitter.

The final connection to the Cerwin Vega VE5Ms requires an amplifier and the W3 receiver. The amplifier we decided to use is the Audioengine N22 (Buy Now $199) for two reasons. One, its has great specs! Two, it has a powered USB port to plug the W3 receiver unit into.

  • Power output – 22W RMS / 40W peak per channel (AES)
  • THD+N – <0.02% at all power settings
  • Frequency response – 20Hz-22kHz ±1dB
  • SNR – >95dB A-weighted

We could have gone with a much less expensive amp, and you can too to save the some money, but we felt the power and quality of the amp was worth it on our application. An alternative amp costing about $175 less that you could substitute is the Kinter 12V 2 CH Mini Digital Audio Power Amplifier (Buy Now $10.50) but then you would also need to use an adapter to provide USB power for the W3 receiver.

Performance

One word, success!! Ara’s wife had been giving him grief about having the surround speakers in the room just sitting there not making sound. The ultimatum was given, either get the speakers doing something or get them out of the room. This was the solution that not only got sound coming through the speakers but did so cleanly. The W3 has been transmitting sound to the surrounds for about four weeks now. There has not been one pop, click, or hiss in that entire time. And this is in an environment that has seen no less than three other wireless solutions fail miserably.

Another complaint some have with wireless solutions is that it may affect the wifi performance in your home. In the same period no one has complained about spotty wifi or sluggish performance. At one point Ara thought that some of the issues he experienced with Cox Communications cable may have been a result of the the W3 interfering with his wifi. the good news is that after changing his DNS servers those issues have been cleared up and all is good.

Final Thoughts

If you have invested a lot of money in your speakers and are in a position where you can’t run speaker wire to your surrounds, we recommend this exact solution. The N22 can provide enough clean power with little distortion which will put a smile on your face each time something blows up or flies over your head. If you need something that works but just don’t want to invest a lot of money, swap out the amp with a lower cost model and you’ll still be happy when you hear something fly over your head!

Download Episode #680


Posted by The HT Guys, March 26, 2015 11:01 PM

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.