Although there is a large selection of portable and compact wireless powered Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers designed for personal music listening, there is an increasing number of inquiries regarding the availability of wireless speakers that are designed specifically for home theater use.
Running those long, unsightly speaker wires required to connect speakers for a surround sound setup can be quite annoying. As a result, consumers are attracted by increasingly promoted home theater system options that tout wireless speakers as a way to solve this problem. However, don’t get sucked in by the term ‘wireless.’ Those speakers might not be as wireless as you expect.
What a Loudspeaker Needs to Create Sound
A loudspeaker needs two types of signals in order to work.
- First, speakers need to access the music or movie soundtrack. This is provided in the form of electrical impulses (the audio signal).
- Second, in order for the speaker to take the electrical sound impulses and convert those impulses into an actual sound that you can hear, the speaker needs to be physically connected to an amplifier, which can be powered either by a battery (most applicable for portable devices) or AC power.
Wireless Home Theater Speaker Requirements
In a traditionally wired speaker setup, both the soundtrack impulses and the power needed to make the loudspeaker work are passed through speaker wire connections from an amplifier.
However, in a wireless speaker setup, a transmitter is required to transmit the needed audio signals, and a receiver needs to used to receive the wirelessly transmitted audio signals.
In this type of setup, the transmitter has to be physically connected to preamp outputs on a receiver, or, in the case where you have a packaged home theater system that incorporates a built-in or plug-in wireless transmitter. This transmitter then sends the music/movie soundtrack information to a speaker or secondary amplifier that has a built-in wireless receiver.
However, another connection is needed to complete the process – power. Since power cannot be transmitted wirelessly, in order to produce the audio signal that is wirelessly transmitted so you can actually hear it, the speaker needs additional power in order to work.
What this means that the speaker still has to be physically attached to a power source and an amplifier. The amplifier may be built right into the speaker housing or, in some cases, the speakers are physically attached with speaker wire to an external amplifier that is powered by batteries or plugged into the house AC power source. Obviously, the battery option severely limits the ability of a wireless speaker to output adequate power over a long period of time.
by Robert Silva
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