Wireless Speakers Do Not Exist
I have been an HT enthusiast since the mid-90s. While my setups have undergone massive changes due to technology, one constant has followed me. The spaghetti-like mess of wires needed to connect all my speakers. As my setup evolved, I started to hide my cables in creative ways and eventually moved to in-wall speaker wire. But surely in 2021, we must have a wireless solution to this problem? Unfortunately, the answer is still a no. Wireless speakers still do not exist.
What is a Wired Speaker
Before we understand why wireless speakers do not exist, we must understand why speakers have wires. As with all things AV, we need to explain a couple of things. I always try and keep explanations as simple as possible. Because, honestly, I don’t always know the exact science behind things. For that, ask Rob H at AV Rant Podcast – he is a walking AV encyclopedia! But I digress. Your amplifier powers wired passive speakers via a speaker wire connected to the speaker wire terminals on the amplifier and speaker. In the most simple terms, your amplifier sends electrical energy to your speakers. Your speakers convert that energy into mechanical energy by moving the drivers in your speakers. Without that electrical energy via the cable, your wired speakers can not produce sound.
We would love for true wireless speakers to exist, and active speakers get us much closer to that possibility. Active speakers have internal amplifiers built into the speakers to power them without an external amp. We are getting one step closer to wireless setups because they don’t need wires running for power from the amp to the speaker. However, that internal amplifier still needs power, so you still need a power cord. In some setups, you still need to run a speaker wire to the second passive speaker to provide it power. This is especially true with desktop speakers intended for use with a computer. Now you need to run RCA’s into the speaker to connect to your sources. Sadly, this is a wired setup; it’s just more compact.
Wireless Active Streaming Speakers
Ok, so here we are getting closer to a wireless speaker setup. Each active speaker has an internal amplifier to power it. The good news is that either through DTS Play-Fi, Bluetooth, or another wireless streaming tech, you don’t need to connect your speakers to the sources physically. The wireless subwoofer in the Monoprice SB500 works like this. I plugged in the sub, placed it a distance from the soundbar, and linked them via Bluetooth. It allowed me to put it anywhere in my room. The bad news? They all still need a power cord for each speaker, so still not wireless.
Wireless Surround Speaker Kits
Ok, surely with a name like a wireless surround speaker kit, the speaker is wireless. Unfortunately, this is again not the case. In fact, these solutions often have more wires than just running two speaker wires from your receiver. These kits allow you to hook up your surround speakers without speaker wire from your receiver to your surround speakers. But you need to run power a power cable from the wall into the sending box and also run power into the receiving box. From the receiving box, you need speaker wire out to each of the passive speakers. So you have gone from two wires to six. Isn’t that moving in the wrong direction?
Wireless Rechargeable Bluetooth Speakers
So here we are the closest we currently have to making wireless speakers truly exist. These speakers have rechargeable batteries, amplifiers, speakers, and streaming tech all built into the device. These speakers can be placed virtually anywhere. Plus they will continue to work until recharging is needed., If the batteries lasted for weeks or months (or preferably years), we could day they were truly wireless. But they don’t. Most won’t last more than six hours without a charge. And to charge them? You need to plug them in to the wall.
While there are a ton of upsides to Bluetooth speakers, including size, portability, and ease of use, they generally have smaller speakers, don’t get exceptionally loud, and don’t exactly qualify as HiFi in terms of sound quality. If you want better sound, larger speakers, and decent battery life, you will need to sacrifice size and move up to something like the Turtlebox Wireless Bluetooth speaker. Due to these limitations, it is unlikely we would ever see a rechargeable surround speaker. The inconvenience of having it die mid-movie makes it a useless concept for enthusiasts to use. Battery technology just isn’t good enough yet.
While many companies offer a wireless speaker solution, all they are really offering is a less-wire solution. We would love for true wireless speakers to exist, but they just don’t. We will be tethered to a power outlet until someone perfects over-the-air power (power via radio waves), increased battery technology, or something else we haven’t thought of yet. I do think that at some point, we will perfect the technology needed to make truly wireless speakers a reality. But as of today, we are stuck with a less-than-perfect less-wire speaker setups.