October 13, 2011
| by Steven Castle
Want high-quality surround sound but can’t route wires for side or back surround channels?
You can now consider audiophile-grade wireless speakers.
Yes, we wrote audiophile-grade and wireless speakers in the same sentence. The concept of wireless speakers often causes hesitation and doubt. But I heard Aperion’s wireless speakers using Summit Semiconductor’s chip technology at the recent CEDIA Expo, and I have to say, much of that hesitation and doubt vanished in the uncompressed 24-bit sampled sound that emanated from Aperion’s Intimus 4T Summit Wireless System.
The Aperion Summit system includes five Intimus speakers and an Aperion Bravus 8A subwoofer, all with built-in digital receivers and dual amplifiers, along with a wireless digital HDMI hub and remote control. A 7.1 option adds two more surround speakers.
The system replaces all speaker wires with an uncompressed, 24-bit digital wireless link that transmits the sound from a home theater system to the speakers. Because the speakers are powered with amplifiers, though, they need to be plugged into electrical outlets. That’s the only wiring.
Automated Sweet Spot
The lack of speaker wire is not even the coolest part. All the speakers also have built-in Summit transducers so the system knows the locations of the speakers to within 2 inches and can adjust the sound accordingly. The remote also has this, so the system knows your location and can affect slight delays in the speaker so whoever owns the remote is in the sweet spot. That’s really cool.
Summit says the system can also boost certain frequencies in its filter pass. The wireless signal is transmitted in the 5GHz band, which Summit says is not very populated, thereby eliminating interference issues. (Wireless-N devices can broadcast in the 5.8GHz range.)
The HDMI hub, which replaces a surround sound receiver, features HD Decoding for DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD. Connections include 5.1 optical and coax, three HDMI and one output, and stereo analog inputs for iPod connectivity. OSD and LED status indicate input selection and surround mode.
The audio from the Aperion Summit system speakers was clear and vibrant, hitting a wide rage of lows and highs and without any hiccups. Concert videos and quiet music were both enveloping, without ever feeling like stimulation overload (and one can’t say that about many systems). You would never know this was a wireless set-up unless you were told so. Summit is next looking to DTV solutions, perhaps with a USB dongle, as well as wireless soundbars. An iPhone app is also in the works.
The 5.1-channel system goes for $2,500, while the 7.1-channel runs $3,000.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates