Few people cherish the thought of drilling into walls of their home to fish through speaker wiring. It’s messy work and can leave noticeable marks on the wall surface. Even if you’re comfortable doing the job, plumbing, ductwork and other items can stand in the way of your intended wiring route, making it tough to get the wire where you want it. That’s why many homeowners are turning to wireless audio systems. These types of systems can be integrated into existing homes much easier than an arrangement of wired components. And when you’re ready to rearrange the room or move into a different house, they can be repositioned or taken with you.
Just like their wired counterparts, wireless speakers come in a variety of styles to suit a myriad of listening environments. There are weather-hardy models designed for the outdoors, ones that can be placed on a bookshelf or mounted to the wall, and even speakers that can be incorporated into the 5.1 surround-sound system of a home theater.
Wireless speakers that look like rocks are a popular choice for the outdoors, (check out models from TIC Corporation ), because they can be placed just about anywhere and blend in nicely with the landscape. However, there are many other designs that can do more than just sit there—well, like a rock. LifeStyle Entertainment Group makes a solar landscape light that can also play music, Soundcast Systems makes a cylindrical shaped one with a built-in iPod dock and Acoustic Research offers them as a pair so that the sound comes through in stereo. You can also find wireless outdoor speakers that can be staked into the ground or attached to the exterior of the house.
Nearly as laborious as trenching wire into the ground for an outdoor setup, is routing speaker cabling to pair of rear surround-sound speakers at the back of your living room. A fair amount of distance can stand between the surround-sound receiver and the left and right rears, and depending on the design of the room, you may have no choice but to snake the cabling along the baseboards or underneath the carpet. Systems like Acoustic Research’s WHT6024 preclude the need for wire. They can receive audio from a surround-sound receiver and play it back as part of a 5.1 surround-sound system. If you’re in the market for a complete home theater system, the LHT888 system from LG Electronics combines a pair of wireless pedestal-style rear speakers with a right, left and center-channel speaker plus a 700-watt 5.1 surround-sound receiver and a DVD player.
With Sony’s BDV-IT1000ES or BDV-IS1000 home theater-in-a-box systems, you’ll also get a Blu-ray disc player. You’ll get everything but the TV with solutions from LG and Sony, but the companies have taken totally different approaches on the design of their wireless rear speakers: LG’s are shaped like a champagne flute and meant to be admired, while Sony’s golf ball-size speakers are intended to go unnoticed.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.