New Wireless Audio Standard is Coming
Better wireless audio, means easier home integration.
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December 15, 2011 by Julie Jacobson

Lumden tells us that Polk in the past has not wanted to overwhelm its speakers with pricey wireless technology because it “tends to cheapen our value add.”

He hopes that a standard will help drive down the cost of wireless technology.

Lumden says Polk has vetted the Summit technology: “I’m confident it works well and sounds good.”

Even so, Lumden would not comment on any future product plans for Polk and Definitive, including whether or not the companies would actually ship WiSA-compatible products in the future.

WiSA Rollout

In addition to Polk and Definitive from DEI Holdings, Aperion, Klipsch (a subsidiary of Voxx, previously Audiovox), Pioneer and Sharp are the other consumer electronics manufacturers on the WiSA advisory board. They are joined by Silicon Image, Summit Semiconductor and electronics manufacturers Hansong Electronics and Meiloon Industrial Co.

The WiSA 1.0 spec is expected to be completed in March 2012, just in time for the opening of an authorized testing center (ATC) in San Jose, administered by SI’s Simplay Labs.

The goal, as with other standards, is to ensure interoperability among WiSA-certified components “so that when a consumer sees WiSA on a package … when they get home it’ll work,” Venable says, adding that the goal is to enable surround-sound systems to be up-and-running in 30 minutes or less.

WiSA won’t comment on the product roadmap of its members, but Venable tells CE Pro that we’ll be “seeing product at retail certainly in 2012.”

For its part, Aperion is now showing 7.1 surround sound using Summit technology and Venable says we can expect to see “new developments” at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2012.

Polk’s Lumden wonders how retailers might demo a full WiSA experience – a perennial challenge for audio resellers—but WiSA’s Venable says the custom integrators he’s spoken with seem amenable to the technology.

“I was pretty apprehensive if they’d embrace it,” he says. “But they say, ‘First of all, we don’t make too much money pulling wires. It really increases the cost.”

Secondly, without wireless, “there are certain markets we can’t play in because we can’t drill holes,” dealers have told Venable.

Apartments and other rentals, as well as existing brick- and cement-constructed homes in Asia and Europe, will now be prime prospects for new surround-sound systems.

About the Technology

The Summit (WiSA) technology supports 16- or 24-bit audio up to 96 kHz in configurations ranging from stereo to 7.1 surround sound and beyond. It is a lossless format, with bit-for-bit rendering.

Venable tells CE Pro that latency is a respectable 160 nanoseconds, mitigating lip-sync and other synchronization problems.

For best results, WiSA recommends a space no larger than a 30 x 30-foot box. And while line-of-sight is not required for the wireless to work, it can certainly improve performance.

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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