January 27, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger
While companies such as Micromega raised eyebrows on the electronics side of wireless audio at CES 2010, several companies were making sweet music to the ears of those who want to reduce cable clutter of a surround-sound system.
Polk Audio was one of those, as the company used an engaging demonstration of an “August Rush” Blu-ray in conjunction with Polk’s sound system comprising one of its SurroundBar units for the front channels and its new Wireless Surround F/X for those surround effects. I took a seat on the couch of Polk’s Venetian Hotel demo room to hear it for myself.
The Blu-ray clip was a scene filled with street noises whirring from everywhere, making great use of all channels in the system. Director of sales Dan Wakefield had a good time noting the looks on visitors’ faces as they began looking around for what presumably was a set of wall- or ceiling-mounted rear speakers.
To everyone’s surprise, they would be directed to look down at the floor, behind the couch that served as the listening sweet spot. That’s where the compact Wireless Surround F/X speaker sat unassumingly. About the size of a small dipole surround speaker, the Polk product features four 2.5-inch full-range drivers and a 5.25-inch woofer, powered by a small multichannel DSP amplifier.
I knew where the unit was placed, but my ears were just as pleasantly fooled while I lounged during “August Rush.” As Wakefield promised, the surround effects seem to arrive from about head level as well as from both left and right despite coming out of a single box. Between the soundbar and the wireless speaker, the combination proved quite effective at filling the room with surround sound.
A three-position DSP control helps optimize the audio image for floor, table and shelf applications, Polk says, opening versatile placement options for installers and homeowners. Look for Wireless Surround F/X in Q2 of this year for $399.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
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