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If you’re just replacing your TV with a flagship flatscreen so you can see every detail, one thing you don’t want to see is a bunch of cables—and that’s where the wireless surround sound system comes in. When it comes to cinematic magic, you don’t want to be taken out of the moment by an array of speakers in disarray. Whether you’re considering upgrading from a single soundbar to add dialogue or starting from scratch to build an enveloping home theater setup, our picks for the best wireless surround sound systems don’t compromise on audio quality and create less clutter.
Audio Sound Systems For Home
I have previewed and reviewed products—both in the pro audio and home audio realms—on and off throughout most of the 21st century for stores including
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Staff, we have tested this variation of the wireless surround sound system directly. Beyond our own experience, these wireless surround sound systems have all proven popular with expert reviewers. Each of these systems offers something a little different from the others, but they all include rear satellite speakers because we wanted to limit this list to systems that actually surround you with speakers. Some soundbars and soundbar/subwoofer combinations do an impressive job of creating a virtual surround sound environment (you can read about the best Dolby Atmos soundbars and very budget options that support object-based sound formats if you want some maximum minimalism). Still, this list is for those who want the full experience.
From a powerful two-subwoofer system to a soundbar that ditches the battery-powered rear speakers, these wireless surround sound systems address different desires for how deep an immersive sound you want to go. If filling a single room with sound is not enough, some options also allow you to develop a multiroom system. The common thread is the absence of speaker cables but the loss of physical speakers that bring true surround sound into your home.
Why it made the cut: This 2022 upgrade to a proven and robust system stack features hardware improvements and new software enhancements to make your wireless home theater a literal and figurative blast.
Even before the March 2022 update, the popular Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 wireless surround sound system (which is still available) will make this round list for its immersive, realistic sound, audio clarity, and big bass rumble from the 10-inch twins. powered subwoofers. Customers and critics alike have been showering it with praise since 2017.
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But the new system Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 eARC SSE Max is more in almost every conceivable way with hardware and software upgrades. It now has an HDMI 2.1 connection with eARC to the TV to enable the highest quality lossless audio, 4K HDR and Dolby Vision video, and features like variable refresh rate (VRR) for next-generation game consoles. It also has Bluetooth 5.0 with Qualcomm aptX HD—rare for a soundbar system—and lets you stream Bluetooth audio in 24-bit digital quality.
The SSE Max designation refers to Nakamichi’s new technology—now exclusive to this system—to create realistic 360-degree immersive audio in your home theater. It is a combination of three Spatial Surround Elevation Shockwafe audio processing engines to increase the sense of spaciousness in the soundstage, balance the mix of surround sound in all speakers, and create high audio effects for object-oriented formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Upgraded hardware includes redesigned twin-cone drivers in the soundbar, a new high-output amplifier and upgraded drivers in the subwoofer, and 2nd generation Quad Modular Surround Speakers with new silk dome tweeters and full-range twin cones. driver. A new matte-black finish and a 2nd generation backlit remote complete the update, which Nakamichi based on customer surveys, beta testing, and customer feedback. The $1,899 MSRP Shockwafe Ultra 9.2 eARC SSE Max requires a lot of space, outlets, and experimentation to find the right setup for four surround speakers, but it rewards with powerful, lifelike cocoon sound. (And a more powerful and more expensive ultra flagship to try, the quad-sub Dragon, was announced at CES 2023.)
Why it made the cut: JBL cuts even more cords out of your life with the Bar 9.1 system, which uses a soundbar to power battery-powered removable surround-back speakers that don’t have to be plugged into a wall outlet.
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If you’re looking for a wireless surround sound system with simple setup, it doesn’t get much easier or more wireless than the JBL Bar 9.1. While the wireless component of most systems means you don’t have to plug in speaker cables, you usually still have to find an outlet to plug in all of your satellite surround speakers. Unlike Bar 9.1. The rear surround speakers are detached from the main soundbar unit and can be used for up to 10 hours. When you’re done, plug it into your sound bar to recharge it in three hours. (Or you can charge it independently via MicroUSB.) While the rear speakers are recharging, you can still use the full system for virtual surrounds. When you unplug it again, it detects the distance to the soundbar to adjust the sound. But you can also use the automatic calibration tool to optimize the sound mix for the room during the initial setup or when you move the rear speakers.
For immersive 3D audio formats that deliver overhead sound like Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, the Bar 9.1 has two up-firing speakers on the soundbar and one on the satellite unit, which also has front-firing speakers. Combining the environment with the subwoofer, the 5.1.4 Atmos performance is very satisfying for a relatively compact system like this, but the Bar 9.1 also has a neutral and balanced sound that can be used for the entire audio gamut, from listening to the spoken word. material for watching the most explosive-budget movies. A refresh in mid-2023 JBL soundbar line-one of which, the JBL 700, we have had the opportunity to audition-promises to take this expandable all-in-one concept to a new, well, height (and length and depth). ) and introduced the JBL 1300X as their new flagship. That doesn’t mean the JBL Bar 9.1 is obsolete, however.
Why it made the cut: Audiophile-class sound combined with powerful internal processing in a system capable of amplifying multiroom audio.
If you want to combine your purchase, the Bluesound PULSE wireless surround sound system “by audiophiles for audiophiles” with versatile technology and the first multiroom system that supports the MQA format that “folds” and “opens” digital data to stream. high-res audio without a ton of bandwidth. With the SOUNDBAR+ at its center (seen above), combined with the dual-band WiFi 802.11ac-equipped PULSE SUB+ and two equally wireless PULSE FLEX 2i or PULSE M satellite speakers, the system can expand two-channel stereo content into a spacious soundstage. thanks to Bluesound’s audiophile-grade drivers, high-performance digital-to-analog converters, and clean and powerful Class D amplification. The eight-speaker front-facing configuration of a 1-inch tweeter, a 2-inch mid-range driver, a 4-inch woofer, and a 4-inch passive radiator—one left and one right—is optimized for music streaming thanks to a powerful quad-core ARM processor that handles high-quality audio. with blazing speed. The resulting authoritative sound handles vocals with visceral detail, while the overall tone is balanced, never artificial. The lows and mids sound warm but not fuzzy, and the treble is just right without sounding harsh.
Home Theater Audio
If you have a lot of high resolution downloads/ripping digital music, Bluesound can be used as a Roon endpoint if you have set up a compatible music server on your local network. If not, you can stream lossless music directly from your iOS device via AirPlay 2 on WiFi and/or higher-bitrate, although still lossy transmission through any device that supports Bluetooth (compatible Android devices can even connect via aptX HD). If you subscribe to Spotify and/or TIDAL, both services have a natively supported “Connect” service, so the highest quality streams will go directly over WiFi to the SOUNDBAR+, bypassing your phone. The BluOS app integrates source control, as well as offering several EQs. Connected to the TV via a single HDMI (e)ARC connection, the Bluesound PULSE SOUNDBAR, which is high in dimensions, but not aesthetically pleasing, decodes Dolby Atmos material directly but with nuance, although with height more subtlety than width due to the lack of up-firing drivers. It presents music compellingly without any processing, although there are some interesting audio modes and upmixing options to experiment.
According to our managing editor, who has experienced a full Bluesound PULSE setup, adding a pair of FLEX 2i speakers allows the sonic texture to become more open and expressive—most impactful when watching Atmos movies that match demos like.
Or when playing spatial audio selections from Apple Music on Apple TV 4K. The music, in particular, feels authentic, the good presentation of the flat facade-SOUNDBAR + with the surrounding ensures the full scope of the track without losing anything when it opens. And if you have high ceilings or a wider, more open viewing space, adding physical surround speakers makes a world of difference compared to
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