Surround-sound speakers seem like they'd be a wonderful thing to have -- until you see all their cords snaking along your floor.
In this day and age, it seems like our speakers should be wireless like every other gadget in our lives. However, music lovers wanting to hear chords but not see cords have had to fork over $10,000 to get high-quality wireless speakers -- until now.
At the end of the month, Aperion Audio will release a wireless home theater system for $2,500, and the New York Times, which had four serious audiophiles test the speakers, rated them the same or better quality than similarly priced wired speakers from Sony, Yamaha, Bose or Boston Acoustics.
Reviewer David Pogue concludes, "In other words, you’re getting the wireless part free."
a black transmitter box the size of a cigar box; a wide rectangular center speaker that goes right under or over the TV; two tall, skinny, towerlike front speakers; two small bookshelf-type speakers that go beside or just behind your seating area; and a subwoofer, a huge black cube that pumps out low frequencies.
(A seven-speaker system, which adds two more surround speakers behind your couch, costs $3,000.)
The Aperions calibrate themselves, obviating the need to hire a professional for $1,000 or more to do the work. All you need to do is position the speakers so that none is blocked from the view of any other. You then press the "associate" button on one speaker, prompting the speakers to "talk" with each other with ultrasonic sound waves, revealing their position in relation to each other.
Pogue says this step "is so much fun, you’ll want to do it over and over again."
Another thing I could see wanting to do over and over again is repositioning the sweet spot. Normally, there's one particular spot in the middle of surround sound-speakers where the sound will be the best, and it never changes. With this new Aperion system, you can move to wherever you want and ask the speakers to recalibrate the sweet spot to your new location by lifting the remote to your head and pressing the MyZone button. The speakers adjust their volume and delay in order to make your head the new sweet spot -- an audible shift that occurs within six seconds.
You can also enjoy the wonders of this audio system with video, television and video games. The transmitter box allows you to hook the speakers up to your cable, DVD player, video game console, etc.
In addition to Pogue, the four who tested the system for its sound quality were Paul MacDougall, a video engineer with a strong audio background; Jason Jacoby, an audio engineer and musician; Tom Gallagher, a dedicated music lover; and Ira Fagan, the owner of a home theater installation company.
They tested it with several kinds of music and types of DVDs. They also tried it out at high volume and tested it with professional equipment. It passed all tests with flying sound waves.
The only drawback -- and this is mainly for hard-core audiophiles -- is that this is a closed system, meaning you can't upgrade just one component.
Okay, there's one more drawback. This wireless system isn't entirely wireless. You still have to plug each component into the wall.
But, who knows, if they ever make this a solar-powered speaker system, then someday, even those cords will be gone too.
If you're thinking of installing one, watch this video to learn how it works: