Wired Vs Wireless Audio/Video Systems

As technology continues to evolve, there are more and more options available for wireless home theater systems and wireless audio/video. Wireless audio video transmitters make it possible to easily install the surround sound or complete home audio system you want without putting holes in your walls or having to conceal unattractive wires.

But, as with all technology, there are both upsides and downsides to wired and wireless home theater systems. Understanding both will help you make an educated decision that will result in a system that functions the way you want it to and that gives you the listening experience you’re striving for. It’s also worth noting that no system can be 100% wireless – some wiring will be required.

Generally speaking, a wireless home theater system is a good solution when you are renting your living space or otherwise want a system that can easily be dissembled and reassembled somewhere else. It’s also a sound choice when you aren’t interested in in-wall or in-ceiling installation and you don’t want to have to disguise wires. Lastly, wireless home audio systems offer flexibility, allowing you to add new components or additional speakers without having to re-wire or reconfigure your system.

A wireless system is very similar to a regular wired system but includes two additional components. These are a wireless audio video transmitter, which is built into your stereo receiver, and a receiver, which is built into your wireless speakers. The purpose of these two components is to establish a range of communication among the various components, often up to about 300 feet. The wireless audio video transmitter device allows you to broadcast DVDs, CDs, MP3s, satellite/cable, PC, gaming console, streaming video and more to any TV or stereo system in your home or office. Some wireless systems are able to transmit full 1080p high-definition signals.

One factor you may want to pay attention to when shopping for a wireless home audio system is whether it is composed of line-of-sight pieces or if it allows for concealed placement. Some lower quality wireless receivers must be within direct sight of the transmitter, whereas others transmit signals through obstacles such as walls or cabinets and can be placed anywhere within the range of the system.

There are also a wide variety of wireless speakers on the market today, from complete surround sound systems to outdoor speakers and sub-woofers that resemble boulders, planter boxes, terra cotta pots and more.

In addition to speakers, you can choose wired or wireless displays as part of your wireless audio/video system. A wireless display allows you to wirelessly stream movies, music and other media from your laptop computer to a larger, television-sized screen for viewing and listening. Current technology requires that you have an adaptor and an HDTV with HDMI or A/V input connectors if you want to use a wireless display as part of your home theater system. A wireless display can also be used in conjunction with a traditional wired home theater system.

One potential downside of a wireless system can include interference, which can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which may be beyond your control. Sources of interference can be electromagnetic, such as from small appliances near your system, or from structures in your neighborhood such as a cell phone tower or electrical transformer. Wall thickness and construction can also cause interference.

Another possible downside of a wireless system is the use of batteries to power your speakers and sub-woofer. Whether you choose to use rechargeable or disposable batteries, needing to keep a supply of batteries on-hand is something you’ll want to keep in mind. There are also wireless speakers that draw power through a standard outlet, but then you lose some of the flexibility you would otherwise get.

Many experts agree that one of the greatest advantages of a traditional wired home audio system is that interference is rarely an issue, and some argue that the overall sound quality is superior. Using a wired system does require that you plan out your system in advance, but the end result is often a complete home audio system that performs exactly as you want it to. You can create a multi-zone system that allows you to use your MP3 player in one room, stream a movie in your living room and listen to the radio in the backyard all at the same time. You can also conceal speakers by installing them in your walls or ceiling.

Ultimately, deciding whether a wireless or wired home audio solution will suit you best depends on how you answer these simple questions:

  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • How willing are you to plan your system from start to finish, or to work with a professional who can do this for you?
  • Do you want to be able to install your system yourself?

As technology continues to evolve, both wired and wireless systems are sure to improve. Fortunately there are already a number of high quality wired and wireless audio/video solutions to choose from today.