With "Wireless" being the term "du jour" in home audio these days, how does one tell it all apart or understand the difference between bluetooth, WiFi, WiSA, etc? The purpose of this article is to better explain the difference between the technologies, the advantages, disadvantages and use cases for each. The most common question we get asked is, "How is this different from Sonos" or "Is this Bluetooth?" or "Does it work on my home network?"
Enclave Audio speakers do not sit on the local area network, and purposely avoid Wi-Fi traffic, so there is no interference between audio and computers, and vice versa.
Enclave utilizes the Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) channels between 5.2 and 5.8 GHz. These channels are unlicensed, but not unregulated. The DFS channels were previously reserved for weather and military applications. Consumer devices can use these DFS channels, as long as conflicts with these important services are actively avoided. There are rules that the channel in use must be monitored for interfering with radar, a new channel must be selected in this event, and a channel must be free of radar for one minute before being selected. Enclave systems take this one step further – a new channel is selected on the event of any interference.
Our systems are required to look-ahead to determine the next open frequency. Conflicts are rare, but when the speaker system encounters interference from another device, it will automatically jump to the next open frequency without dropping any of the audio that is playing. Then, it will automatically begin looking for another open frequency, so it always has a backup DFS ready for immediate use. The result is no conflicts, no dropouts, no interference, and no hassles. Installation techs will no longer need to deal with conflicting Wi-Fi devices causing interference.
What about Bluetooth? Bluetooth speakers are not good for movies or video games, because the latency is normally a lot longer than 5ms and sync will be an issue. Bluetooth speakers are generally used as a way to listen to stereo music wirelessly from a smartphone, iPod, or MP3 player, where the latency and dropouts are less critical.
Dropouts and latency aside, Bluetooth has other limitations. Consumers may purchase a Bluetooth subwoofer or stereo sound bar, but they will not find a 5.1 Dolby and DTS certified surround sound system based on Bluetooth technology. The devices may also need to be manually paired each time they are used, to save on battery life. And what happens when the batteries die in the middle of movie night?
Another wireless speaker manufacturer making big waves is the WiFi based Sonos. Consumers can now “stream” from their iPhone to their wireless Sonos speakers. Sonos uses a mesh network technology that requires the use of your home wifi network. This technology works well if you are pushing 2 channel stereo audio to different rooms in your house. Party time!
But movie time is different. Speakers that are adequate for background music are not always adequate for films or critical listening. Qualities like speech intelligibility, timbre, dynamic range, and frequency response are important, as well as perfect silence during some scenes. No one ever said “I wish this movie was more garbled, and compressed, and had more static, pops and clicks”.
Enclave Audio and WiSA certification is a game-changer in the wireless speaker world. It IS the new industry standard for high quality surround sound in the home theater. WiSA speaker technology can also be used in portable speaker applications too. Here are some examples:
- Surround speakers that are removable. Use them for movie night or the big game and then put them away to make room, clear paths, and for charging.
- A church or house of worship movie night. Surround sound speakers can be setup in the temple, multi-purpose room, basement, gymnasium, cafeteria, , etc.
- Yoga, Pilates, and Zumba classes can be hosted in flexible event spaces like ballrooms or lobbies
- Small towns can host outdoor movie nights with full surround sound. The speakers can be setup a couple hours before each event and packed up after the film so they are not prone to vandalism.
In summary, each wireless technology has its place, but no one is offering wireless surround sound audio for the home theater with all of the WiSA benefits such as multi-channel surround sound and transmitting uncompressed, interference free HD audio that is easy to set up and easy to use.