Achieve surround wirelessly
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Q: The wife is "freshening" the family room/home theater area and took the area rug out. This rug hid the speaker wires leading to the rear left/right surround speakers of our home theater. Now we are trying very hard to survive on just the front left/right/center speakers. It's just not the same and we're barely hanging in there, so on behalf of myself, my 14 year-old daughter, Kate, and my 11-year-old Sarah we need to ask, how can we can wirelessly add the rear speakers and return to our surround sound?
I haven't been to any stores but have surfed the Web for solutions. All I found was a wireless conversion kit that is getting "two thumbs down" from unsatisfied customers. Even worse, at $500 it would be more than the $399 I paid for the entire 5.1 surround speaker setup.
Bottom line, we'd like to have our total surround sound back but don't want to spend too much if possible. Can you help us? It will be used with an Onkyo TX-SR705 receiver.
A. I have a solution that will cost about $100. Your TX-SR705 receiver has preamplifier outputs that carry an unamplified signal for each of the channels. We need to wirelessly send the signals for the surround speakers to the back of the room to be amplified.
You will need a Terk LeapFrog LF-30S wireless distribution kit for $45, a Dayton Audio DTA-1 digital amplifier for $49, a $3 RCA stereo cable and a $5 miniplug-to-RCA cable.
Go to the back of your receiver and connect the preamp outputs for the surround channels to one wireless box using the RCA stereo cable. Connect the other wireless box to the amplifier across the room using the RCA-to-Miniplug cable. Run wires from the amp to your two surround speakers.
What will happen now is the rear channel signals will be transmitted to the rear amp using the wireless boxes. You will have to turn on the rear amplifier and set the volume independently while tweaking your receiver surround balance settings to get it to sound right, but with a little work you will balance it out.
Once it is balanced mark the volume setting on the rear amp so when you turn it on you can just set and forget. When you turn up the main volume the corresponding signal sent to the back will be stronger, too, so you don't have to keep changing the volume on the rear amp. This trick can be used to send sound to other rooms as well, though it is best suited for stereo music listening using the front left/right outputs.
I get a lot of emails from readers looking for wireless solutions for surround sound. I always recommend using the wires from the receiver whenever possible as it is simpler and will sound better. In your case, it was the only option.
Cambridge SoundWorks Radio update: The Cambridge SoundWorks i765 radio I recommended a few weeks ago sold out and some readers were unable to get one at the 20 percent-off promotional price. I have been in touch with Cambridge SoundWorks and they are making plans to accommodate everyone who missed the deal. Check back next week for more information.
First Published June 17, 2012 12:00 am