There was a time when being an audio enthusiast meant living with wires. Lots and lots of wires. That was the price you had to pay for quality audio, especially if you wanted a home theater system with true surround sound. Well, if WiSA (Wireless Speaker & Audio Association) has its way—and considering how many industry heavyweights, including LG, Polk, and JBL are now on board, it likely will—your next audio system could be virtually wire free. Well, except for the wires in your power cables. I’ll get into that later.

First introduced way back in 2012, WiSA has largely been the province of all-in-one speaker/transmitter implementations from vendors such as Klipsh and Bang & Olufsen. WiSA is now concentrating on getting vendors of playback devices such as smart TVs and A/V receivers to support the standard—with great success. 

Why you might want WiSA

For starters, WiSA systems supports up to eight channels of uncompressed 24-bit audio. It’s super-easy to set up, and it eliminates cable connections between components, leaving only the power cables to worry about. WiSA delivers super-low latency, too—latency being the time it takes for an audio signal to travel from a source to emanate from the speaker.

enclave system hor Enclave Audio

Enclave Audio’s multi-channel WiSA audio system.

I’m not talking the 40-millisecond delay that’s considered low by the Bluetooth folks, but a mere 2.6ms at 96kHz sample rates (5.1ms at 48kHz), which is nearly imperceptible to humans. That means little to no compensation is required on the part of a TV or other audio device to keep audio in sync with dialog and on-screen action. That’s as great for watching movies as it is for playing video games on an Xbox or PlayStation.

What exactly is WiSA?

WiSA is an audio technology that establishes a discrete wireless local network exclusive to WiSA audio sources (TVs, receivers, video-game consoles, etc.) and destinations (speakers). It steers clear of with your Wi-Fi router and privately uses less-populated 5GHz frequency bands (with 24 RF channels available in the 5.1- to 5.8GHz spectrum) along with various techniques such as spread spectrum, error correction, and dynamic frequency hopping to avoid interference and maintain signal strength.

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Earbuds, headsets, and portable speakers aren’t in the mix yet, simply because the current shipping module that Summit Wireless Technologies, Inc. showed me isn’t small enough for those form factors, and its power consumption is still too high. The specified power requirements, however, are stated to be about the same as that of Bluetooth. So according to WiSA, those types of products remain a distinct possibility. 

WiSA has a 30-foot range and supports 24-bit resolution with sampling rates of 44.1-, 48- and 96kHz without any compression or conversion. It can handle other sample rates by up- or down-sampling the material if the playback device doesn’t handle that natively.

If you’re not familiar, the CD standard is 44,100, 16-bit samples per second, which delivers a noise floor that’s low enough that most users won’t hear digital noise, and a sampling rate that’s fast enough to capture and play back frequencies up to 22.05kHz—that’s well beyond the range humans can hear. Supporting 24 bits delivers an even lower noise floor, and a 48kHz sampling rate takes care of supposed golden ears.



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