Q I am setting up a home theater. I would like to go wireless for the surround speakers so I can avoid running wires in the attic and fishing them through the exterior walls. Is there a piece of equipment you recommend?
-- T.T., Martinez
A An important thing to remember when considering wireless speakers for surround sound is that there will still be wires involved. You need to plug the speaker into the wall to power it, or connect speaker wires to a separate receiving and amplifying unit located at the same end of the room.
Outlaw Audio is an audiophile-oriented company known for making high performance audio components at affordable prices. Outlaw's OAWA3 Amplified Wireless Audio System includes a wireless transmitter that connects to your receiver's surround preamplifier outputs and a receiver/amplifier unit with speaker terminals. Simply connect the transmitter to your receiver and connect the receiver/amplifier to your surround speakers with ordinary speaker wire. You now have surround sound without running wires across the room. The OAWA3 has 20 watts per channel, which should be adequate for most uses since the surround speakers typically do not need nearly as much power as the front array. A complete outfit with transmitter and receiver lists for $319. See it at www.outlawaudio.com.
There is another solution available for anyone looking to run wires as unobtrusively as possible. Since your concern is fishing wires through walls and the attic, it may work for you.
Sewell Ghost Wire, Super Flat Adhesive Speaker Wire comes on a spool and when you look at the roll, it looks like white plastic tape. It is about the same width as duct tape, and probably is not much thicker though Sewell Ghost Wire contains two-conductor 16-gauge speaker wire and is insulated on both sides. By making the wire elements wide and thin, Sewell has managed to make speaker wire of seemingly impossible thinness.
The comparison to tape does not end there. The top side of Ghost Wire is white. The bottom is transparent, displaying the two-conductor copper wire. The transparent side has a strong, sticky adhesive that adheres to walls and floors, but does not leave residue if you peel it up. You can run Ghost Wire across a ceiling or wall and paint over it, rendering it almost invisible, or run it under carpets. Once the wire has been run, you attach special terminal blocks to the ends. The blocks that provide connections for traditional speaker wire.
I tested Ghost Wire in my home a month ago, running it on the floor when I carpeted a finished game room that previously had a tile floor. Once the carpet and pad were installed it was impossible to tell where the wire was located under the carpet, even feeling with my fingers over the area that I knew had the wire. A visiting serviceman saw the exposed terminal blocks and white tape on the baseboards and asked me what it was. I showed him the roll of Ghost Wire and explained how it works, and he exclaimed, "That's the greatest thing I have ever seen!" You really need to try it to see how cool it is.
Sewell makes HDMI Ghost cables as well, though I have not yet tested them. See Ghost Wire and Ghost HDMI at www.sewelldirect.com.
Contact Don Lindich at www.soundadviceblog.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.