Tech review: CineHome offers great home theater sound without wiresJuly 13, 2016 8:46am

July 12-- Anyone who's been to the movies lately knows why many people prefer to stay home and watch movies.

If you're seriously into movies, you've thought about setting up a home theater in your house to try to replicate the movie theater experience without all the distractions.

The movie theater experience involves a TV or projector showing the film and perhaps a home theater surround sound system.

My first home theater system was called a Home Theater In A Box, which included a cheap receiver and 5 cheap speakers-two front, two surround and a center channel speaker with no subwoofer.

I'm sure it sounded impressive to my ears 25 years ago, and I seem to recall having to buy lots of speaker wire to get all the speakers connected to the receiver.

Until recently, if your house wasn't pre-wired for home theater speakers, you were stuck trying to find creative ways to run wires around your living room baseboards or you drilled holes in your walls or ceiling to run wires through the attic.

Because technology is a wonderful thing, we now live in a time where our home theater speakers are wireless, and they actually sound good.

There is a new wireless standard for speakers called WiSA, which stands for wireless speaker and audio.

WiSA uses radio frequencies between 5.2 giaghertz and 5.8 GHz. The channels were formerly used by weather and military applications, but they've been repurposed for consumer devices.

There are a few WiSA systems available now, and the most affordable is the Enclave Audio CineHome HD system ($1,199).

The CineHome HD system provides 5.1 audio, which means you get 5 speakers (two in front, two surrounds and a center channel) plus one subwoofer.

The system doesn't need a separate receiver. The CineHome HD's center speaker also handles all the inputs and outputs.

Setup is foolproof.

You unbox each speaker, place it appropriately and plug it into AC power.

Though the components need no speaker wires to provide sound, they do require power, so your room will need six unused power outlets.

I had the system unboxed, set in place and powered up in 15 minutes.

Each speaker is clearly labeled (right front, right rear) and more importantly, each power supply is labeled as well. The different sized speakers use different power supplies, so having them clearly marked makes it easy.

When you plug in each speaker, a small blue LED flashes slowly. When the center speaker module is powered up, all the other speakers just magically connect to the system. It just works.

Once all the speakers are plugged in and working, you'll need to connect the center module to your television via HDMI cable. The CineHome HD system uses your TV to display its menus for setup and configuration.

During my setup, I thought I could just use the speakers without a TV and play some music through my iPhone, but I didn't have a way to see which input was active without seeing the onscreen menu.

The center speaker module has three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, optical audio in and an aux-in jack (3.5mm) as well as Bluetooth audio to connect your smartphone or tablet. There is cool little LED on the back near the ports you can press a button to turn on the light so you can see the ports and their labels.

There is a small remote to control volume, input selection and changing sound settings. All the remote buttons are also found on the top of the center channel module.

SPECS

The CineHome system has six custom-tuned speaker enclosures with 14 individually designed speaker drivers.

According to Enclave, "any HDMI or SPDIF (Optical) input remains digital from the source with zero conversion to analog until it leaves the speaker enclosure's built-in amplifier to the speaker driver itself."

Each speaker has its own built-in amplifier, but Enclave doesn't provide power output specs.

The center speaker and front speakers uses a bass reflex design with one 20mm tweeter and two 80mm mid-range/woofers. Frequency response is 100Hz to 20kHz.

The surround speakers use a bipole design with two 50mm full-range drivers with a frequency response of 100Hz to 20kHz.

The subwoofer uses a bass reflex design with an 8-inch driver and a frequency response of 28Hz to 100Hz.

The true magic of the system lies in the wireless network the speakers form when powered on-you don't an existing Wi-Fi network.

The CineHome HD system can decode DTS 5.1 Digital Surround, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, along with Dolby Pro Logic II.

There is a free Enclave app for your smartphone, but I didn't find it any more convenient than playing music through the native apps on my iPhone.

IN USE

I thought the CineHome HD system sounded very good-certainly better than any TV's built-in speakers and better than most inexpensive "home theater in a box" systems I've used or heard.

You can adjust the volume of individual speaker pairs and the subwoofer, but there was no tone adjustment for treble or bass.

Enclave designed the CineHome HD system to sound good with a minimum of setup or adjustment needed and they've succeeded.

COMPARISON

In researching WiSA home theater systems, it seems there are three manufacturers making wireless systems right now-Enclave, Klipsch, and Bang & Olufsen.

The Enclave CineHome HD costs $1,199, the Klipsch costs about $5,000 while the Bang & Olufsen system will set you back more than $25,000 (although it includes a TV).

Expect more players in the WiSA market, but for now, the Enclave system is a bargain, which I still find amusing, since it costs about $1,200 for a home theater setup.

The system was dead simple to set up, worked seamlessly with my TV and provided great 5.1 surround sound.

If you've been itching for a wireless home theater setup, the Enclave CineHome HD should be the first system you explore.

Also, in doing some research, it seems Enclave is soon to offer 5.2 or 7.2 sound if you spring for another set of speakers and a second subwoofer.

___

Pros: Inexpensive (compared to other WiSA systems), easy to set up, good sound

Cons: No tone controls

Bottom line: If you want WiSA, it's hard to beat Enclave for the price.

___

ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at jrossman@dallasnews.com.

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