When we talk about ‘wireless’, most people think about Bluetooth or WiFi, but true audiophiles may also be familiar with WiSA. After a promising announcement of this technology at the CES fair in 2013, it has remained relatively quiet for a long time. However, WiSA speakers have been gaining popularity in recent years. So, what is WiSA, and why is it an absolute must for your home installation?
Get Rid of Cables
WiSA, or in full Wireless Speakers and Audio, is a wireless technology that works from one point to the other, meaning from a transmitter to a receiver. So it is not a variant of WiFi connectivity quality and cannot build a multi-room system. This is a lot like Bluetooth, which is also designed to take the place between two devices.
The big difference is that with WiSA the transmitter can be a streamer/preamp, game console or other source. The receiver is always a loudspeaker. WiSA can therefore be seen as a replacement for the messy speaker cables tangles.
There have been several good attempts in the past to make the link between audio systems and speakers wirelessly. However, discerning audio enthusiasts will be more impressed by WiSA’s specifications. It enables up to eight channels of uncompressed 24-bit, 96kHz audio. This is twice the quality of common CD audio.
With multi-channel audio you naturally think of films, where synchronization between image and sound is extremely important. This has of course been addressed. According to the WiSA group, latency should be as low as zero, ranging from 2.6 to 5.2 ms. Even in a 7.1 setup with multiple WiSA speakers, the synchronization difference should not exceed one-millionth of a second.
Setting Up WiSA speakers
Setting up a WiSA connection between, for example, the Axiim Q UHD and the VEDDAN Origin speaker is very simple. A WiSA transmitter recognizes the speaker configuration in a room within 1 microsecond and will divide the audio stream coming from a source into different channels. Each channel is then sent to the correct speaker.
Stay Away from WiFi
A major problem with wireless technology is that the many connections and devices pollute the radio transmission spectrum. Original WiFi frequencies, around 2.4 GHz, are very busy. This is because, for example, Bluetooth devices and other wireless technologies also operate on them. Many new WiFi connections offer an alternative around 5 and 5.9 GHz.
On the other hand, the WiSA standard takes a completely different approach by completely avoiding the WiFi frequencies. By using a relatively unused piece of radio spectrum (U-NII, ranging from 5.2 to 5.8 GHz). This bit of frequency range is partly licensed, partly sporadic in use for military systems, and DFC rules apply to these frequencies.
This means that consumer devices are allowed to make use of it, but they must regularly check that no radar activity is detected. If this is the case, the device must immediately exit that channel and stay away for up to 30 minutes. However, in practice this never occurs. WiSA is built for use within one room, so the signals are not as powerful enough and will not pass through walls.
The Future of WiSA speakers
It is clear that WiSA is an interesting evolution in the market. The idea that your new TV connects to your WiSA speakers in a fraction of a second without using cables is very appealing. After a somewhat difficult start, more and more manufacturers are starting to deliver their products with this technology. This is great news, because who doesn’t want to get rid of that annoying cables cluster?