There are many scenarios where running cables to your surround speakers can be very troublesome. Who wants to crawl through their attic and run 1 or 2 measly cables to get signal to their rear speakers? Definitely not me, I’ve crawled through my fair share of attics, and I can vouch that it’s not a fun time at all. Wireless speakers are the next big thing in audio/video setups, but not everyone will want to fork out the money for high-end wireless speakers.
You may be wondering, can you convert your current surround sound speakers to wireless speakers? Yes, you can do this very easily by using a wireless speaker kit. These wireless speaker kits make regular speaker wireless by sending the audio signals via RF (radio-frequency). You may also need to connect a separate amplifier to the speakers to provide power, as most of these kits do not provide power to the speakers.
There are various scenarios for using wireless technology to provide a signal to your speakers. We will go over how these wireless kits make regular speakers wireless, as well as, how these kits should be set up. Most are pretty simple to configure, so don’t worry!
How does a wireless speaker kit make regular speakers wireless?
Wireless speaker kits make regular speakers wireless by sending the audio signal via an RF (radio-frequency) signal. You can simply add a wireless speaker kit to provide a high-quality wireless signal to your surround speakers. These kits contain a transmitting and receiving unit. The transmitting unit accepts inputs from the receiver or other sources and “transmits” it to the receiving unit. The receiving unit then processes the signal and routes it to whatever is connected to its outputs. As mentioned above, you may need to add a separate amplifier to power the speakers because 1) power doesn’t travel wirelessly (duh), 2) most wireless speaker kits don’t have a built-in amplifier, 3) a lot of rear speakers are passive and not active (they don’t supply their own power). If the receiving unit contains a built-in amplifier, it will usually provide a very small amount of power, I wouldn’t suggest using this. A separate amplifier is much more reliable. Note: RF is the same signal that WiFi utilizes, a lot of kits operate around 2.4GHz. So be aware of where your router/WiFi access point is located because they could potentially cause interference.
How to set up a wireless speaker kit
This can get semi-complicated depending on your speaker set up and the kit you use. I will do my best to generalize and give enough information to set up a kit for most scenarios. You typically will only use one of these kits for your rear speakers and/or subwoofer. Running cables to the front channel speakers is relatively simple because the receiver is usually located close to the speakers. The rear speakers are almost always located far from the receiver/amplifier. The subwoofer has multiple locations that it can be set. So whether you run a cable or use a wireless kit is dependant upon where it is located. Running the speaker wires can be tedious depending on the layout of the room, this is where the wireless transmitting and receiving comes in. If you have any questions, just leave a comment, and I will do my best to answer your question!
1. Choose a wireless speaker kit
There are two main types of wireless speaker kits.
- No built-in amplifier. It only sends an audio signal and requires an additional amp to power the speakers.
- Contains a built-in amplifier.
I recommend getting a kit with no built-in amp because it’s likely that the power output from the wireless receiving unit is very low. Much less than what your current receiver/amplifier will output. Keep in mind the inputs available on the transmitting unit and the outputs available on your A/V receiver. If your receiver has pre-outs (RCA outputs for the different speaker channels before power is applied), then you can simply connect RCAs from the receiver to the transmitting unit. If your receiver does not have pre-outs, then make sure the transmitting unit accepts regular speaker wire as an input. Or you can use a line level adapter (example) to convert speaker leads to RCAs. Some kits will include an input and output for a subwoofer as well! A lot of subwoofers include a built-in amp, so this is usually really simple to connect. I will go further into how everything connects later on.
Wireless Speaker Kits with No Built-in Aplifier
Here are a couple of kits that do not contain a built-in amp. Note: I’m not including prices because they change constantly. Also, if you have active speakers then definitely choose a kit that doesn’t have a built-in amp.
Nyrius NY-GS10 (See Picture) – This is actually an Audio/Video wireless kit, but you don’t need to use the video in/out. It has the best reviews out of all of the wireless kits I could find.
TP-Wireless – Uses 3.5 mm Aux for inputs and outputs. This kit will require a few adapters to get everything connected properly.
Rocketfish – This product is labeled as a wireless subwoofer transmitter/receiver kit, but with the inputs and outputs available, you can actually use it for 2 rear speakers and a subwoofer.
Remember that these kits don’t supply power for the speakers, just the audio signal. I suggest using a mini amplifier to actually power the speakers.
Wireless Speaker Kit with a Built-in Amplifier
The OSD WRSK-250 Subwoofer and Speaker Kit (on Amazon) is a transmitter and receiver kit that contains an amplifier on the receiving end. These are much less common than regular non-powered kits.
Like I said, most wireless receiving units don’t supply very much power. The example provided only supplies 25 watts of power per channel. This could potentially be far less than what your receiver or amplifier is capable of providing.
However, the nice thing about this unit is that it has line out RCAs for the speakers and the subwoofer. So, you could use a separate amplifier if you would like. But at that point, it wouldn’t be worth the higher cost to get a kit with a built-in amplifier. Just food for thought.
2. Connect the Transmitter
Once you have chosen your wireless speaker kit, it is time to actually make your regular speakers work wirelessly! First, you will need to connect the transmitter to the receiver or amplifier. The transmitter sends the audio wirelessly using RF. Depending on the kit you chose there will be different options for inputting the audio signal. The transmitter will have a speaker wire, RCA, and/or Aux 3.5mm input available.
For speaker wire inputs, connect normal speaker wire from the two speaker outputs on the receiver to the inputs on the transmitter.
For RCA inputs, connect RCA cables from the pre-outs on the receiver to the transmitter’s RCA inputs.
If your transmitter only has a 3.5mm input, then you will need an RCA to 3.5mm adapter to connect the receiver to the transmitter. Once you have the inputs for the transmitter connected, plug the AC power adapter into it and a power outlet.
3. Connect the Receiver.
Now that the transmitter is connected properly, it’s time to connect the wireless receiver to actually make regular speakers wireless. Again, depending on the wireless speaker kit you choose and the speakers being used, things can vary a little. Below are a few scenarios for different kit and speaker setups, and how to connect everything properly.
Using a separate amplifier (More common)
If using a separate amplifier, you will need to connect RCAs from the receiving unit to the amplifier. Then connect speaker wire from the amplifier to the speakers. The receiving unit provides the signal to the amplifier, then the amplifier applies power to that signal and sends it to the speakers.
You would do this if the speakers being used are passive. Meaning the speaker(s) do not have their own power source or an internal amp. And of course, you will need to plug the AC adapter into a power outlet and connect the other end to the receiver.
Using a receiving unit with a built-in amplifier (Less common).
If the receiving unit happens to contain a built-in amplifier (not likely), then making the connections is very simple. Connect speaker wire from the receiving unit to the speakers. Then connect power for the receiver. Simple as that, but keep in mind, the power provided by the receiving unit is probably very low. So don’t fully expect the connected speakers to output a tremendous amount of sound.
The speakers contain an internal amplifier (ie. using active speakers).
Some speakers simply plug into a wall outlet and use an internal amp as a power source, thus it only requires an audio source to actually output sound. With an active speaker, your wireless receiver doesn’t need an amplifier.
Just connect RCAs from the receiving unit to the speaker and voila, your speakers are working wirelessly. Also, you will still need to connect the power adapter for the receiving unit. There really isn’t any way around that.
4. Test the System!
Now, with everything connected, it’s time to test the system!
First, let’s make sure the receiver is receiving a strong signal from the transmitter. If the sound produced by the connected speakers contains static, sounds unclear, is delayed, etc. then you should probably adjust the position of the transmitter and/or receiver. Also, check the all the connections and ensure all cables are secured properly. Some transmitters and receivers have multiple “channels” that can be manually set. Try changing the “channels” around to see if this improves the sound quality.
Once you have the best signal possible, you may need to adjust the levels of the speakers. The wired and “wireless” speakers should have similar sound levels. You don’t want the front/wired speakers to be extremely loud and barely be able to hear the rear/wireless speakers. The levels can be adjusted on either the receiving unit, amplifier, or both.
And if everything is set up and working properly, then you have successfully learned how to make regular speakers wireless!
It’s pretty simple to make regular speakers wireless! You just need the right equipment and the knowledge of how to set everything up.
I hope this article provided enough information for you to understand how to correctly set up this type of system. If you don’t want to go through all of this (it really not that much), you can simply purchase a wireless speaker system. But, be warned, high-quality natively wireless speakers are not cheap!
You can buy a decent set for a cheap price, but it’s likely that they will not have a lot of power behind them. The higher priced sets are usually much more efficient in producing sound. However, in my opinion, setting up a wireless speaker kit is not all that difficult! If you already have speakers and have a lower budget, then go ahead and try using a wireless speaker kit. It might surprise you at how well it can work!
If you are ever experiencing some issues with your speakers, then check out this article on 9 basic troubleshooting steps for fixing home theater speaker issues.