Sound Advice: Add wireless surround sound for $100

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 8, 2012 - 2:02 PM

Answers to your multimedia questions.

Q My wife is redecorating our family room and home theater and took the area rug out. This rug hid the speaker wires leading to the rear surround speakers. Now we are trying hard to survive on just the front speakers. It's just not the same.

How can we wirelessly add the rear speakers and return to surround sound?

I haven't been to any stores but have looked online for solutions. All I found was a wireless conversion kit that is getting poor reviews from unsatisfied customers. Even worse, at $500, it would cost more than the $399 I paid for my entire 5.1 surround speaker setup.

Bottom line, we'd like to have our total surround sound back but don't want to spend too much, if possible. Can you help? It will be used with an Onkyo TX-SR705 receiver.

A I have a solution that will cost about $100.

Your receiver has preamplifier outputs that carry an unamplified signal for each of the channels. You need to send the signals wirelessly for the surround speakers to the back of the room to be amplified.

To do this, you'll need a Terk LeapFrog LF-30S wireless distribution kit for $45, a Dayton Audio DTA-1 digital amplifier for $49, a $3 RCA stereo cable and a $5 miniplug-to-RCA cable.

Go to the back of your receiver and connect the preamp outputs for the surround channels to one wireless box using the RCA stereo cable. Connect the other wireless box to the amplifier across the room using the miniplug-to-RCA cable. Run wires from the amp to your two surround speakers.

What will happen now is that the rear channel signals will be transmitted to the rear amp using the wireless boxes. You will have to turn on the rear amplifier and set the volume independently while tweaking your receiver surround balance settings to get it to sound right, but with a little work you will balance it out.

Once it is balanced, mark the volume setting on the rear amp so when you turn it on you can just set and forget. When you turn up the main volume, the corresponding signal sent to the back will be stronger, too, so you don't have to keep changing the volume on the rear amp.

This trick can be used to send sound to other rooms, as well, although it is best suited for listening to stereo music using the front left and right outputs.

I get a lot of e-mail from readers looking for wireless solutions for surround sound. I always recommend using the wires from the receiver whenever possible, because it's simpler and will sound better. In your case, it was the only option.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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