How Does Wireless Surround Sound Get Power?

home cinema components image by Nikolay Okhitin from

In the age of home theatres and surround sound experiences, different technologies keep creeping up to satisfy different tastes. One of the options, a wireless surround sound system keeps things cord free and neat in the house.

Although its a more expensive option, it may be the perfect solution for those who want their home theatre to be as subtle as possible in appearance.


Generally with a home theatre system, there are connections between the peripherals (DVD player, Blu-ray, cable box) to the TV and to the surround sound transmitter. Although wireless surround sound systems might ostensibly seem to have absolutely no connections, this is inaccurate on two accounts. First, there is a physical audio cable that connects the peripheral to the transmitter, so wires in a "wireless" system do still exist to an extent. Secondly, it's not that the surround speakers are unconnected to the receiver, they just communicate via radio or Bluetooth signal similar to how a radio picks up signals from a station or a hand-free device can communicate with a cell phone.


The receiver and all the speakers for a wireless surround sound system all require a source for power. Generally, the power come from an A/C current and will plug into a wall outlet. This does incorporate more "wires" into the equation. However, these wires plug into a nearby outlet as opposed to running cables between the speakers as it required for non-wireless options. There are several models of battery powered surround sound systems that will eliminate power cables (not from the transmitter, however, which almost always is plugged in) in the speakers. This option will require occasionally changing out the batteries. Plus, as a method of preserving battery life, the speakers should be turned off when not in use. Some may find that difficult if the speakers are in awkward or hard-to-reach locations.


The obvious advantage of the wireless option is its elegance and neatness. Many people perceive a surround sound system as a bunch of cords littering the room. In many instances, they are not wrong. A wireless system also allows for more options in placement of speakers (i.e. mounting them into a ceiling corner) than a wired system might. The speakers can also be placed through walls if that option is desired.


Although the technology for wireless speakers is improving, it still has a way to go before it can match the clarity and consistency of wired speakers. In most cases, a wireless system will not be quite as good, with some elements of background noise or static (the noise is unnoticeable when there is audio playing but might be bothersome when just left on). Also, if it uses Bluetooth technologies to transmit the signal, it is often best to have a professional install it, as specific placement is essential for full effect. Lastly, they are generally more expensive than wired options.


With the freedom of a wireless system comes the advantage of placement. For surround sound to have full effect, the speakers (generally five, although it varies) must be at angles to engage the viewer. In many cases, placing the speakers higher in the room and angled downward is preferred, but again this should be positioned for individual preference.