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Soundcast SurroundCast Wireless Surround Sound System Review
Pop quiz, hot shot: There's an A/V receiver and speakers at the front of your room. You've got another pair of speakers you'd love to use as surrounds in the rear of the room. Trouble is, there's no easy way to run speaker wire from the front to the rear - and it's 20 feet away. What do you do?
If you ask the folks at Soundcast how to deal with that problematic front-to-rear speaker wiring, their answer is simple: take it out of the equation. The all-too-common scenario described above is precisely what gave rise to Soundcast's SurroundCast wireless surround sound system. Comprised of a wireless transmitter, an amplified wireless receiver, stands for both units, and speaker wire to run between your A/V receiver and the transmitter, the only thing you need to supply is one pair of speakers and enough speaker wire to connect those speakers to the wireless receiver unit.
To test the SurroundCast, I connected the Left Surround and Right Surround speaker outputs on my Onkyo A/V receiver to the corresponding inputs on the SurroundCast wireless transmitter. Next, I connected a pair of Polk's awesome TL2 satellite speakers to the receiver unit in the rear of my family room. The distance between the transmitter and receiver was roughly 20 feet, and I used the included stands to have the transmitter and receiver units face each other as Soundcast recommends for optimal performance.
Popping in my Blu-ray copy of Jan de Bont's Speed, I was immediately thrilled by the fact that I suddenly had activity in the rear half of the room. The metallic echoes of that tense steel cable reverberating around the elevator shaft finally filled the room the way a fronts-only speaker configuration could never fully manage. Soundcast claims a low 15ms latency to get the signal from A to B, but that's virtually impossible to detect when you're talking about rear channel speaker activity.
The receiver's amplifier puts out 60 watts and this is more than sufficient to handle what most surround channels are ever asked to do in a 5.1 soundtrack. Power is more apt to be an issue when playing music, but unless you're really rocking out in "All-Channel Stereo" or "Extended Stereo" mode on your A/V receiver, the SurroundCast is perfectly capable of driving the average speaker duo. I played a few tracks on my Goat Rodeo Sessions CD and I'd be hard pressed to tell you those were "wireless speakers" serving up my Yo-Yo Ma; everything I listened to sounded just great.
It should be noted that if your cordless phones or Wi-Fi router is sharing the 2.4Ghz band, you might encounter some interference or disruption of your audio signal. My home's router and phones both run on the 5.8GHz band and I didn't experience any interference to speak of, but it's something to be mindful of all the same.
- Super simple to install and configure
- Excellent sound quality
- Rear speaker placement flexibility
- Can also be used for multi-room stereo audio
- Somewhat pricey
- 2.4GHz wireless band may encounter some interference
- Slightly underpowered compared to most A/V receivers
The SurroundCast is one of those products where if it's doing its job well, you don't even notice it's there. Essentially a wireless extension cord between your A/V receiver and rear speakers, the SurroundCast modestly provides an elegant solution to a common problem. If you've been trying to figure out a way to get some rear speakers into the mix without making a mess, you'll definitely want to give the SurroundCast a long, hard look.
Manufactuer's Product Specifications:
Manufacturer's Contact Details:
Soundcast Systems Inc.
881 Kuhn Drive Bldg 200
Chula Vista, CA 91914
Phone: (619) 591-0126
On the web: www.soundcastsystems.com
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