Hands-On With A WiSA Wireless 5.1 Home Theater System

Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 YSA Wireless Speaker Package
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The key to a great home movie experience – beyond finding yourself an awesome TV – is a great sound system. But if you’ve ever tried to buy an A / V receiver and all attendant speakers, you need to build a 5.1, 7.1, or fancier surround sound system, you’ve noted that it can be an expensive and complicated commitment.

All those speakers need to be wired to the receiver, which in many cases hides the speaker wires under the carpets or runs them through walls or ceiling cavities. For some, it’s a fun DIY challenge, but for most people, it’s so hard that they find themselves toward the next best thing: the soundbar.

Now, the soundbar is a great solution to get better TV sound. They are simple and cost-effective, especially if you go with a single-speaker option such as the Bose Smart Soundbar 300, or a Soundbar Plus wireless subwoofer such as the Vizio V21 series. However, these systems will not provide the kind of complete sound that a dedicated set of wired speakers can provide, which has prompted many soundbar companies to model with additional speakers and subwoofers.

Pollock’s React soundbar, with its optional wireless subwoofer and rear surround speakers, is a great example, as is the Vizio M-series.

Some of these systems also have the 3D effect of Dolby Atmos and DTS: X through the use of X-firing altitude channel speakers – although this could easily send the price of a soundbar system rising well over $ 1,000.

But neither of these soundbars is a true replacement for a wired, discrete speaker system. They do not allow you to place left, right, and center channel speakers in specific locations, and do not use a correctly matched set of speakers for most channels.

Furthermore, with very few exceptions, they do not give you the freedom to be able to change any of your components as your needs, your room, or your budget change over time.

YSA, wireless speaker cable

YSA diagram with TV, transmitter and wireless speaker

Fortunately, there is a third option. YSA, which stands for Wireless Speaker and Audio Association, is a technology that distances traditional speaker cables from lossless, high-res wireless connections. Unlike Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, YSA is strictly for single-room, Hi-Fi applications – and a growing number of speaker and TV companies such as LG, Klipsch, and Bang & Olufsen are making products that work with YSA We do.

A YSA system has two main components: a YSAA compatible speaker (s) and a YSA wireless transmitter.

Instead of taking a deep dive into YSA in this article, I encourage you to read our in-depth YSA lecturer. This is everything you need to know about how YSA works, and you need to install your own YSA-based home theater sound system.

What that interpreter has not discussed is actually how to set up and use a YSA system, which is probably where you are here. Let’s get into it.

WiSA experience

Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 YSA Wireless Speaker
Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 Front Left Channel Wireless Speaker Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

To find out what it’s like to use a YSA system, the association tuned digital trends to the $ 999 by THX Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 immersive wireless home audio system speaker package. It has a matching set of four speakers for the front and surround left / right channels, a center channel speaker, and a subwoofer.

The real secret sauce, however, involves the YSA Soundsend. It is a small, black hockey puck that acts as a hybrid of A / V receivers and wireless transmitters to pull audio output from your TV and send it over the air to six wireless speakers.

As long as there are electrical outlets within six feet of the places you want, all you have to do is plug the speaker in, then plug the Soundsend into the power and your TV (via HDMI ARC or an optical cable), and you’re pretty Enough is enough.

In our case, Monaco speakers were prelabeled with their positions (front right, front left, surround left, etc.), but with other YSA speakers, you can assign positions as you would with the YSA Soundsend app. Let’s see fit within, which we will discuss further.

Lots of controls, but no remote

YSA systems, generally speaking, do not come with their own remote control, which can be a trickle. Instead, they are intended to be controlled with the remote control of your TV. If your TV is a YSA-ready TV, such as LG’s 2021 OLED and NanoCell TVs, all the speaker settings are accessible from the on-screen menu.

The YSA Soundsend feature included with our debtor Monaco system can also be controlled by your TV’s remote (if you connect it to your TV via HDMR ARC). But because Soundsend is designed to work with any TV, not just a YSA-ready model, you’ll need to use the Soundsend app for iOS or Android to adjust the system’s settings.

The app is easy and intuitive, with all of the various settings distributed in four tabs: speaker trim, speaker settings, audio settings, and advanced settings.

It serves as a simplified version of the A / V receiver. You can correct the sound by indicating the distance from each speaker and your chosen speaker locations. If the resulting sound is still not quite right, the app gives you a level adjustment for each speaker. The center channel is helpful to increase its volume if you are having trouble listening to the dialogue, or to the surrounding speakers, if they are too close to your listening area and you need to bring them down a notch.

There are also several ways for the system to work with EQ, including a sound sync adjustment when the screen does not match what we are hearing; Many EQ presets such as Movie, Sports, Night etc., which emphasize different frequencies; And when you want control of the sound, a full five-band EQ.

One thing you cannot control: crossover frequency. Soundsend automatically pollutes the connected YSA speakers and adjusts the crossovers to match their rated capabilities.

After the installation of Monaco speakers, it was a breeze to twist its settings in the app, and Soundsend responded to volume and mute commands from our TV’s remote.

One thing I look for in the YSA add is the convenience of a room calibration. Many soundbar models and most A / V receivers come with an accessory microphone that can be positioned near the field of view. The system will run some automatic sound checks and use the mic to determine what should be changed based on the phonics of your room.

In an ideal world, the YSA would use your smartphone’s built-in mic for this function, much like Sonos does with its TruePlay room-tune feature.

True 5.1 sound

My typical home theater setup is a fully wired, 5.1.2 system that is a mix of energy and monitor audio speakers powered by Pioneer A / V receivers. Incidentally, the center channels and satellites provided in the Monaco 5.1 system are a fairly close match in terms of size and design.

With the exception of the Monaco subwoofer, which struggled to produce low-end shaking the same furniture that could produce my energy sub, both systems performed equally well.

The balance of Monaco speakers out of the box is extremely neutral, with no emphasis on highs or lows. When watching movies, speech is crystal clear, and surround sound effects are kept with precision. Some of my favorite action titles of the past decade, such as Marvel Avengers: Endgame, John wick 2, And Mad max fury road There is a complete cure, even though the low-frequency effects of the subwoofer are more subtle than those used to me.

I’ve reviewed some very good soundbars, such as the $ 800 Sonos Arc and the $ 800 Bose Soundbar 700, and each can make an impressive immersive soundstage. But there is no option to have a set of dedicated, matched surround speakers pointed at your head from either side of the couch.

The combination of a dedicated center channel with four, full-range speakers allows Monaco to eliminate multiple directional sounds that can often be a by-product of drivers being in front of the listening space. Instead, Monaco – like all good dedicated 5.1 systems – transforms sound into something that moves fluidly around you. And it is as enjoyable for music as it is for movies. But, as we will see below, it is not always easy to get the music you want.

The YSA wireless connection worked perfectly the entire time I was using the system with no signs of dropout or sync issues.

Most movies

Platen Audio Monaco 5.1 YSA Wireless Speaker
Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 Center Channel Wireless Speaker Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Audio is a cinch for installing and using a YSA speaker system like the Monaco 5.1. But it quickly becomes clear that the YSA Soundsend is mostly for TV-based audio and not other sources such as hardware such as Bluetooth, Chromecast, Airplay, or CD players.

If you are using HDMI ARC for your TV, you can connect a second device to the Soundsend via the optical port, but the only way to switch between these two sources is the Soundsend app.

WiSA believes that since most new smart TVs have apps for streaming music services such as Spotify and Apple Music, you will also use your TV to listen to music. WiSA applies the same principle to wireless streaming from your other devices: Your TV is expected to support Bluetooth, Airplay, and Chromecast.

This creates a problem for owners of older TVs. Our test TV, for example, is an LG C7 4K OLED TV. It does not support AirPlay or Chromecast and its WebOS software does not have apps for Apple Music, Tidal or YouTube Music.

The TV also lacks support for HDMI EARC, so even though Soundsend is compatible with lossless audio formats like Dolby TrueHD, there is no way to send that format to Soundsend (HDMI ARC is only for lossy formats like Dolby Digital Plus Supports).

In theory, you can solve this problem using the HDMI switcher. If you want to use a UHD Blu-ray player as a source for Dolby TrueHD, you can plug it into the HDMI switcher and send that signal to Soundsend. But this creates a somewhat complicated setup.

Your Blu-ray player must support two HDMI out (one for audio and video and just one for audio), and you have to wire one of them to the TV HDMI input and the other to the HDMI switcher.

Then to make all this work, you have to set your TV to the correct HDMI input and set the HDMI switcher to the correct input. This may or may not be a thing that you can accomplish with a single remote. This defeats the purpose of a simple setup that YSA enables.

In fairness, the WiSA Soundsend is one of several WiSA wireless transmitters. The $ 1,199 Axiim Q UHD Wireless Media Center is very close to a true A / V receiver with multiple HDMI inputs and a 4K, HDR-compatible HDMI output, but what you get is very expensive.

Almost awesome

So where does this leave us?

Installing YSA-capable speakers is easy – especially if they come in advance like the Platin Audio Monaco 5.1 – is actually as easy as setting up a soundbar.

The YSA Soundsend is also incredibly easy to use between moving from your TV to a wireless speaker.

But Soundsend’s design puts the full burden of media playback on your TV, which may not be able to deliver the streaming apps you want. By adding a streaming media device to your setup like Chromecast with Google TV, you’ll find most apps (and wireless streaming) that your TV may lack, but it can’t overcome the HDMI EARC shortage of older TVs .

This solution also means that you will need to turn on your TV, even if you only want to listen to streaming music, something that not everyone will like.

Still, if you’re mostly looking for the option of wiring a home theater speaker to your TV, the YSA ecosystem makes a ton of sense. Each wireless speaker and even Soundsend can be swapped over time with new components, which gives you a choice: one-time, easy investment, or a fully modular system that gives you the ultimate in optimized sound Allows mixing and matching to get.

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