Speaker wires and A/V cables are the bane of any home theater system. In recent years, most mainstream manufacturers have offered one of two options to cut the number of wires: produce virtual surround systems that offer only one or two speakers (plus a subwoofer); or utilize a wireless rear speaker module that eliminates the need to run speaker cables the length of the room (but still necessitates quite a few cables of its own). But true wireless A/V systems have remained elusive.
Enter Neosonik. The start-up hi-fi company is using CES to highlight its home theater technology that enables wireless audio and video. The hub of the system is a supercharged A/V controller with multiple analog and digital inputs (including HDMI 1.3 ports). In addition to performing all the standard functions of a high-end A/V receiver, the controller can wirelessly broadcast 5.1 audio channels to each of the companion speakers in the Neosonik system. Even more impressive, the controller broadcasts wireless HD video to a tiny dongle that plugs into the HDMI port of your HDTV.
We didn't get a chance to see the Neosonik video streaming in action (though CNET has seen the system prove its mettle before), but the system was delivering silky-smooth CD sound to a pair of wireless tower speakers in Neosonik's demo suite. It's impressive, to be sure, but it's worth noting that it's not completely wireless: each component (the A/V controller, the five speakers, the subwoofer, and the HDMI video dongle) needs to be plugged into the wall for power, of course. And the A/V controller will still have all of your A/V components wired into it.
That said, the Neosonik is--from a conceptual standpoint--about as close to ideal as one can expect. While we've seen wireless surround speakers (Avega Systems' as-yet-unreleased system from CES 2006) and wireless video ( ) before, the Neosonik is the first to combine them into one system.
Neosonik expects to begin shipping several wireless components and systems by mid-2007, with prices ranging from $6,000 to $10,000. But perhaps more enticing is that the company is planning on licensing its technology to other manufacturers under the name "AirPower A/V." The company is hoping that AirPower becomes a universal standard for home consumer electronics across several brands, not unlike Wi-Fi or DVD. For many of us, that's athat can't come soon enough.