The Acoustic Research WHT6024 is the latest in a barrage of attempts at a wireless surround speaker system. Keeping in line with others we've tested, the wireless solution bundled with the WHT6024 is simply not wireless--in fact, there are more wires used in this $800 system than most wireless solutions we've tested in the past.
The WHT6024 is a full 5.1 system, with five identical satellite speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer. The satellites are fairly tiny as speakers go--about only 8 inches tall--and utilize a two-way design, with dual 3-inch drivers flanking a centered half-inch tweeter. The speakers carry a black metallic brushed design with steel grilles (not silver, as seen in some early photos still floating around on the Web).
Such small speakers lack palpable bass, of course, so the low frequencies are handled by the 125-watt subwoofer. The hefty 36-pound black box fills out at 16 by 10.5 by 15.5 inches, and sports a 10-inch front-firing woofer under a removable cloth grille. The active (powered) unit also boasts an impressive range of connectivity, including both line and speaker level inputs, as well as flexible crossover settings and level controls.
As with nearly all such systems, the wireless aspect of the WHT6024 is limited to the two rear speakers, thus eliminating the need to run speaker cables to them from your AV receiver (which is likely in the front of the room). That's exactly where the "wireless" promise begins to break down. Acoustic Research designed the wireless system in a way so that the included left and right rear speaker stands double as the wireless receivers and mini-amplifiers. What this means is that each surround speaker stand must be supplied with its own individual AC power. Not only is this another logistical detail to consider when laying out a 5.1 system, but it creates a wired mess. Moreover, we had a few problems with the stands, too: Tweaking them for optimal height takes some time, and our stands didn't tighten properly, which forced us to modify the attachments for a sturdier feel.
To get the wireless surround speakers working, you'll need to set up the included 2.4GHz transmitter. The tiny box accepts the two sets of speaker wire from the AV receiver and beams it--via radio frequency--to the rear speakers (the transmitter needs its own AC power, as well--yet another wire). Once that is complete, you'll need to sync the transmitter with the two speaker-stand receivers by pressing buttons located on either of the bases. Once synced, the two rear speakers gave off a loud "pop."
Acoustic Research claims that the WHT6024 utilizes "digital spread spectrum 2.4GHz circuitry with a Quality of Service (QOS) channel that continuously and seamlessly avoids any potential interference." Indeed, during our testing, the several nearby Wi-Fi routers and access points operating on the same 2.4GHz frequency range seemed to have zero effect on the wireless speakers' audio quality.