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Enclave Audio Cinehome HD 5.1 review: Wireless 5.1 audio for less, but wires still sound better

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The Good The Enclave CineHome HD is an easy-to-install "wireless" 5.1 surround speaker system that sounds better than most sound bars. The rear bi-poles are a nice touch. The subwoofer is large and provides the sound with real guts.

The Bad Performance and build quality don't come close to wired systems. We wish the Enclave CineHome HD had tone controls, and adjusting the volume of the subwoofer isn't straightforward.

The Bottom Line The Enclave CineHome HD may not look or feel like a $1,000 home-theater system, but the sound, at least by wireless standards, is pretty good.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

The future may be wireless, but today's home AV systems still require a rats' nest of wires.

Plenty of wireless audio and video schemes have appeared in recent years, but none have come close to dethroning the mighty copper strand. They include the "line-of-sight" dependent Wireless HD, which was supposed to take over from HDMI, but unsurprisingly, didn't. Bluetooth was more successful, but it has its drawbacks, too. The latest is promising technology called WiSA, which stands for Wireless Speaker and Audio.

The Enclave is the second system based on WiSA we've seen in recent weeks, and unlike the too-expensive Klipsch Reference Premiere, it keeps the price relatively low while still managing to get rid of the speaker wires. Aesthetically it's pretty ugly, and some of the functions are hard to find -- turning down the sub is difficult for example. However, it's a likable system and sounds decent for the $1,199 asking price.

Design and features

Rather than some far-future wireless tech tour de force, the CineHome looks like your standard, boxy collection of compact 5.1-channel speakers. It's finished in matte-black.

enclave-5-1-wireless-system-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The remarkable part is that the system is wireless and controlled by the "Smart Center" speaker, using the WiSA standard. Each of the speakers plugs into a standard AC power outlet and communicates over the 5GHz band to the Smart Center. The top of the Smart Center features a small control panel (finished in piano black), and the remote control is also finished in gloss.

enclave-5-1-wireless-system-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Center houses three HDMI inputs for your gear, and one output for your TV, as well as an optical port and 3.5mm stereo input.

The mains are less compact at a foot tall and feature dual drivers and a soft-dome tweeters. The rears are bipoles, which are designed to give a more diffuse sound. The system is completed with the addition of the 8-inch wireless sub.

enclave-5-1-wireless-system-02.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Like the Klipsch WiSA system, the Enclave doesn't support DTS:HD or Dolby TrueHD, but it will read PCM soundtracks (as well as standard Dolby and DTS). While we thought the lack of HD sound processing was an oversight on the $5k Klipsch system, it's a little more forgivable here.

If you're looking to stream music from your phone the Enclave includes a Bluetooth connection. The company also offers an Enclave smartphone app designed to emulate controllers from the likes of Sonos and Sony. While it compiles several streaming apps into the one place, it's no substitute for a real Wi-Fi solution like Sonos or even Chromecast Audio.

Setup

enclave-5-1-wireless-system-02.jpg

True "wireless" is still a pipe dream for most home cinema systems, including the Enclave

Sarah Tew/CNET

CineHome HD's hookup is straightforward. Plug each of the five speakers into a wall outlet, connect your sources -- Blu-ray player, satellite/cable box, games, etc. to the center channel speaker -- and you're ready to go.

Helpfully each speaker is labelled (left, right, etc.) so there is no configuration step. You just have to make sure each speaker is placed properly.

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