One of the biggest complaints about 5.1-channel speaker systems, beyond, you know, all those speakers, is the necessity of running speaker wire everywhere. With Klipsch's latest system, no speaker wires are required.
The RP-440WF surround set -- or to give its official name of the Klipsch Reference Premiere HD Wireless 5.1 Speaker System -- is a tidy all-in-one which offers ridiculously easy setup, and the cohesive home-theater surround sound only a matched multispeaker system can provide. No, it's not completely wireless, because you'll still have to plug each of the individual speakers into power outlets, and connect your gear to the base station via HDMI or whatever, but it's a heck of a lot closer.
The biggest drawback? The price. The $999 list is for one of the RP-440WF speakers, and you'll need at least two. The price of the entire system including all five surround speakers, sub and control center is $5000. For this kind of money, you can assemble a much better-sounding wired speaker system from Klipsch or ELAC or any of a dozen other speaker brands, and get a full-featured AV receiver to boot. Until the price of the HD Wireless 5.1 Speaker System comes down and the feature count goes up, it's just not worth it for most people.
Design and features
While "WiSA" sounds like it could be a Jar Jar Binks' catchphrase, it's actually short for "Wireless Speaker & Audio." It's a new standard designed to simplify setting up a multi-speaker home theater by ditching the wires.
In Klipsch's system, it means you don't have to run wires from an AV receiver or amplifier to each speaker. Instead, each speaker has its own built-in amplifier and must be plugged into a power outlet. Sound is transmitted wirelessly from a small box Klipsch calls the HD Control Center ($499), into which you plug your components. It has four HDMI inputs (one with 4K compatibility), optical and coaxial digital, analog and Bluetooth.
The speakers we received consisted of the slim, statuesque Klipsch RP-440WF towers ($1,999), largish RP-440WC center-channel speaker ($799), RP-140WM bookshelf/surround speakers ($999), and substantial RP-110WSW subwoofer. Based on looks alone, the Klipsch HD Control Center was a bit of a letdown -- it's a no-frills plastic slab. In addition, we had no love for the slender remote's nearly impossible-to-read control buttons.