Rear speakers have been pretty much the bane of my existence for most of my married life. OK, let me back up for a minute. I love stereo equipment. To me, it ranks right up there with my mobile devices. I have been an aficionado of multi-channel sound since it was first introduced back in the early 1990’s. While 5.1 surround sound (and now 7.1) is a phenomenal way to add an extra dimension to your television and movie watching experience, it does come with one major drawback. The rear speakers, which must be on the opposite side of the room, must somehow attach to the stereo. Typically, this has meant running speaker wire across the room.
When I was in college, and even law school, there was no problem with running speaker wire straight down the middle of the floor. Frankly, it was quickly lost in the mass of dirty underwear, clean underwear, old food, and empty beer bottles. When I got married, we rented an apartment and I somehow convinced my new wife that it would be a good idea to string the speaker wire across the ceiling. I don’t think I have a picture of this, but needless to say, it was not pretty. I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler on a piece of paper, let alone string wire upside down from the ceiling.
When we bought our first house, my wife wised up and said that any wires had to be hidden. There, and in our next house, I was able to run the wires along the baseboard without any problem, and this provided an adequate solution. In our current home, however, there is a beautiful open floorplan. I absolutely love this design, except when it comes to rear speakers. Now we have a problem because there is nowhere to hide the wires.
For a long time after we moved here, we had no rear speakers at all. I just could not find a way to make it work without stringing wires through the middle of the room. And my wife learned her lesson on that one. So, for much of the first year we lived here, we suffered through stone age sound coming through the front channels only. Then, I found a set of speakers that transmitted sound over the electrical lines. I rushed out to buy them…they were expensive and heavy. They were also terrible. They frequently had no signal and when they did pick up the signal, the sound was often distorted. So, I was back where I started with no rear speakers. We lived like that, seemingly in the audio stone ages for some time before I got a recent email from Judie. It seemed she had been given the Rocketfish speaker kit by accident and asked would anyone be interested in reviewing it. Well, I know a good opportunity when I see one, and I jumped at the chance, in the hopes that I had finally found the answer to my years long speaker dilemma. Read on to find out whether this truly was the answer I sought.
Before I continue, I should back up and tell you exactly what the Rocketfish speaker system is. I was somewhat surprised to find that it includes no actual speakers. Instead, it is a transmitter and receiver which sends the rear speaker signal wirelessly from the 2.4 Ghz transmitter to the receiver which is connected to your existing speakers. The unit ships with:
- a wireless transmitter (sending unit)
- a wireless receiver
- a stand for the receiver
- an AC power adaptor for the sending unit (the AC power adaptor for the receiver is already attached)
- two, 2 foot speaker wires
- a user guide
Setting the unit up is easy. Simply connect the transmitter to your amplifier or stereo receiver with the enclosed speaker wire (or any speaker wire. Good speaker wire is cheap at Radio Shack). Simply connect it as though you were connecting speakers by attaching the speaker wire to the rear speaker out ports (right and left) on your stereo.
Next, connect the receiver to your speakers using speaker wire. Make sure all of the terminals are correctly attached, or you could end up with a criss-crossed signal. One thing you will notice about the receiver is that it can be placed in almost any position to match the needs of your space. It can sit on a table, stand on an end in the included holder, or even hang from the wall. This is a prefect acknowledgment of the fact that we all have different and unique needs when it comes to our space.
I did find it odd that the package included only two speaker wires, since it takes two wires to attach the transmitter, and an additional one for each speaker, for a total of four wires. So, you will still have to buy two more. Of course, you will also have to provide your own speakers, so presumably you may already have enough speaker wire. Plug in each of the units and you are hooked up and ready to go. Frankly, it is no more difficult than attaching any other speaker wire in your system. If you are already using a 5.1 (or 7.1) channel surround sound system, then setting this up will be absolutely no problem.
Now that the speakers are connected, and both units are plugged into the wall, all you need to do is power them on to make a connection between the transmitter and receiver. Push the power button on the back of the transmitter. The red light will begin to blink, indicating that it is in standby mode. Press the red power button on the back of the receiver, and it will enter standby mode as well. Both units are pre-paired to connect with each other, so once both are in standby mode, they will automatically seek each other out and establish a connection. When a connection is established, the red lights will stop blinking.
Once a connection has been established, just start listening to your system and enjoy the full surround sound experience. I was extremely impressed by the quality of the sound coming through these speakers. I did not notice any significant difference or degradation in the sound quality when they were hooked up to the wireless receiver than when they were connected directly to the stereo. I have definitely found my solution to the wireless speaker dilemma.
According to the manual, you can leave the speakers powered on and connected, even if there is no signal coming from your stereo system. This is convenient, because it would mean that you don’t have to reach behind the couch to press the button on the receiver every time you want to turn it on or off. Unfortunately, I did not find that was the case. When I connected the Rocketfish to my system, it had no problem as long as a signal was being transmitted, however, once the signal stopped (such as if I turned off the system), then the speakers would emit a loud feedback noise. As such, it was not possible to leave the receiver on when there was no signal coming from the stereo. Thus was unfortunate and inconvenient, but did not significantly deter me from using this system. This is the first solution I have found which allows me to use my rear speakers without stringing speaker wire across the ceiling. And that has made my wife an extremely happy woman.
Name: Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit
Where to Buy: Rocketfish
What I Liked: Obviously, I loved getting my rear speakers back without messy wires strung across the room Setup was easy, and sound quality was fantastic.
What Needs Improvement: Feedback when receiver is left on without a signal from the stereo. Should have included four lengths of speaker wire, instead of two.