Not for the analog crowd.
24 responses Add your response
If you really think about how small some high quality amps are, it could be feasible that an audiophile grade wireless speaker could be made in the near future. Especially since only one channel is needed per speaker. The speaker would be basically connected right at the source (the amp). And since digital signals now can be streamed with very high resolution, one day the wireless speaker may be the actual highest quality (in a digital realm). Maybe each speaker has its own DAC. Wireless set ups would really change the way we view and set up audio. The speakers could be used wireless or with an interconnect connected to preamp. A wireless Wilson speaker with a built in Mark Levinson amp would turn some heads. Also. 2 channel vs H/T would combine much easier since all the amplifier electronics is at the speaker. You would just set preamp to whatever configuration you have. This is not too far off. A manufacturer like B&W is probably already working on this.
Assuming that analog isn't part of the requirement and that AC power at the speaker is not an issue:
Wireless isn't a speaker issue, per se:
For example: Take a pair of the big, powered Meridian speakers with built-in DACs. Get them a quality digital signal and they're definitely high end. These (may, or) may not be your particular cup of tea, but they are pretty clearly an "audiophile" product. So, the only question becomes "How do you get them a quality digital signal, if you transmit it wirelessly?"
Given current wireless digital technology, I can't imagine that it would be much of an issue, but I'm not sure who's selling a quality solution for this application. Sonos offers one solution (via the zone player's digital output). However, Sonos only accepts digital input signals wirelessly, so it's not a purist solution. Someone out there probably offers a similar system that allows wired digital inputs, I'm just not sure who it is.
So, my first answer to your question is: "I think we're probably already there".
However, if your question is more geared toward a compact, all-in-one, rechargeable (i.e., truly wireless) speaker system, that's a different story. The best integrated solution of that type that I've heard is the Soundcast Outcast, which is designed for outdoor use. It's quite good for its intended application, but that's not as a high-end competitor. And it ain't small, either.
Bottom line: If you look for a wireless digital distribution system, I suspect that right now you could assemble a "speaker wire free" speaker system that is very, very good. Just not small, cheap, easy, or "clean".
I expect to plug speakers in the wall for a time being. If the speakers have built in amps (just like active studio monitors), you could have a choice between an interconnect to preamp or wireless. There is so much talk about speaker wire grades, quality, etc and much money is spent on such needed accessories. I raised a question once (and got my head bitten off) that interconnects (and speaker wire) can only produce sound only as good as the internal wiring capabilities of the component. A number of responses were that since the internal wiring was such a short length inside the component, very little degrading takes place. If that is the case, then the speaker with built in amp should be even more hi fidelity.
They've had wireless headphones for years, and they still haven't come up with any to satisfy the customer, even with just headphones.
FWIW, I can't picture Wilson going wireless, at least on their serious speakers. They isolate their crossovers from vibration. I know it's common to hear noise just tapping the board in an amp. Maybe B&O might give it a shot, if they already haven't.
I would think it has the potential to exceed the performance level of even the best cables. The only real downside is that it has no audiophile appeal. If as a group audiophiles reject the advantages of active speakers, then active speakers with built-in digital converters and wireless connectivity won't even get consideration. It's a shame.
Jamesw20:Right and, more significantly, one can stream high resolution audio wirelessly today (and I do). It is simply a matter of designing suitable applications to meet user's needs.
I like the outlaw OAW wireless system since it connects to anything. It does sound somewhat less detailed.
It's not exactly what the OP asked, but since it's related:
in a more limited domain, audiophile wireless music is easy --- stream control rather than data, since this guarantees 100% fidelity (funny enough, sending control rather than data is what google does to (in part) scale jobs to thousands of machines controlled by a single master).
If you have your music ripped (e.g., to a lossless format) stick your collection on an old laptop or an eee box, connect this via a good DAC to your system and install a music server that allows you to connect remotely and tell it what to do. You can then control everything wirelessly but retain complete fidelity since the data goes over wires.
I've been reasonably happy using the ubuntu 10.04 linux distribution and the MPD music server. The cool thing about MPD is that there are over 30 free clients for it, so you can control it from essentially any device (linux, windows, ipad, android phone, ...) for free. It's nice to sit in bed and control what music is playing on three floors by pushing a button.