B&O to launch first WiSA-compliant high end speakers
By Paul Ridden
October 7, 2013
Denmark's Bang & Olufsen (B&O;) has revealed that it's the first high-end speaker manufacturer to incorporate technology based on the recent Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA) open standard. Instead of using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi in the heavily-populated 2.4 GHz frequency band, the forthcoming speakers will be capable of wirelessly receiving audiophile-pleasing, high definition, uncompressed audio over the U-NII radio frequency spectrum.
WiSA is an industry group created in 2011 to encourage wireless audio interoperability between multiple equipment makers. Its members include Klipsch, TEAC, Pioneer, Sharp, Gibson, and Summit Semiconductor. Association member Hansong announced a WiSA-compliant HDMI audio hub and a HDMI adapter on September 18, and other member companies are expected to launch WiSA-certified products in the coming months ... so if you don't see a WiSA logo on audio and video tech at the moment, it shouldn't be too long before you do.
Rather than battle for a presence in the heavily-congested 2.4 GHz waveband, the WiSA platform uses the 5.2 - 5.8 GHz range. This is said to provide enough bandwidth for interference-free transmission of uncompressed 24-bit wireless audio at sample rates of up to 96 kHz, together with system configuration and calibration data. It also ensures that enough channels (front, rear, right, left, center, and so on) are available for setups ranging from a pair of speakers up to a 7.1 surround sound system.
The WiSA standard's fixed latency of 5 ms should put an end to compression-induced latency problems that can result in audio from wireless speakers being out of sync with TV dialog or immersive gaming. Rapid and robust error detection and recovery should also cater for hiss-, click- and pop-free listening.
B&O; has now brought together its active speaker technology and the WiSA platform, and called it Immaculate Wireless Sound. The first IWS speakers are set to launch later this month, along with some new WiSA-compliant televisions. There's no need to invest in a new B&O; TV to enjoy the IWS speakers, though, as they'll be able to wirelessly connect with any WiSA-certified TV, Blu-ray player, or AV receiver.