Wireless subwoofers to pair with ceiling speakers

  • 15 May 2011
  • 6 replies

Userlevel 2
We're based in the UK and have recently installed a Sonos system using Opus ceiling speakers in all rooms.
We have quite high ceilings and are not that impressed with the overall sound. We think that adding subwoofers would help this but it's too late to add wired ones!
Which would be the best wireless subwoofers to use for sound quality and which don't interfere with the Sonos system?

6 replies

Welcome to the forums.

There have been tales of problems with wireless subwoofers/surrounds/headphones which use digital transmission in the same 2.4GHz band as Sonos.

Unless they operate on a fixed channel these devices use a technique known as 'channel hopping' to avoid interference from other users of the 2.4GHz band. Unfortunately this process can result in interference to Sonos, the symptoms being sluggish controller response and audio dropouts.

I had to return a pair of headphones which caused such problems. Thankfully Amazon didn't quibble.

Whatever you choose - and I'm unable to recommend any I'm afraid - be sure to select a retailer with a returns policy.
helen Thickett,

I agree with ratty's caution about wireless audio gadgets causing trouble.

Describe what is wrong with your sound. I'm not so sure that adding subwoofer would improve things. In large, high ceiling rooms with hard walls, reverberation time (a form of echo) is a common issue. An extreme example of reverberation is the transportation terminal when the announcer speaks too fast. The room is not done with the previous word when the next word comes along. The result is a jumble for the human.

Adding more bass could add some interest, but it will not absorb or mask the reverberation. You can test my hypothesis by adding absorbers. Close the drapes, raid the linen closet, and scatter the folded contents about the room, import blankets, pillows and winter clothing, and scatter the seat cushions around the room. Yes, this will create a mess, but it will absorb some of the reverberation and prove or disprove my point.

If this mess improves the situation, you have some hard decisions to make.

Another point to consider is that ceiling placement of speakers results in a diffused sound that lacks the focus of speakers located at ear level and about as far from each other as you are from the speakers. Ceiling speakers are fine for background music applications, but many users feel this is not the best location for serious listening.
Userlevel 2
Thanks for that.

I think you're right about the sound quality from ceiling speakers. We were going for aesthetics by keeping the speakers as unobtrusive as possible but seem to have made a mistake with the sound quality.

I didn't mention that we have wooden floors too, so that's not going to help! We're not going to be able to rewire for floor standing speakers, and i guess that wireless floor standing speakers will have the same interference issues as the subwoofers!

Can anyone recommend wireless floor speakers though, I may give them a try?
Userlevel 2
Are the ceiling speakers boxed and sealed from above?

Usually ceiling speakers are open at the back and can benefit from having the cavity space above them boxed and sealed.

Creating a sealed box around the speaker (assuming that you have room in the ceiling space) usually improves the sound quality, especially the bass.

I didn't mention that we have wooden floors too

Somehow, I sensed that. Adding an area rug and a thick pad will help with the reverberation. Also, adding a tapestry (backed with a thick pad) can help. Or, adding heavy liners to drapes.
I've had quite a lot of success using SoundCast wireless units alongside my Sonos system. I use the OutCast portable speaker with several iCast transmitters fed from ZP90s to give me full coverage in my garden. I don't seem to suffer any issues with wireless interference - there are 3 channels on the iCast & OutCast that are switch selectable. I've not idea if these relate to channels 1, 6 & 11 in wifi terms but that is how I use then to keep channel separation.

SoundCast have transmitters and receivers that can be used with subwoofer and speaker systems so may offer a solution.

Are the Opus speakers conventional units running from an amp wired with speaker cable or are they active units (integrated amplifiers)? If they are passive speakers then you could always consider a speaker upgrade to 8" units for instance if it is simply a case of improving bass response. The other thing to make sure is that they speakers are wired correctly to ensure that you are not running out of phase which can also affect the sound quality.


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