Subwoofers are an often-underrated part of one's two-channel or home theater system, which is a shame, for they do so much to help improve our audio experience. They help relieve stress from our amplifiers, open up soundstages and ground our favorite music and movies in ways necessary to create the illusion we so desperately crave. The problem with subwoofers is that they're often not as sexy as their loudspeaker counterparts and they require special care in terms of placement and integration in order to perform at their best, which isn't always easy to accommodate.
Take my room, for instance. One of the best places to put a subwoofer in my reference setup is along my right side wall, about seven or so feet from the front wall. It's awesome and arguably one of the best resting places for any subwoofer that comes to call. The only problem with this placement is that it requires me to run not one but two cables (subwoofer interconnect and power) across the floor and over what is the entryway to my kitchen. With a wife and three dogs in the house, you can guess how well this placement goes over. Suffice to say, I've never ended up with either of my subwoofers placed along my side walls. Likewise, I don't place one along my back wall, as the length of cable needed is just impractical.
Enter Episode's ES-SUB-WIRELESS Wireless Subwoofer kit. At $139 retail, the ES-SUB-WIRELESS allows you the freedom to place your subwoofer where you want it and not where cables or your significant other demands it to be. The ES-SUB-WIRELESS is straightforward and easy to use. It includes a small square transmitter that connects wirelessly to a smaller rectangular receiver. The main transmitter measures one-and-a-quarter inches tall by nearly four inches wide and four inches deep. The receiver, or "dongle," as I like to call it, measures one inch tall by nearly two inches wide and three-and-a-half inches deep. Both are lightweight, with the transmitter weighing a scant four ounces and the dongle a mere one-and-a-half ounce. Both the transmitter and receiver connect to your AV receiver, preamp or subwoofer via unbalanced RCA-style inputs. Both require their own DC power and come with the appropriate power cords, as opposed to sucking off their host component.
The two pieces communicate with one another via a proprietary wireless signal, not unlike what is used in the pro world. Episode claims the ES-SUB-WIRELESS' wireless signal is impervious to other Wi-Fi signals, such as 802.11 a/b/g/n, as well as microwaves and Bluetooth devices. The ES-SUB-WIRELESS uses a form of Frequency Hopping, or FSK modulation, for lowered latency and extended range (up to 50 feet).
Integrating the ES-SUB-WIRELESS kit into an existing home theater system is easy. Simply place your subwoofer where you want it to go. In my case this meant just off my kitchen entryway. Then plug the receiver into the sub's RCA or LFE input and plug the subwoofer and the receiver into the nearest wall outlet. From here, you simply have to run another interconnect or subwoofer cable from your AV receiver or preamp's subwoofer output into the transmitter, then plug it in, too. On the bottom of the transmitter, there is a small button that begins the syncing process. Press this. Then, with the help of a paperclip or pin, press the corresponding button on the receiver and within seconds the two are forever linked. You can even link a second subwoofer, provided you have an additional receiver for it. The whole process is painless, trouble-free and takes but a few minutes to complete.
As for the ES-SUB-WIRELESS' performance, it works as advertised, creating an unbreakable bond between transmitter and receiver that sounds every bit the same as if you were utilizing your subwoofer via a hardwired connection to your AV receiver or preamp. It's wonderful. Regardless of where I placed my subwoofer in my room, it worked - provided I had a nearby outlet with two free receptacles. One minor issue that I did take note of was the ES-SUB-WIRELESS' tendency to showcase or cause ground loop hums. Wire routing between the transmitter and my AV preamp proved to be the culprit and was easy enough to deal with and eliminate, but nevertheless, the extra wires and sensitive wireless network did make it easier for hum to become an issue.
Read about the high points and low points of the ES-SUB-WIRELESS on Page 2.High Points
• The ES-SUB-WIRELESS costs as much as some
interconnects needed to facilitate proper subwoofer placement, yet it
doesn't clutter up your floor with its obvious presence, making it a
better aesthetic solution - one that is high in WAF.
ES-SUB-WIRELESS allows you the freedom to place your subwoofer anywhere
in your room (within 50 feet), meaning you can finally place it where it
sounds best and not just where you think you can accommodate it.
• The ES-SUB-WIRELESS' one-time setup procedure is simple enough that even a caveman could do it.
The ES-SUB-WIRELESS kit works as advertised and was virtually
indistinguishable in terms of audio quality from that of a hard-wired
• For whatever reason, the
ES-SUB-WIRELESS kit is susceptible to ground loop hum, meaning careful
cable management is a must to ensure the utmost clarity and performance.
Competition and Comparison
Wireless subwoofer technology is
becoming a hot topic among enthusiasts and manufacturers. A few other
companies offering wireless setups are Aperion Audio, MartinLogan, Sunfire, GoldenEar and others. The nice thing about the ES-SUB-WIRELESS kit
is that it works with all subwoofers, not just those made by Episode
loudspeakers, which is not the case for products like those from Aperion
Audio. For more on wireless technology and subwoofers, please check out
Home Theater Review's Subwoofer page.
my time spent with the ES-SUB-WIRELESS kit from Episode is a first, I
see the appeal, for having a wireless subwoofer setup allows the freedom
to set one's subwoofer up in a location that is truly beneficial
without having to worry about lengthy cable runs and/or angry spouses.
While careful cable management is a must to ensure a clear transmission
between transmitter and receiver, it is a small caveat, for the
ES-SUB-WIRELESS kit is a great product and should serve all who purchase