Can I Use Wireless Ceiling Speakers for Dolby Atmos?

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Q I’m ready to upgrade my surround sound system to a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos configuration. My current 5.1 system uses GoldenEar Technology speakers, which I want to keep. Here’s my problem: I have no way to run wires through the ceiling to mount in-ceiling speakers, and I don’t want to deal with the unsightly wires that an on-ceiling speaker installation would require. Here’s my question: Are there any wireless speakers I could use for my Atmos upgrade? —Michael Henn

A None that I can think of. Outside of Bluetooth speakers with a built-in rechargeable battery, truly “wireless” speakers don’t exist. Even powered speakers—ones that don’t require a wired connection from an amp — still need to connect to an AC outlet via a power cable.

So, what is someone who wants Atmos, but is unable or unwilling to accommodate in-ceiling speakers, to do? Fortunately, Dolby has a solution: Atmos Elevation speakers. An Elevation speaker is a module that sits on top of your existing speakers and conveys the height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks — something it does using an up-firing driver array that bounces sound with a narrow dispersion pattern off the ceiling. Elevation speakers also work in tandem with an Atmos-capable receiver to model a frequency response associated with head-related transfer function (HRTF), a type of processing that in this case tricks your brain into hearing sounds coming from overhead. Manufacturers including Klipsch, PSB, Definitive Technology, MartinLogan, and ELAC make Dolby Atmos Elevation speaker modules, which are priced in the $150-$600/pair range. GoldenEar Tech doesn’t, however, so if you run with the Elevation speaker option you’ll have to mix-and-match.

SVS offers another unobtrusive Atmos speaker solution with its Prime Elevation speaker ($199/each). Designed for placement high on a wall near the ceiling, Prime Elevation speakers feature an angled front baffle and fire sound down toward the listening position. According to SVS, they provide a more flexible alternative to standard Atmos Elevation speakers, which require a relatively high and flat ceiling to be effective. Also, since they use a standard crossover design with no HRTF processing, SVS claims that its Prime Elevation speakers can distribute height effects over a wider seating area than regular Atmos Elevation speakers.

IraBob's picture

I'd be very interested to read an update to your answer, now that the choices of wireless speakers has been expanded over the last few years. Thanks