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The Enclave CineHome HD may not look like a $1,200 home-theater system, but the sound, even by wireless standards, is pretty good. Don’t expect the same audio chops as similarly priced wired systems.
Wireless Speaker Systems 5.1
Ty Pendlebury graduated in journalism from RMIT Melbourne, and has been working since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
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Steve Guttenberg, a former movie theater projectionist, also worked as a high-end audio salesman and record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
The Enclave CineHome HD is an easy-to-install “wireless” 5.1 surround speaker system that sounds better than most sound bars. The rear bi-pillar is a nice touch. The subwoofer is big and delivers sound with real boldness.
Performance and build quality are nowhere near wired systems. We wish the Enclave Cinehome HD had a tone control, and adjusting the subwoofer volume isn’t easy.
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The Enclave CineHome HD may not look like a $1,000 home-theater system, but the sound, even by wireless standards, is pretty good.
Many wireless audio and video schemes have appeared in recent years, but none have come close to breaking the mighty copper strand. This includes “line-of-sight” dependent Wireless HD, which was supposed to replace HDMI, but surprisingly didn’t. Bluetooth has been more successful, but it also has its drawbacks. The latest is a promising technology called WiSA, which stands for Wireless Speakers and Audio.
The Enclave is the second WiSA-based system we’ve seen in recent weeks, and unlike the very expensive Clips Reference Premier, it keeps the price relatively low while managing to ditch the speaker cables. Aesthetically it’s a bit ugly, and some functions are hard to find – it’s hard to lower the sub, for example. Still, it’s a desirable system and sounds decent for the $1,199 asking price.
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Rather than some far-future wireless tech tour de force, the CineHome looks like your average, boxy collection of compact 5.1-channel speakers. It has a matte-black finish.
The notable part is that the system is wireless and controlled by “Smart Center” speakers using the WiSA standard. Each speaker plugs into a standard AC power outlet and communicates on the 5GHz band with the Smart Center. At the top of the Smart Center is a small control panel (finished in piano black), and the remote control is also finished in gloss.
The center has three HDMI inputs for your gear and one output for your TV, as well as an optical port and 3.5mm stereo input.
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The mains are less compact at a foot tall and have dual drivers and soft-dome tweeters. The rears are bipoles, designed to provide a more diffused sound. The system is completed with the addition of an 8-inch wireless sub.
Like the Klipsch WiSA system, the Enclave doesn’t support DTS:HD or Dolby TrueHD, but it will play PCM soundtracks (as well as standard Dolby and DTS). While we thought the lack of HD sound processing was an oversight on a $5k Klipsch system, it’s a bit more forgivable here.
The Enclave has Bluetooth connectivity if you want to stream music from your phone. The company also offers an Enclave smartphone app designed to emulate controllers from the likes of Sonos and Sony. While it brings together multiple streaming apps in one place, it’s no substitute for a true Wi-Fi solution like Sonos or even Chromecast Audio.
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CineHome HD hookup is straightforward. Plug each of the five speakers into a wall outlet, connect your sources — Blu-ray player, satellite/cable box, games, etc. to the center channel speaker — and you’re good to go.
It helps that each speaker is labeled (left, right, etc.) so there are no adjustment steps. You just need to make sure that each speaker is placed correctly.
The Enclave Audio app allows users to stream services like Tidal and Spotify but connects via Bluetooth. Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury/
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If you prefer to listen to your stereo recordings in Dolby Pro Logic II-processed surround, there’s really no need to understand the onscreen menu options. If you prefer stereo over stereo, some menu surfing is in order.
Adjusting the amount of individual components is not the most intuitive process. You have to press the up button on the keypad (volume) and then hold the right key until it lets you cycle through each speaker on the screen. The dedicated speaker volume setting in the menu is preferred.
One of the things you may experience when using this system is that it turns on — the video plays — but the buttons and sound don’t work. This may be because the on light is blue, as you would expect, but the off light is a brighter blue. Note to the Enclave: Forking out an extra cent for a red off LED can save a lot of potential frustration.
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The CineHome HD sets itself apart from all the sound bars we’ve tested by instantly filling compact listening rooms with true cinema surround sound. The speakers sounded crisp and clear, and the subwoofer delivered a decent amount of bass.
That’s great — five speakers can fill a room better than one, so CineHome HD sounds closer to what we’d get from a regular home-theater-in-a-box system with five smaller speakers and a subwoofer. The advantage of CineHome HD over old ‘box systems is not sound quality per se, but WiSA wireless technology that simplifies setup tasks. It worked flawlessly during testing.
Cinehome HD’s room-filling sound precedes “Gravity” Blu-ray; No sound bar can come close to bringing this space drama to life. The subwoofer roars enough to add authority to the sound, and conversation is natural and clear. Spinning CDs, the CineHome HD again proves itself to be an above-average performer, but the subwoofer doesn’t provide enough oomph to the music, so the speakers are too thin.
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The CineHome HD retails for $1,199 — more expensive than most sound bars and older home-theater-in-a-box systems, and for less money you can buy better sound with a fully wired system. At least we thought so, so we connected our SVS Prime satellite system, but since we couldn’t see two of the five Prime sats, we switched a pair of Elak Debut B5 speakers to the surround channels. The complete SVS Five Satellite/Subwoofer package retails for $1,000, finished in Black Ash. We connected the SVS system to a Denon AVR S500BT 5.1 channel receiver ($249).
Listening to “Gravity” again with the SVS/Denon system warmed up the sound, and the dynamic effect took on a more visceral intensity, thanks in large part to the powerful SVS sub. That monster is louder, the bass goes deeper with better definition than the Cinehome HD Sub. SVS/Denon’s front-to-back surround immersion is more seamless. It’s no contest really, going back to the Cinehome HD system the sound lacks body and fullness, so it feels like a smaller system, even though the speakers on both systems are close in size.
In the continuation of Eminem’s “Live from New York City” concert DVD, the performance gap between the two systems is more pronounced, albeit modest. When we turn on the music, the sound of the CineHome HD becomes thin; The SVS/Denon is more relaxed when playing louder.
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Once we settled on less demanding fare like “Mad Men: Season Five” and the first “SAW” flick, CineHome HD’s talents were more than matched by wired systems.
The Enclave Cinehome HD has a lot going for it. Setup is a snap, the wireless technology works well, and the overall sound quality is very decent. As a lifestyle system upgrade to your TV’s built-in speakers or a step up from a sound bar, CineHome HD is a worthwhile investment. For those who want the best sound quality for the money, however, we still recommend wired audio systems.
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