Review: CineHome II wireless surround speaker system
Audio is crystal-clear and latency is nonexistent with the CineHome II.
It’s no secret that the best thing you can do to upgrade your TV watching experience is to buy better speakers to attach to it. Whether that’s a soundbar, bookshelf speakers, or a full surround sound system, your ears will thank you.
That’s true enough for movie watching, but it goes doubly when you use your TV for gaming. A surround sound system lets you hear every footstep creeping up on you, every bit of the atmosphere that the sound designers wanted you to feel, and just generally a more immersive experience.
We’re looking at one such surround system today, the $1,099 Enclave CineHome II 5.1 Wireless Home Theater Surround Sound System. Wait. Wireless? Can that really sound good? Read on to find out.
So, what’s it all about?
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning you’ll want a friend to help you move the box once delivered. It’s just under 53lbs, and the box isn’t fun to move around solo (yes, I found out the hard way).
Once you open the box, you’ll find an 8-inch downward-firing subwoofer, three Left/Right and Center speakers that all have a 3-inch mid-range driver, and one 1-inch tweeter, with the Center speaker also having a second 3-inch mid-range driver. Then there’s two bi-pole compact rear speakers, each with two 2-inch drivers inside, and the CineHub that ties it all together. Each of these speakers has a keyhole and a threaded insert for wall or stand-mounting, which is great for keeping them out of the way.
The system supports Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround, and PCM, covering the majority of Dolby’s surround options. If you want Dolby Pro Logic II and THX certification, the $1,600 CineHome Pro also upgrades you to a 10-inch forward-firing sub, two full-range drivers and one tweeter in each of the Left/Right/Center speakers, and a full-range 3-inch driver and 1-inch tweeter in each of the rear speakers.
We recently looked at another wireless audio system, the Dali Sound Hub. The corresponding hub for Enclave’s system is the CineHub, and it’s set up in pretty much the same way. The best connection for most people is the HDMI port for eARC/ARC use, which also lets you use your TV remote to control volume levels. It’s also got Optical, 3.5mm AUX, and Bluetooth 5.0, so you can use it for your smart speaker or even stream music from your smartphone.
Whatever wires you use to connect your TV to the CineHub are the only ones you’re going to need for the rest of the system. The CineHome II uses WiSA, or Wireless Speaker & Audio, to beam out audio to each of the six speakers that make up the whole 5.1 system. That’s sent at 24bits at 48kHz/96kHz, at nearly zero latency, and with every speaker synced to each other without any need for user intervention.
The CineHub will automatically set up any audio configuration from 2.0 to 5.1, and you can add up to three more subwoofers if you want more of a thump.
The companion app lets you take care of any minor tweaks you might want once you’ve set up the speakers. You can use it to switch between sources, control volume, and change things like individual speaker levels or calibrate your room by putting in the distance each speaker is to your viewing position.
The only minor annoyance? It’s not completely wireless. You’re going to need to find seven plug sockets as all six speakers and the hub require their own power. Those power cables are long enough for most setups, but you might find you need an extension cable for the rear speakers depending on how your wall sockets are situated.
Still, it’s a minor price to pay for not having to string speaker wire across your living room.
So, how does the CineHome II sound?
While I was unboxing the CineHome system to set it up, I noticed one thing that made me smile. Enclave includes a pair of white cotton gloves in the box that has the remote, so you don’t put fingerprints all over your new speakers while setting them up. Isn’t that a classy touch?
Setup was mostly a breeze, with a minor bit of confusion when figuring out which cable went to each speaker. See, the six power cables for the speakers aren’t all the same. Two are longer than the other four and have L-shaped plugs to go into the speaker. The other four are about the same length, with two L-shaped plugs and two straight plugs.
I figured out that the longer ones were probably for the rear pair and the shorter L-plug ones were for the front speakers due to the cutouts for the wire to go out. That left the straight plugs for the center speaker and the subwoofer. The setup in the app and the manual don’t mention which power cable goes to which speaker, so a minor revision to the setup instructions would be welcome.
The only other minor issue is that one of the rear speakers wouldn’t pair to begin with. Maybe I forgot to turn it on when I turned all the other speakers on; I really couldn’t say. After fiddling around for a while, it seemed that a combination of tapping the “reset wireless” button and turning all the speakers off then on again and redoing the pairing routine fixed this. This isn’t mentioned in any of the troubleshooting FAQ pages, and it really should be.
I’ve been using a smaller soundbar with my TV, so I was very interested to see how much difference the CineHome II would make. It’s hard to understate just how much of a difference it made the first time I fired it up. It’s like the jump from using the lackluster speakers inside your TV when you first buy a soundbar. I wasn’t expecting that big a jump, with a richer sound, reverberating explosions, and perfect sound positioning.
Everything I threw at the system sounded as close to a theater experience as I dared turn the speakers up. I can’t wait until we’re in our new home next year where it’s a fully-sound-insulated townhome instead of this apartment so I can really let them go wild.
While it’s ostensibly for theater use, the CineHome II is no slouch when it comes to gaming as well. I used it with a long HDMI cable to my PC and there’s no substitute for a proper surround speaker setup. Being able to pick up on positional clues for enemy placement or that racecar that’s about to pass you on the side is a beautiful thing to hear.
Dialog is crystal-clear, whether you’re watching a quiet cutscene or hearing battle-cries in the middle of frenetic action. On my old soundbar I had to use the dialog clarity mode to actually hear what’s going on, but no longer. The biggest thing I’ve noticed? The tiny latency afforded by the WiSA connectivity means no more annoying delay or lip-sync issues. That’s big for movie watching, but it’s even rewarding for gaming, where any issues often drop you out of your sense of immersion.
So, should I buy it?
The $1,099 Enclave CineHome II 5.1 Wireless Home Theater Surround Sound System is a great sounding 5.1 setup that removes the most frustrating thing of any surround sound setup – the speaker wires.
The last time I used a surround setup was in the late 90s, and the wires put me off doing it ever again. Find some games with rousing soundtracks like Skyrim or The Witcher 3 and go to town; you’ll never want to play your games any other way again.
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