Audio News

Philips’ New Competitor to Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

Ensation is designed for high end audio and claims to solve the processing delay problem

Published on June 7, 2005

Philips’ New Competitor to Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
Philips’ New Competitor to Wi-Fi & Bluetooth – Philips
has introduced another wireless technology specifically intended for
high end audio applications and called Ensation.  Designed for
streaming digital audio from audio systems, PCs and other devices to
multiple speakers and wireless headphones, Ensation operates at between
800 and 900 MHz and offers “CD-quality audio.” [Sorry, but that phrase
doesn't skate for high end audio any longer...Ed.]

The long-range point-to-multipoint wireless technology offers variable
net audio bit rates and requires only 10-milliwatt transmit power,
whereas Bluetooth needs 100-mW power to cover a home.  Philips
says the main issue that has kept high end audio systems from employing
wireless technologies is latency – better known as lack of sync between
image and sound (you see the lips of a person on the screen move and
sometime later hear the sound). Dolby’s research shows that consumers
will recognize the latency when it takes more than 20 milliseconds for
the sound to arrive.  Less than 20 ms is promised for Ensation
whereas the competition runs as high as 100 ms.  The intent is
that when Ensation is used between, say, a multichannel receiver and
the surround speakers (to avoid hard wiring), the sound delivered to
the surrounds will not have any added delay over what is already in the
original signal.

The most notable use of Bluetooth today is in wireless headphones,
where Ensation’s improved fidelity should have an edge.  Philips
solves the latency issue by using a broadcast system from the network
to the Ensation masters and slaves. The technology is claimed to have
built-in error correction on the baseband IC to protect audio data from
any transmission error. [I believe they’re talking about transmission
error in the room rather than over the air, but what is being ignored
here is the often gross out-of-sync programming telecast by stations.
Due to extensive video processing delaying the video signal, the sound
is now sometimes heard prior to the image of the lips moving rather
than after.  How does Ensation solve that? It’s why at least one
foresighted manufacturer has included a sync-adjusting button on their
remote which works in either direction...Ed.] 




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