Enclave CineHome PRO review: Wireless surround done right
The Enclave CineHome PRO hi-res wireless home theater system strikes all the right cords.
TVs are growing larger while getting cheaper. At the same time, first-run movies are now commonly available to stream. The better that new QLED or OLED TV looks for less, the more the term “home theater” becomes literal. However, an ultrawide screen and microwave popcorn can’t make up for one vital part of the actual theater experience: the sound. Built-in flatscreen TV speakers just don’t quite deliver. A single soundbar and the latest immersive audio processing can offer a big step up, but the best surround sound systems still actually surround you with physical speakers. They also typically surround you with wires, however, because while Bluetooth surround sound systems seem convenient, most wireless 5.1 surround sound has unacceptable latency and a hard time keeping the sound synced to the video. But not the Enclave CineHome PRO. Built on a 24-bit wireless audio standard and certified by THX for quality and consistency, this wireless home theater system offers considerable audio quality and performance while only requiring one HDMI cable from your TV.
The Enclave CineHome PRO wireless home theater system’s design
The Enclave CineHome PRO ($1,599) promises a big surround sound experience from an easy-to-setup wireless 5.1 surround sound system. That big sound comes from a six-piece speaker system that does not skimp on size. The 24-inch-tall, 7.3-pound left and right front speakers are meant to stand vertically and each has two 3-inch drivers and a 1-inch tweeter inside. The 24-inch-wide, 7.3-pound center speaker also has two 3-inch drivers and a 1-inch tweeter; it is basically the same design as the left and right front speakers except that it lies horizontally beneath your TV rather than standing vertically. The smaller left and right vertically standing rear speakers are 16-inches-tall, 4.6-pound mini-towers, and have one 3-inch driver and one 1-inch tweeter inside.
The system’s subwoofer is appropriately bulky, measuring 18.8-inches high, 11.8-inches wide, and 14.4-inches deep and weighing 26.6 pounds to accommodate its 10-inch front-firing woofer. For wall mounting, there are keyholes in the back of each speaker except for the subwoofer, and the left and right rear speakers also have 1/4-inch threaded mount options in the back.
Altogether, the CineHome PRO system utilizes 11 Class-D digital amplifiers. So you may not have to string speaker wires along your walls, but you will need several available power outlets. If you’ve got one extra wall socket, Enclave also sells a CineHome Duo PRO ($2,094) system, which is the same as the CineHome PRO but with a second subwoofer (CineHome PRO users can add a second Enclave subwoofer at any time if they wish).
The CineHub wireless unit ties the whole system together using WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio Association) technology. The WiSA standard sends up to eight channels of uncompressed 24-bit/96kHz audio (twice a CD’s resolution) with less than one microsecond of sync time between speakers and 5.2 milliseconds of latency—about one-tenth the latency of Bluetooth. WiSA also transmits on frequencies that are not supposed to interfere with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Getting started with the Enclave CineHome PRO
If you’re not familiar with the proper positions for a 5.1 surround system’s speakers in the front left, center, front right, rear left and rear right, the paper manual provides some guidance. The bundle even comes with white gloves, should you choose to wear them while handling the speakers. After placing and powering up all the speakers, you connect the CineHub’s HDMI port to the TV’s HDMI ARC input for two-way data exchange. In the rare case that your TV does not have an HDMI ARC input, you can connect the TV to both the CineHub’s HDMI and digital optical audio ports (optical cable not included).
Raiders of the Lost ARC
The CineHome PRO will work just fine with a TV’s next-generation eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) input; however, Enclave has not yet enabled eARC functionality—which entails higher bandwidth and speed over an HDMI connection—for the CineHome PRO. The company has professed that it will enable eARC support through a CineHome PRO firmware update sometime in the future.
In the blink of an eye (and an LED)
Once you’ve positioned and plugged in the six speakers and the CineHub unit (power cords provided), the first thing to do is download the Enclave Audio Remote app (available for iOS and Android devices) to install firmware updates and begin setup. Then you power on all the speakers and connect the power cable to the CineHub. LED lights on each component will flash while they’re pairing with each other. When the lights stop blinking, you can power on the CineHub with the Enclave remote control or app. If you enable CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) on your TV, you can also use your TV’s remote to control the CineHome PRO’s volume and power it on/off along with the TV.
The whole setup process for the CineHome PRO was relatively painless and worked as advertised, with the wireless pairing of the speakers happening within about 10 seconds. The biggest concern was just finding open power outlets for all the speakers—a small price to pay compared to connecting everything to a central receiver.
Key features of Enclave’s wireless home theater system
Spatial audio formats—especially Dolby Atmos—cause a lot of commotion in home theater realms these days. Rather than sending specific sounds to specific speaker channels, Atmos digitally assigns sounds to dozens of possible 3D spaces, including the new-fangled ability to produce overhead sound effects with angled speakers that bounce sound waves off of a wall or ceiling. To facilitate that, Dolby Atmos purists might recommend ceiling-mounted speakers. However, less extreme alternatives handle the Atmos overhead sounds with top-firing drivers in speaker systems such as the Klipsch surround-sound bundle ($1,169) with R-625FA floor-standing speakers, or even the all-in-one Sennheiser AMBEO 5.1.4 soundbar ($2,499) with two top-firing drivers. You can read our full review of the AMBEO here.
While the WiSA standard is compatible with Dolby Atmos, the Enclave CineHome PRO wireless home theater system did not support Dolby Atmos at the time of this writing. However, Enclave could add Atmos compatibility with a firmware upgrade in the future. Not supporting Atmos yet may take some of the shine off of the Enclave CineHome PRO system for certain home cinephiles. However, there isn’t an enormous amount of Atmos-encoded content available for home viewing, and not everyone who hears it will agree that it significantly enhances the viewing experience.
The CineHome PRO is the first THX-certified WiSA system and supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS 5.1 Digital Surround, uncompressed PCM audio, and Bluetooth 5.0 audio. This means it can deliver plenty of powerful, high-quality surround audio from the most widely distributed formats, all in a smaller footprint than many of the best 5.1 surround sound systems. And Enclave’s use of an app for a deeper level of control also contributes to the system’s low-clutter aesthetic.
Enclave’s hardware remote for the CineHome PRO can control the power, volume/mute, and select the input from three of the TV’s HDMI inputs or from the CineHub’s optical, 3.5mm aux input, or Bluetooth audio sources. But there’s much more going on with the Enclave Audio Remote app, which I preferred to operate from the larger screen of an iPad as opposed to a smartphone. The app communicates with the CineHub over Bluetooth and shows a visual representation of the speaker setup, with the speakers in orange if they’re paired to the hub. Touching a speaker in the app sends a white noise test signal to the speaker so you can make sure it’s producing audio. The app also sends firmware updates to the CineHub wirelessly, which took less than 10 minutes to complete when I updated to the latest version.
A Room Setup screen lets you set the distance for each speaker from your listening position so the hub can calibrate levels but if you’re not happy with the default levels, the Speaker Levels screen lets you adjust each speaker’s level ±6dB (or ±10dB for the subwoofer). There are three Level Presets for saving different configurations of speaker levels. You can also choose four modes for Dolby Pro Logic, which converts stereo signals to surround sound: Music, Movie, Auto, or Off. Three Dolby Dynamic Range modes—Minimum, Standard, and Maximum—really go a long way to narrow or widen the difference between the softest and loudest sounds in whatever you’re watching. Finally, turning on the Whole Room Stereo mode from the app works wonderfully for listening to music, because it fills the entire room with stereo sound from all the speakers, rather than playing stereo music as a converted surround sound music. Whole Room Stereo can be effective, too, for watching video material that does not have important surround sound elements to it, or for making dialog easier to hear by sending it to the rear speakers.
The one thing that didn’t feel as seamless was the process to set up the CineHub to play Bluetooth audio from a device. First, you have to quit the remote app entirely (not just minimize it), then pair your device’s audio to the Enclave Audio Bluetooth connection, and then open the remote app again and choose the Bluetooth input to hear it. After doing this once, the remote app should pair your device to the CineHub’s Bluetooth in the future. But, in general, you occasionally need to quit, restart, and re-pair the app with the CineHub to get the app to respond again.
If you’ve ever tried to watch shows on a TV or computer paired to Bluetooth surround sound speakers or headphones, you’ve probably run into annoying lip-sync problems, where the audio is just too far behind the video to ignore. Even a split-second of latency between the audio and video can take you out of the experience in a hurry. So as step one in testing the CineHome PRO, I confirmed that the WiSA wireless home theater system really does not have any noticeable latency between the TV’s picture and the speakers’ sound. Regardless of the source—live TV, multiple streaming video services, or PS4 games—the audio appeared to be synced to the onscreen picture. If there were 5.2 milliseconds of latency as WiSA’s standard claims, that was short enough to be negligible to this human’s eye.
The next claim-check on the list: Enclave says that as the first THX-certified WiSA system, the CineHome PRO can play cleanly at very loud levels. Challenge accepted. I fired up “The Suicide Squad” on HBO Max, whispered a meaningless preemptive apology to the neighbors, and cranked the volume on the app up to 49 (out of a maximum of 59). Spoiler alert: Not all of the characters make it to the end of the movie and some of them are made to not make it in a very explosive and loud fashion. Fortunately, the CineHome PRO’s audio did stay clean even as the movie got very messy, so I could hear all the shouted dialog amid the gunfire, explosions, and splatter sound effects without distortion, even at sound levels that were honestly too loud to keep up for more than the opening sequence of the movie. Turning down to a more sustainable level for my ears, I enjoyed the CineHome PRO as a constant companion for the Tokyo Olympics, as well as other movies and games such as “Middle Earth: Shadow of War.”
Settled in a centered listening position, the speakers treated me to a very detailed and precise sound that seemed to present an omnidirectional sound field, rather than isolated sounds coming from five separate sources. Even though the CineHome PRO doesn’t support the “immersive” Dolby Atmos format, the audio of Atmos-capable material, like “Army of the Dead” on Netflix, still felt more immersive from the CineHome PRO than from the Atmos-supporting Sennheiser AMBEO, which does a great job for a single soundbar, but is still more of a simulation of surround sound that true surround. And having a real 5.1 surround sound system where the speakers are spatially separated can also make dialog easier to understand during aurally busy shows and movies than it is on soundbars and certainly on built-in TV speakers.
The CineHome PRO system emits a nicely balanced sound, absent of muddiness between the low-, mid-, and high-frequency ranges. Personally, however, I preferred to turn up the rear speakers several decibels over the defaults and push the subwoofer 8-10dB over the baseline. Without turning it up, I found the subwoofer to be a little light on rumble, especially when listening to music. But with the sub jacked up, the playlists of classic ’90s hip-hop and house/nu-disco DJ sets that I threw at it sounded nice and heavy. The Whole Room Stereo mode was a must for me to listen to music and made the CineHome PRO my preferred method for filling the whole space with loud music over any other set of stereo speakers or studio monitors I own.
So, who should buy the Enclave CineHome PRO wireless home theater system?
If you know that a single soundbar—even some of the best soundbars available—will not be enough to satisfy your craving for surround sound, but you don’t necessarily want a giant surround-sound system with a full receiver and speaker wire, the Enclave Audio CineHome PRO wireless home theatre system presents one of the best alternatives. The speakers still require power cables, but the wireless WiSA audio produces no noticeable latency from the video and no compromise in audio quality from wired systems. With its clean, balanced sound at all volume levels for both surround sound video and stereo music, this wireless home theater system could turn many home theater fans into wire cutters.