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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
No audio wires required
Good sound quality for a wireless system
Attractive minimalist design
Sound quality inferior to comparable wired systems
Requires a power outlet for each speaker
Can be frustrating to use
The Enclave Audio CineHome is a great sounding wireless surround sound system that unfortunately suffers from a number of issues and design limitations.
We purchased the Enclave Audio CineHome so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Enclave Audio CineHome aims to remove the tedium and stress of wiring a surround sound system by doing away with those cumbersome lengths of cord, syncing your speakers via wireless connections instead. The allure of a wireless house is a siren song to many—wires, cables, and cords of all descriptions are an eyesore and a frequent point of failure. Sadly, at least in the case of the CineHome, that glorious wireless future hasn’t quite fully arrived yet.
The CineHome is notable for its attractive minimalist design. Speakers are a solid matte black, and in a dimmed room they almost disappear into the shadows. This unobtrusive style is consistent with the CineHome’s driving philosophy—to get rid of long wires, eliminate the fiddly setup process, and smooth out the obtrusive appearance of many speakers that all too often clash with the decor of a room. Aesthetically, the CineHome is a big success.
The speakers are built of tough, non-reflective black plastic that could almost be mistaken for aluminum in appearance and feel. The front is covered by a fine mesh that from a distance blends almost seamlessly with the rest of the speaker. Each is equipped with a power adapter socket, reset button, and status indicator light.
The center speaker doubles as the hub for the whole speaker system, with a control panel on top and input/output ports on the back. The control panel is perhaps the only weak point in the Cinehome’s overall great build quality. It’s made of a glossy, cheap-feeling plastic that attracts smudges, dust, and scratches like crazy. The buttons on the control panel aren’t great either, though they get the job done.
Another poor design decision by Enclave is the behavior of the power indicator light on the control console/center speaker. It’s on when the light is off, and off when the light is on (unless it is unplugged of course). We never could get used to this, and frequently found ourselves trying to operate the speakers with them turned off. Furthermore, it means that the little blue light will glow all night long unless you leave the system turned on, and that will consume a lot of power since the wireless system is fairly power intensive. To make things even more confusing, the light doesn’t fully turn off, but rather just dims slightly.
Unfortunately, each of the six components of the speaker system require their own wall socket power source. This is a problem for a number of reasons; it calls into question the value of a wireless system, complicates setup, and means that the system will hog your outlets. In a modern home this is usually less of a problem because modern buildings typically have a surplus of power outlets. However, older buildings are often not nearly so well equipped, and there is a very real possibility that you may need to invest in power strips and extension cords in order to assemble your “wireless” speaker system.
Setting up the CineHome is a relatively easy but not frustration-free process. Setup is aided by the clear labelling and setup instructions printed on the compartmentalized packaging. We were easily able to figure out what speakers went where without having to refer to the manual.
The lack of audio wires is a major boon in speaker placement, and it makes the process of setting up the speakers much less daunting. The six channel wires common to surround sound systems can be very off-putting to those less well versed in home audio. They have strange exposed ends that must be clamped into finicky sockets, a design that hasn’t changed for a good part of the past century. Ditching those antiquated cables makes the CineHome a lot more approachable. The improved ease of use will also be enjoyed by more seasoned individuals who know the sweat and frustration of hunkering down behind a receiver, feverishly threading delicate wires into tiny holes.
The need for half a dozen power cables and the requisite sockets defeats the whole wireless concept.
We appreciated the excellent placement options for the speakers, which can be mounted on stands (not included) or directly onto the wall. It definitely helps achieve optimal speaker placement.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned need for half a dozen power cables and the requisite sockets defeats the whole wireless concept. Instead of plugging in those annoying six channel audio wires, we found ourselves desperately attempting to stretch cords to outlets. With so many of the speakers located at the front of the room, we found ourselves faced with the classic dilemma immortalized by “A Christmas Story” where some precious device has to be unplugged to make room for the CineHome.
Once powered on, the system automatically syncs and connects. However, this can take a frustratingly long time, and the CineHome refuses to function in any capacity while this is happening. This reinforced the problem of the confusing power indicator light, and led to a number of instances where we mistakenly thought that something was wrong with the system.
A further irritating aspect of setting up and using the Cinehome is that an HDMI connection is required to access the on-screen menu in order to change system settings. We found that we could get around using the cumbersome and outdated interface by using the app to change settings. That requires a Bluetooth connection, and here we found a recurring issue where our devices often refused to connect to the system until we unpaired and then paired them again.
There are definite advantages to not having to connect a tangle of audio wires, but unfortunately the Cinehome counteracts much of this convenience with a few frustrating quirks.
The Cinehome includes very few input options. You get stereo analog, optical digital, HDMI output, and three HDMI inputs, a limiting and spartan selection. It might not be an issue for many home theater setups, but for a high-end, expensive system it’s disappointing.
Unfortunately the limitations of wireless transmission to a 5.1 surround system prevent the CineHome from attaining the audio quality of similarly priced wired systems. Despite not being quite as great as wired systems like the Onkyo HT-S7800, the Cinehome still delivers a perfectly acceptable listening experience. For music it delivers a clear and enjoyable experience with especially strong high notes, though it tends to struggle with mids and low bass ranges. It also doesn’t perform particuarly well at high volume.
The limitations of wireless transmission to a 5.1 surround system prevent the CineHome from attaining the audio quality of a wired system.
“Panic Station” by Muse was pleasingly punchy and dramatic, filling the room with its crazy noise, and Rach’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” was particularly well reproduced. For music the CineHome is adequate, if not spectacular.
For films and TV the flaws of the CineHome are less apparent, and we were quickly sucked into Raiders of the Lost Ark where the surround sound drew us into the classic jungle temple. Vocals were clear and crisp, and we really enjoyed our time viewing films with the CineHome. A 5.1 surround system is a big step up if you’re used to listening to the built-in speakers on your TV (or even a high end sound bar).
The free Enclave Audio app is a basic but useful app that acts as a remote control for your CineHome. Through it you can adjust the volume and balance of your speakers, as well as change Dolby Pro Logic Mode, Dolby Dynamic Range move, CEC mode, and change the input device. There are also status indicators for individual speakers, and it has the ability to play music from your device or connected service through the app (though we found this cumbersome and preferred to use other apps for playing music).
Don’t be put off by the sky high $1200 MSRP of the Cinehome; this system retails on Enclave’s own website for $999, and can be found for around $200 less elsewhere online. That’s not bad for the sound quality and the advantages of a wireless surround sound system. However, it must be noted that for about the same price you can buy a wired system that will produce much better sound and include a lot more connectivity options. The deciding factor is how important eliminating long audio wires is to you.
The Onkyo HT-S7800 is a drastically superior system to the Enclave CineHome in almost every way. The difference in audio quality is night and day by comparison, with the HT-S7800 offering Dolby Atmos and a subwoofer that is capable of rattling the entire room. Additionally, the HT-S7800 features a powerful and feature rich receiver with Wifi connectivity, AM/FM radio, and an automatic room calibration system. All this, and it’s MSRP is $200 less than that of the CineHome. The only reason to choose the CineHome over the HT-S7800 is if some aspect of your room’s layout makes long audio wires impractical.
Excellent concept, flawed execution.
The Enclave Audio CineHome is both a glimpse into the future and an unfortunate reminder of the current limitations of technology. There is no doubt that at some point down the road all our devices will operate without the need for cumbersome cables. However, the problem of power delivery is the Cinehome’s Achilles’ heel, exacerbated by frustrating problems with operating the system and sub-par sound quality that doesn’t live up to the standard set by similarly-priced wired systems.