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Why’s it here:  You wouldn’t need to ask if you’ve ever tripped over the cables for your home cinema system’s rear channel speakers. Or maybe you’ve tried to lay on some music for a back-yard barbie, only to find the speaker wires wouldn’t stretch.  Speaker cables are a damn nuisance but until now there’s little you could do about it. A couple of TV manufacturers toyed with infra-red cordless speakers for surround sound TVs, but IR is noisy, susceptible to interference from lights and remote controls, and only works when the speakers are in line-of-sight with the transmitter module. Vivanco, pioneers of UHF cordless headphones have notched up another significant first with these new wireless speakers


Any unique features: The key difference between these, and anything that has gone before is the use of the 863 to 864 MHz frequency band, recently allocated to home audio products across the EU. This part of the UHF band has space for several full bandwidth stereo audio channels. The signals are quite good at penetrating walls and ceilings – in the open the range is up to 100 metres – and they’re battery-powered, so they’re completely independent of the mains, (optional AC adaptors are available). The transmitter operates over three switchable channels, so you don’t have to listen to the neighbour’s hi-fi or TV, if they’ve also got a set of wireless headphones or speakers.


How does it perform: Vivanco are not making any extravagant claims nor does it suggest they’re a substitute for conventional speakers. Nevertheless, they’re not too bad at all with a clean mid-range and treble. Battery operation limits their power output, but there’s sufficient volume for the rear channels on a surround sound system in a small room. They’re loud enough for background sounds, or personal listening outdoors, though needless to say discos are out, unless you buy a couple of dozen of them. There is some hiss, and it’s always there, but unlike the FM headphones we reviewed recently (HEXX), it’s barely audible against normal ambient noise; in the garden you wouldn’t notice it at all. Slight interference from nearby TV transmitters was evident on channel one but the other two were completely clear. The only real problem is the cost of battery operation, they’ll flatten eight quid’s worth of batteries in just four or five hours!


Our Verdict: Wireless rear channel speakers are the home cinema holy grail and the Vivanco FMS 700’s come as close as anything we’ve yet seen to eliminating the scourge of trailing speaker cables. The trouble is they cost a small fortune to run, unless you can lay on a mains supply. However, we reckon they really belong outdoors and could be a big hit this Summer, providing the sun keep on shining…


Vivanco UK, telephone (01442) 403020




Features            100 metre range, auto power cut-off, 5 watts (RMS) power output per channel, 3-channel operation       

Sockets             audio input (phono or jack), DC sockets on transmitter and receiver modules                                 



Sound Quality            ****

Build Quality              ****

Features                     ***

Ease of use                 ***

Overall value              ****


Rival Buys                  None yet, but they’re on the way!               



Ó R. Maybury 1998, 1802



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