How WiFi’s TimeSync Feature Might Fix Wireless Audio Syncing Issues
A refresher for those who don’t know, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an annual trade show in Las Vegas that showcases the next big thing in the world of consumer technology. CES 2017 just wrapped up and it’s time to talk about one of the biggest announcements for us audiophiles: TimeSync, brought to you by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Let’s start with a little background information on the Wi-Fi Alliance. They’re pretty much a worldwide network of companies that work together to promote WiFi technology, and bring it to you and me. Remember the days before WiFi? I do and quite frankly never want to go back. Anyway, the Wi-Fi Alliance is also responsible for certifying WiFi products and making sure they meet industry standards. If you’ve ever seen the official “Wi-Fi Certified” logo you’ve seen their work.
Okay, back to the good stuff. TimeSync is a WiFi feature that allows wirelessly connected devices to stay perfectly synchronized. That’s right, say goodbye to the echoes and drifting that comes with WiFi speakers, because this solution is poised to enable flawlessly synced audio and video playback wirelessly across devices in your house, apartment and really, anywhere (TimeSync supports peer-to-peer modes for when a WiFi connection is not available). And no, echoes don’t add a cool sound effect to music, they ruin the fun. So, how does this work? Straight from the horse’s mouth, AKA the Wi-Fi Alliance’s website, “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED TimeSync™ enables devices to tightly couple with each other through Wi-Fi® connectivity, providing sub-microsecond clock synchronization to ensure the best quality output.”
The takeaway here is that precision timing with a synchronized operation is key for a seamless listening experience. One of the best parts is that TimeSync essentially creates a shared ecosystem of speakers by creating a cross-brand standard for wireless devices. In other words, as long as they’re TimeSync enabled, devices made by competing companies can connect with each other in perfect harmony.
The Many Uses of TimeSync
The Internet of Things (IoT) is working toward creating wireless connections that will soon rival wired systems. A perfect addition to IoT, TimeSync supports multichannel audio and video capabilities wirelessly and simultaneously. Expanding on that a bit, it can synchronize video recordings, and videos in general, by time-stamping individual frames. Kevin Robinson, Wi-Fi Alliance’s Marketing VP, said that “As Wi-Fi becomes more firmly planted in the connected home space, it is growing from simply delivering Internet connectivity to connected devices to now moving into the interconnections between the components themselves”. Furthermore, he said that “TimeSync would allow you to create that precise coordination between various devices, whether it’s a VR headset, speakers in the room or a wireless headset.”
TimeSync Integration with Wireless Speakers
There’s clearly a demand for broader interoperability that TimeSync satisfies. Let’s paint a picture of life without TimeSync. Picture this, you’re in your room with your WiFi speakers, bumping to the latest surprise album drop, when you realize that your room isn’t big enough to contain your musically induced energy rush. You think, “No problem, my speakers can probably sync with each other. I’ll just take this dance party to the living room.” Wrong, what you’re forgetting is that you opted for a cheap set of smart speakers. You see, some speakers like HEOS by Denon can already sync with each other through WiFi. Yours, on the other hand, cannot. Enter TimeSync. Now you can jam to anything, from any device and from any competing band as long as it’s TimeSync enabled.
You have two options if you want to be able to move freely throughout your home while listening to your favorite tunes (without using headphones that hinder dancing because who’s going to listen to music without dancing?). Option 1: blast music and hear it everywhere; Option 2: buy yourself a nice set of WiFi speakers that allow the music to follow you as you move from room to room. The first option works, but quality lessens the farther you go from the speakers, and your neighbors might not be very happy with you. The second option works, but, well, actually there are no buts. Yeah, go for the second option.