Joining the whole-home speaker fray is the Riva WAND (Wireless Audio Network Design) line of portable speakers. They were actually introduced last September at CEDIA, but I first encountered them at CES. All WAND speakers use Wi-Fi to distribute audio to as many as 32 devices in user-defined groups, and unlike Sonos, multiple groups can share the same speakers.

Each device includes its own Wi-Fi router and distributes audio to other WAND speakers on its own Wi-Fi network without relying on the home's network—which means you can network multiple speakers in remote locations for, say, a party in the forest or at the beach. (If you want to stream audio from a device on the home's network—say, a Plex server—you can connect one WAND speaker to the home router and it will distribute to all other speakers using their separate Wi-Fi network.) The system supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz, automatically switching between them as traffic requires.

Each speaker provides multiple connections, including Bluetooth, AirPlay, Chromecast (formerly Google Cast), DLNA, and USB along with analog aux inputs. Another feature common to all WAND speakers is Riva's Trillium technology, which renders stereo audio from a single speaker, expanding a 2-channel input to three effective channels. They also support high-resolution audio up to 24/192 using drivers designed by parent company ADX.

The Arena (seen above) includes three full-range, 60 mm, active drivers powered by a total of 50 watts and three passive, 66 mm radiators to achieve a specified frequency response from 50 Hz to 18 kHz. An optional, rechargeable battery pack can be attached to the base of the speaker to provide 16 hours of operation at a level of 75 dB. The Arena lists for $249, and the battery adds $99; both are said to be coming soon.

For those who want a beefier speaker, there's the Festival. It incorporates three 20 mm silk-dome tweeters and three 4" woofers powered by a total of 200W (500W peak) along with four 4", long-throw passive radiators to encompass a frequency response from 40 Hz to 26 kHz. A braced wood enclosure ensures low resonance. It will be available soon for $499.

The Festival is a beefy whole-home speaker.

New at CES was the TheaterBar, a soundbar with all the features of WAND. It provides three 20 mm silk-dome tweeters and eight 60 mm woofers along with six 64 mm passive radiators. With drivers on the front, sides, and rear—and an optional wireless subwoofer—this soundbar can reproduce a fairly wide soundfield. Unlike the other WAND products, the TheaterBar provides an HDMI input with DTS and Dolby Digital decoding. The TheaterBar and subwoofer are scheduled to be available in September, but pricing has not been finalized

The TheaterBar incorporates a total of 11 active drivers and six passive radiators.

For true 5.1, you can plug an optional USB dongle into each of two Arenas, which turns them into wireless surround speakers. The dongle should also be available in September, but no pricing was given.

Finally, if you want to include conventional speakers in your whole-home system, you can get the Central, a WAND access point and 2-channel power amp providing 30 W/ch. It offers analog and optical inputs and outputs, USB, Wi-Fi, and a subwoofer output. It even has a phono preamp, and you can turn off the power amp and send the audio from the preamp outputs to an outboard amp. The Central should be available this summer for $399.

The Central provides an access point and power amp for legacy speakers. It also includes a photo preamp.

I listened to a demo of the TheaterBar with subwoofer playing the soundtrack to the Star Wars Battlefront video game. It sounded quite good, though a bit bright for my taste, and the soundfield extended way beyond the confines of the enclosure itself. I also heard a turntable playing through a Central to an Arena speaker, which sounded fine, as I've come to expect from Riva products.