IN-WALL SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Gary Altunian Posted: Sep 23, 2007 0 comments
In-wall speakers without the in-wall sound.

In-wall loudspeakers, specifically those with open backs, can yield unpredictable results because their sound quality is highly dependent upon the wall cavity in which you install them. Typically, the wall cavity's volume doesn't load the woofer correctly. Plus, the wall can introduce rattles and vibrations, which obviously degrades sonic performance (and can be very annoying). Critics cite these problems as reasons to reject in-wall models for serious consideration as high-end speakers. Increasingly, manufacturers are seeking to overcome these performance issues by designing in-wall speakers that include enclosures—sort of like a bookshelf speaker in a wall. Atlantic Technology is one of them. Their new IWCB-626 speaker comes in a closed-back enclosure. An enclosure eliminates the wall cavity as a variable and ensures more consistent performance. It also makes installation easier and brings the sound of in-wall speakers closer to that of freestanding speakers. In-wall speakers are popular with homeowners because they are less visible and don't take up floor space—many homeowners want audio without speakers and wires cluttering the room. But homeowners also demand good audio performance, and a sealed-box in-wall speaker can potentially come closer to achieving both goals.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
Moving speakers for moving pictures.

I've had the good fortune of being able to bring some extremely cool gear into my house: a 50-inch plasma HDTV (way back when 50 inches was big for a plasma), a $40,000 Kaleidescape multiroom movie server, and, last but not least, five gorgeous Legacy Audio Harmony in-wall speakers (each one weighing 54 pounds). So, when something arrives and causes more than one member of my family to say, "That's the coolest thing you have ever reviewed," I know there's something special about it.

Gary Altunian Posted: Dec 31, 2006 0 comments
Logging on to wholehouse audio.

It seems that all new consumer electronics products are either digital, Web-based, or both. One of the last holdouts are loudspeakers, which still operate mainly in the analog domain with no Web-based functions. Polk Audio has broken from that mold with the LC265i-IP in-wall loudspeaker. The LC265i-IP is the first active in-wall speaker for home audio powered by digital amplifiers that you can control via an Internet Protocol (IP)–based system. The full package, including the speakers, resides on a local area network, similar to the way a PC resides on a larger network connected to the Internet. The IP control assigns a unique number, or address, to each component in the system. The speakers in my test sample were connected to a NetStreams DigiLinX audio distribution system, which distributes digital audio throughout a networked home. Although I used the DigiLinX system for the purpose of this review, Polk Audio designed the LC265i-IP speakers to be compatible with a variety of IP-capable audio distribution systems, which are certainly a growing trend in wholehouse audio and video systems.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Dec 04, 2006 Published: Nov 04, 2006 0 comments
Getting Morel of a good thing.

Released from the boxes of thousands upon thousands of plasma and LCD TVs was a nasty disease that's induced feverish thoughts of flatness and smallness in the minds of otherwise good and decent people, making them forget how important audio is to a home theater system. (That rumbling sound is Paul Klipsch rolling over in his grave.) For these poor, deluded folks, speakers are not much more than a flat-panel-TV accessory.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 24, 2006 Published: Oct 25, 2006 0 comments
Hang a blue ribbon on the wall for these planar-driver speakers.

To stand out from the crowd, a speaker (or any product) needs to have a gimmick. "Gimmick" is too harsh of a word, really. "Unique element of differentiation" is too clinical but more on the mark. Maybe I should say, "thingamajig." On-wall speakers used to stand out from the crowd by their ability not to stand out. They were slim, contemporary in style, and loosely matched the flatness of plasma TVs, plus, until recently, only a handful were on the market. In some cases, these speakers were even voiced to sound their best when mounted on a wall. (Imagine that.) But on-wall speakers are no longer unusual. They're everywhere, including in some HTIB systems. Differentiation is definitely different now—it's a heck of a lot harder to do.

Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $2,395-$4,895/ea. Depending on configuration
  • 320: Two-way with one 6.5" bass driver and one ribbon tweeter
  • 330: Two-way with one 6.5" bass driver, one 8" passive radiator, and one ribbon tweeter
  • 350: Two-way with two 6.5" bass drivers, two 8" passive radiators, and one ribbon tweeter
Meridian's 300 Series in-wall/on-wall speakers use 6.5" bass drivers and ribbon tweeters and rigid, non-resonant cabinets and a white paintable grille and frame with rough-in boxes. And they come in a few different flavors. The 320 includes just a single bass driver and ribbon, while the 330 adds an 8" passive radiator and the 350 has two bass drivers and two passive radiators to complement the ribbon. Like the 200 Series these speakers are configurable as conventional passive designs set up for bi-wiring/bi-amping, or as "remote active" units that operate with Meridian's proprietary powered crossover/amplifiers.
Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $2,900/pr.
  • Active, 200-Watt two-way, with one 6.5" polypropylene woofer, one 6.5" polypropylene mid/woofer, and one 1" ring radiator tweeter, built-in DSP room correction and IP (Internet Protocol) ready for networked systems
Polk is calling the LC-265i-IP the "world's first active IP addressable loudspeaker." OK, sure. What's that? These three-driver in-walls carry onboard amplification for each driver, and work in networked systems, which we assume is a way to move your iTunes library around the house. In addition to being fully powered, these advanced speakers also have DSP-based room correction built-in. Got your attention yet? Look us up in December for the verdict, just in time for Xmas!
Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $397/ea.
  • Two-way with an 8" bass driver and pivoting tweeter, configurable as passive design powered by a conventional amplifier or as a "remote active" system driven by a proprietary Meridian crossover/amplifier
How about Meridian sound for your ceiling for about 400 bucks a pop? The new 200 Series in-ceiling speakers offer yet another option for high quality sound minus the room clutter. As we've come to expect from Meridian this system offer terrific flexibility being configurable as traditional passive speakers or as a "remote active" self-amplified speaker working in conjunction with Meridian controllers.
Gary Altunian Posted: Jul 05, 2006 0 comments
Extreme audio: a new standard in transparency, definition, and detail.

I've reviewed many excel- lent in-wall speakers, but none quite like the new Radia R-800 in-wall speaker from BG. With 24 drivers in each speaker, this giant stands almost 7 feet tall and is clearly designed for extreme listening—extremely satisfying listening, that is. Each speaker has two 8-inch woofers mounted at the top and bottom, six Neo10 planar-ribbon midrange panels, and 16 Neo3PDR planar-ribbon tweeters in a vertical-line array pattern. An outboard amplifier, the BGA-2500, which is included with a pair of Radia R-800s, powers the two woofers.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 17, 2006 0 comments
Flattery will get you everywhere.

Just when I thought speaker designers could focus 100 percent of their talents on creating the best-sounding speakers, flat-screen TVs came along and created a burgeoning market for ultrasvelte plasma-friendly speakers. Anything other than the most demure designs now elicit comments like, "They're too big," "I think they're ugly," or the perennial, "Not in my living room!" from reticent shoppers. This just goes to show that, for some customers, style and size are the dominant factors when picking out a set of speakers. Maybe I'm overstating the case, but it's starting to look like colossal towers and even fairly small monitor speakers' days are numbered. Skinny on-walls are what's happening now.

Gary Altunian Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
Fine art in my walls.

The speakers in my walls are probably more expensive than the paintings many art lovers have on theirs. That's because good sound is important to me. Fine art is wonderful, but I get as much pleasure from accurate loudspeakers as an art lover gets from an exceptional painting or object d'art. So it doesn't bother me that the SpeakerCraft Starlet 4 in-wall speakers cost close to $4,000 per pair. I'll gladly spend more to get the performance I want.

Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Polk's LSi Series in an out-of-sight, out -of-mind variety.

I've come to look at home theater's many worlds much like various animals of the same species—common bonds clearly exist, but, at the same time, differences abound. Home theater works the same way. You've got high end and entry level, hobbyist and mass market, retail and custom install, and so on. They're all similar but distinctly different—particularly custom-install components. Anyone familiar with custom A/V systems will tell you that, if you'll allow me a bad pun, they're a very different animal.

Gary Altunian Posted: Oct 15, 2004 Published: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
We evaluate eight similarly designed and priced in-walls.

I think I've purchased enough drywall to finish the interior of a three-bedroom house. My local home-improvement warehouse now stocks extra inventory just for my in-wall speaker reviews. You see, I hate to cut holes in my living-room walls, and I'm not very skilled at patching them. So, for this review, I made some portable walls in which to test eight different in-wall loudspeakers, also known as architectural speakers, priced between $435 and $600 per pair. In fact, I made several walls and simply swapped drywall to accommodate the various models. That's why my home-improvement store likes me so much.

Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 15, 2004 Published: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
Custom sound for those who care about sound.

To the casual observer, the home theater world probably looks relatively homogenous. After all, home theater isn't big enough, established enough, or varied enough to break itself into endless sub-categories yet, is it? The truth is, categorization has been a part of home theater from the beginning, and the gap between its two main sub-categories—let's call them conventional products and custom-install products—is wide. When it comes to speakers, the gap is only getting wider.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 01, 2003 0 comments
You can run wires, but you can't hide from the fact that today's in-walls sound better than ever.

If only Sheetrock dust were an aphrodisiac. After hacking and ripping my way through the installation of eight pairs of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers and one monumental pair of in-wall subwoofers, I'd be damn near the sexiest man alive. As it is, after the White Sands National Monument, my lungs are now the biggest repository of gypsum dust on the planet. Once again, I've risked life and limb to survey the state of the custom-install speaker industry and give you a feel for what your money can buy in terms of ease of installation, aesthetics, and—most importantly—sound quality.

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