ON-WALL SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 15, 2007 0 comments
Flat meets flat.

The big trend is smallness. Flat is the new phat. Manufacturers who want space in your home compete most effectively by taking up less of it. And, in case you hadn't heard, less is more.

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.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Oct 24, 2006 Published: Oct 25, 2006 0 comments
Monocromaticness.

It's a fact of life that not all people can fit speakers into their living rooms. This could be for size reasons or, shall we say, more personal reasons. This fact has not gone unnoticed in the speaker world, which has been struggling for years with a declining market for big traditional speakers. In-walls have been a choice, but even the best in-walls have to make compromises that often end up being audible. On-walls are a newer choice that manufacturers hope will take out some of the concessions inherent in in-wall mountings. More recently, several companies have begun offering "sound bars" that give you multiple channels of sound from one long speaker that you can mount under your plasma or LCD. Leon is one such company that custom builds all of their speakers. Before they can build you one, though, you have to choose a plasma.

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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 14, 2006 0 comments
Speak of the devil.

In the Faustian struggle for the soul of the audio industry, Mephistopheles mans the sales floor, giving the public what it wants, namely on-wall speakers. The beckoning demon's proposition is irresistible. If you're hanging a flat-panel display, why not hang speakers there, too? All other things being equal, on-walls are at a sonic disadvantage when it comes to soundstage depth. But, as any competent demon knows, all things are rarely equal. So, let's restate the proposition: If on-walls are what you want, why not buy the best-sounding ones you can find? If they sound good in the space and look good on the wall, you might find yourself handing the demon your credit card.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 14, 2006 0 comments
The sweet sounds of success.

Neil Young was on NPR chatting about his new movie, Heart of Gold, when he uttered a line that stuck with me: "The art of singing is making a sound that comes from your heart." Thanks Neil, I'm co-opting the idea to describe what distinguishes great home theater systems—their sound touches your heart. Yeah, that's it. While components are getting better all the time, many lack that special something. There's nothing obviously out of whack, it's just that their sound doesn't connect on an emotional level. Sometimes the individual components are all top notch, but, if they're not well matched to each other, the sound suffers. When everything clicks, you know it. That was certainly the case when I hooked up Marantz's SR8500 A/V receiver with a set of PSB's VisionSound VS300 speakers and SubSeries 5i subwoofer. They're all charmers.

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.
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.

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.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 15, 2013 0 comments

Now that the weather is warm, everyone’s urge to go outside is irresistible. For you, it’s easy: Just walk out the door. For speaker manufacturers, it’s a lot harder — and not because they’re all pale geeks who never leave the lab. It’s because the outdoors is a hostile environment for anything that uses electricity. Water can corrode metal parts, or even short out circuits.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 15, 2013 0 comments

Most outdoor speakers share pretty much the same design. But the OE5 One, like Speakercraft’s other Outdoor Elements speakers, has a feature found in only a few outdoor models: a ported enclosure. The port allows for deeper bass response than a sealed cabinetdoes.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 30, 2011 0 comments

Flat-TV friendly speakers from a company best known for its horns. If your speakers are fat, what good does a skinny TV do? Speaker manufacturers have begun addressing that problem in the last year.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 15, 2013 0 comments

When we put together comparison tests, we often give manufacturers the parameters (i.e., outdoor speakers at $400/pair) and let them figure out what they want to send. For some reason, Niles chose to send the OS5.5, a speaker that costs just $259/pair.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

The dirty little secret about on-wall speakers is that many aren’t tuned for on-wall use. Most come with a foot that allows them to be used atop a table or stand.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Jul 15, 2013 0 comments

Klipsch is of course known for making high-efficiency speakers with horn tweeters. Whether or not that concept pays off indoors, where high-powered amps are common, is a subject of debate among audiophiles. But it definitely pays off outdoors. There, you have no room gain to boost the bass, so you may need more volume.

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