ON-WALL SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 09, 2013 0 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $4,747 as reviewed ($2,499/pair) At A Glance: Transmits digital audio and power over 18-gauge wire • 24-volt DC low-voltage wiring • Can be used vertically or horizontally

I worked at an A/V shop back in the Middle Ages when customers actually drove to a local store and spoke with a salesperson face to face about the gear they were interested in. Every now and then during that golden era, a speaker manufacturer would come along with the “revolutionary” idea of building an amplifier(s) into a speaker. With all the benefits that came with such a design, it seemed like such a no-brainer.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jul 19, 2013 1 comments

W3 On-Wall Soundbar System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subseries 200 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,046 At A Glance: Adjustable-angle feet for tabletop or shelf mounting • Passive radiators augment bass output • W1s can be used vertically or horizontally

What do you say about a product when there’s nothing special to talk about? Let’s take, for instance, the hypothetical case of a passive LCR soundbar, a pair of matching on-wall speakers for the surrounds, and a powered subwoofer. Pretty staid and traditional stuff, that. After all, it’s a passive LCR, so there’s no extraordinary amplification technology involving cutting-edge DSP crossover and frequency manipulation in order to extract better sound out of embarrassingly small drivers than ever was possible (or desirable) before. There’s no wireless subwoofer connection to delve into, no HDMI connectivity, no onscreen display—hell, there’s not even a destined-to-disappear teeny-tiny remote control to complain about. Perhaps most disappointing from a reviewer’s perspective is the lack of any unique mess-with-your-mind faux-surround processing to wallow in the minutia of—no hyper-temporal, quasi-spatial, time-dilating series of intermodal cross-connections that takes a beautifully designed discrete multichannel soundtrack, scrambles all the elements together as if they were eggs destined for the warmed-over breakfast buffet line at Country Kitchen, but then presents it in a way that makes the end result appear (in your head) to be a delectable plate of fried eggs, sunny side up and steaming hot next to a couple of strips of crispy bacon fresh from the frying pan.

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.

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: 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: 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: 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.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 16, 2011 1 comments
Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $2,745 At A Glance: Horn-loaded tweeters • Shallow-depth enclosures • Clear, focused sound

Traditional home theater is the union of big-screen television and surround sound. I never tire of reiterating that statement—but I must admit, this is the first time I’ve qualified it with the term traditional. For many if not all consumers today, home theater is the union of flat-screen television and slimmed-down surround sound, with loudspeakers losing cabinet depth to complement the more compact form factor of LCD and plasma HDTVs. Don’t get me wrong: I love my flat-panel HDTV, and the mere thought of going back to an unsightly direct-view or awkward rearprojection set makes me shudder. But the flattening trend that makes 21st-century HDTVs so much more appealing isn’t a recipe for great sound.

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.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 28, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $6,003 At A Glance: Discrete center-channel drivers built into main speakers • Grilles custom-sized to match flat panel • Can also be mounted on the wall

One of the more interesting things I overheard during this year’s CEDIA Expo in Indianapolis was an offhanded comment that “the sound quality of TVs today is worse than it was with TVs 20 years ago.” Think about that for a minute. A new, George Jetson–style, 50-inch flat-panel HDTV hanging on the wall makes one of those old, 50-inch, three-CRT, rear-projection (analog) TVs look like something even Fred Flintstone would pass on. But put those two sets side by side, close your eyes, and give a good, long listen to a movie, a football game, or even the nightly news running on each one of them. Despite the 20 years of technological “improvements” between them, my highly educated (I am a professional, after all) guess is that most people will pick that hulking behemoth 50-inch console rear-projection TV as the one they’d rather have if sound quality were the only concern.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 11, 2011 3 comments
Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $1,975 At A Glance: Only 1.75 inches deep • Woofer frame is part of the steel speaker cabinet itself • Planar magnetic tweeter

As I sit in my theater room writing this, there’s an interesting juxtaposition in front of me. On the wall are three FineLine LCR-21 speakers neatly mounted around my Samsung plasma HDTV. Now that I’m finished with my listening tests of the FineLines, I’ve hauled my next set of review speakers (a MartinLogan ElectroMotion system) into the room in order to finish burning them in. The main MartinLogan EM-ESLs are floorstanding speakers that need to be positioned out from the wall to sound best. So there it is: small, svelte, unobtrusive panels on the wall versus slender, 52-inch-tall towers (plus associated speaker wires and power cables on the floor) that are unmistakably part of an audio system.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $2,000 At A Glance: Super-slim on-wall mounting • Twin-layered flat-diaphragm bass drivers • Tangerine waveguide to control high-frequency dispersion

According to a recent (and somewhat controversial) translation of a Dead Sea Scroll fragment, “Thou shalt not alloweth the tail to waggeth thy dog” was the eleventh commandment. Evidently, Moses ran out of room on the tablets and was understandably a little reluctant to ask the Big Guy to “hold that thought” while he scrounged around for another flat rock to chisel on. I think Moses was banking on the fact that he could always make a note in the margins later, but then there was that unfortunate idol-worshiping and throwing-of-the-tablets incident at the bottom of Mt. Sinai. When all was said and done, Moses completely forgot about adding that final admonition.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Aug 23, 2010 1 comments
Price: $3,912 At A Glance: Less than 2 inches thick, including the wall mount • Catenary-geometry-derived aluminum-dome woofers • Aluminum enclosure

How Perfect Can Perfect Get?

It’s always a big deal when Definitive Technology introduces a new speaker. Why? Well, as I’ve written in the past, the company has hit as many home runs as Mark McGwire—without the engineers taking any banned steroids, testosterone supplements, male-enhancement products, or vitamins. (That last part about the vitamins probably isn’t true. I’ll leave it to your imagination about the rest.) In the same way fans watched with anticipation and cameras flashed every time McGwire came up to bat, those of us who are lucky enough to do this sort of thing for a living eagerly await the chance to get our remote-control-stained hands on any new Definitive Technology speakers. Unlike with McGwire, it would be big news for the Definitive Technology team to strike out. None of us sitting in the press box really expect that to happen, though. We’re most interested in finding out how good the new speakers are going to be.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 28, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,396 At A Glance: Left and right speakers include concealed phantom center • Flat-panel form factor is ideal for wall mounting • Fabric wrap comes in black, gray, or cream

Hide the Center

What’s wrong with this word picture? A sexy flat-panel TV hangs on the wall. On either side of it are some almost equally sexy on-wall speakers, and the screen has a center speaker below it. Let’s assume that surround speakers and a subwoofer are elsewhere in the room. Surely this is a recipe for great audiovisual entertainment.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 22, 2009 0 comments
Price: $5,250 At A Glance: Ingenious wall mount • Extruded aluminum enclosures maximize cabinet volume and extend bass • Sub has convenient top-mount volume control

Heavy Metal Is Good

In 1976, the United States of America celebrated its bicentennial, and Peter Snell founded the loudspeaker company that bears his name.

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