Niles StageFront Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

With an asymmetric speaker like the PRO2870, you ideally want the midrange and the tweeter to be vertically aligned and positioned toward the inside. So Niles lets you rotate the midrange/tweeter mounting plate to optimize each speaker for the left, center, or right position. Furthermore, the pod holding these drivers can be tilted up and down to help ensure phase coherence and an even image height across the front soundstage. Additionally, each speaker has level controls for the tweeter and the midrange, plus a pair of switches: one to adjust the overall pod level, and another to fine-tune the bass alignment for near-wall placement.

Get the picture? Niles has made this lineup highly tunable, allowing installers to optimize the sound and meet the placement demands of any room setup.

With that in mind, the in-wall IW770FX is one of the most adjustable surround speakers I've ever encountered. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to imagine anyone who wouldn't be able to find a setting to match their listening preferences. Unlike many lesser speakers that use the wall cavity as a crude cabinet, this is a complete in-wall ported enclosure, incorporating what is essentially two speakers in one. It's a direct-radiating two-way using a 7-inch woofer and a 1-inch dome tweeter on the bottom, with a four-driver, angled dipole/bipole array on top. A fader lets you adjust the balance between the direct drivers and the upper array, while a switch lets you select the phase of one set of the upper drivers for either a bipole or dipole effect. In a really slick move, Niles has also given the dipole/bipole switch a 12-volt trigger input, so you can set up your surround processor or control system to automatically switch the array to dipole with certain sources, and bipole with others, something that should work well for going between surround movies and music.

Combining many of the features seen in the PRO2870 and the IW770, the PRO770FX on-wall speaker has a three-way forward-firing array, along with pairs of sideways-firing mids and tweeters. The forward-facing midrange and tweeter are mounted in a swiveling pod like that of the LCR, although with a soft dome midrange driver rather than the cone. Again, we have the dipole/bipole switching options for the sideways-firing drivers, including a 12-volt remote trigger relay like that of the in-wall version.

Because the compact main speakers have been designed more for high output than for deep bass, the role of the subwoofer is particularly important in this system. To cover this critical region, we have the PRO15SW, a seriously hefty 1,000-watt brute, although still able to fit within the confines of a standard A/V shelf. Given the sub's wide slot port that runs across the bottom of the front panel, one install option would be to place it on the floor within a cabinet, with the port venting through a cloth-covered panel on the cabinet footer. While the defeatable crossover and infinitely adjustable phase control are nice features, what makes the PRO15SW stand out is its dual level controls, with separate settings available for music and movie listening. As with the bipole/dipole switch on the surround speakers, this can be triggered automatically.