Triad Atmos-Enabled InRoom Bronze LR-H Speaker System Review Page 2

I used four InRoom Bronze/4 SlimSubs—each one with its own dedicated RackAmp 350 DSP v2—permanently mounted in the walls of my theater room. (The RackAmp 350s were mounted in one of my OmniMount RE42 80-inch-tall A/V racks, not in the walls.) Two of the SlimSubs were installed facing each other in the left and right walls of the room about a foot-and-a-half from the front wall. The other two subs were also installed opposite each other in the side walls but much farther back in the room, around 15 feet from the front wall. (Overall, my room is 12 feet wide by 24 feet deep with an 8-foot-high ceiling.) I used all four subs for the home theater listening tests because, as I’ve discovered in the past, having four subwoofers in my theater room dramatically evens out the bass response throughout the room. Consequently, our overall system cost includes the cost of four $1,600 subwoofer/amp combos, or a whopping $6,400 for the bass reinforcement alone, but depending on your needs, there are other potentially more cost-effective approaches you can take (see below).

Raising the Ceiling of Sound
Not surprisingly, the InRoom Bronze LR-H—which is essentially an InRoom Bronze LCR with 4 inches of Atmos module built on top of it—sounded tonally like its Bronze brethren, both the non-Atmos InRoom Bronze Center used for center-channel duties and the In-Ceiling Bronze LCR models (not used here) that I tapped for my accompanying Atmos feature story. With movies, the soundstage across the front was seamless. For example, in The Expendables 3, during the opening scene where they rescue Doc from a prison train before ramming said train into the prison, the dialogue (such as it is) was clean and clear amidst the mayhem of destruction that happens across the front. When I listened to the same scene using all four LR-H speakers for the front and surround speakers in Dolby Atmos, the system created an amazing sense of open-air space throughout the room, while the action remained solidly in the front.

As expected with a system using five “identical” speakers (the four InRoom Bronze LR-Hs and the InRoom Bronze Center), the panning around the room was spot on. With Atmos engaged, the seamlessly surrounding soundstage remained, only with the engaging dimension of height tacked on. Again, in The Expendables 3, when Stonebanks is interrogating the younger group of Expendables as they are held up with ropes around their hands, both dialogue and subtle effects (such as the sound the ropes make as the prisoners sway) were clearly defined in a continuously surrounding circle. Atmos playback, on the other hand (so to speak), lifted the sounds of the swinging ropes high up towards the right rear.

The amazing thing about Triad’s InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub was not the low bass extension it provided—although there was nothing shallow about that aspect—but rather its apparent speed and clarity. The impact the sub had, whether it was during Shredder’s shredding and splintering of Splinter in Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles or during the complete and utter destruction of the prison in The Expendables 3, was solid and formidable. Still more impressive was the way it integrated with the satellites to make one coherent unit of sound rather than a recognizable “system.” This quality may be even more important to have with Atmos content, as was pointed out to me by my teenage (non-ninja and I think non-mutant) daughter when we watched Enrique Iglesias’s Bailando video in Dolby Atmos: There was actually a dimension of height to the bass that was totally in sync with the video. (It’s an awesome Atmos demo, by the way, and I don’t even like Enrique Iglesias.)

Four subs don’t give you deeper bass. Sure, they can generate more decibels; but the real benefit lies in the way they work together to energize the room in a way that a single subwoofer simply can’t do thanks to Isaac Newton and his damn physics. Obviously, though, not everyone can plunk down $6,400 for four Triad in-wall SlimSubs. A single SlimSub is still an amazing performer in both integration and impact, although it can’t smooth out the room modes all by itself. Furthermore, you may not need an in-wall sub at all. In that case, Triad’s On-Wall Bronze SlimSub ($1,600), designed for on-wall mounring, or InRoom Bronze SlimSub, for open display or hiding under a couch or cabinet ($1,600 each) are said to offer similar performance. Triad’s InRoom Bronze sub (also $1,600) is a more traditional cabinet version with the same amp.

It’s Got Body and Soul
The two-channel performance of the InRoom Bronze LR-Hs was stellar. Take “Be My Number Two” from Joe Jackson’s Body and Soul, an album that was recorded inside the stone-and-wood hall of an old Masonic Lodge. The song starts with Jackson singing and playing the piano. It’s an intimate and poignant beginning, and the LR-Hs were quite adept at reproducing the subtle details and nuances of both the piano and Jackson’s slightly uneven voice. About two-thirds of the way through the song, though, when the drums kick in with full force, what began as an intimate performance became an entire wall of sound. Since the LR-Hs are rated down to only 88 hertz, this was when the InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub really came to life. (I used only one of the subwoofers for music testing.) Still, the sub sounded tight, and the blending with the rest of the system was fantastic. As a result, if you walked into my home theater and didn’t know there was a sub in the room—which is likely, since the SlimSub is an in-wall subwoofer—you’d be simply astounded at what you thought was the low-end extension of the LR-Hs.

The subwoofer, however, wasn’t the only component able to disappear. Take the case of a different sort of “Body and Soul,” Charles Mingus’ solo piano recording from Mingus Plays Piano. His performance is tight, taut, and together—and here, the LR-Hs simply melted away, allowing the piano to become fully formed in the room during both the quick, sharp sections and the smoother and more peaceful intervals. In a similar manner, the extremely neutral character of the speakers allowed the woody-sounding body of Mark Knopfler’s acoustic guitar on “Heart of Oak” (from the Deluxe Edition of Tracker) to come through splendidly, while at the same time reproducing the snap of the strings. In contrast, on the same album’s “Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes” (a good description of a Sound & Vision editorial meeting), the soundstage was especially wide, with lots of instrumentation, discretely placed background vocals, and an impressive drum line that, as with the Joe Jackson cut, seemed to magically come from an invisible set of drums placed behind the speakers.

There are two reasons why it’s easy to recommend Triad’s InRoom Bronze LR-H speakers to anyone who’s contemplating putting together a Dolby Atmos home theater system. First of all, the speakers are one of what for now remains a limited number of Atmos-enabled speakers currently on the market. But really, that’s immaterial, because I’d recommend the LR-H even if there were a hundred Atmos speakers to choose from. It’s a truly excellent monitor-style speaker for both two-channel music and old-style 5.1-channel movies (when paired with a Bronze-series sub) that can also “raise the roof” when more Atmos-encoded Blu-rays start appearing in stores. That’s a win-win—and a speaker that’s an all-around (and all-above) winner.

Triad Speakers, Inc.
(503) 256-2600