Who Are You and What Have You Done With Sonance?

Can an interior designer learn to love a speaker that's not camouflaged in the wall?  One of the founding companies of the huge in-wall/-in-ceiling speaker market is banking on it and even believes a little visibility might be a good thing.

Sonance gave reporters at CEDIA last week a peek at a hanging speaker that's more supersized lighting fixture than loudspeaker. The company went to Italy--where else?--to find its design partner, NAC Sound, and came away with some gorgeous handmade ceramic speakers that are not only meant to be seen, but are sure to be conversation pieces to boot. Finished in graphite and copper glaze, the cone-shaped speakers can be be used inside or out.

According to Ari Supran, chief sales office for Sonance, the highly stylized speakers will help position Sonance as a designer brand with architects and interior designers. The  speakers--perhaps designed more for the eye than the ear--could come stateside next year.

The NAC venture is part of an overall Sonance push to be the speaker supplier of choice to the design market. Last year the company introduced an architectural in-wall/in-ceiling series that basically eliminated the speaker bezel altogether. That left it up to installers to cut a neat line in the sheetrock--a very tough assignment that we've yet to see handled artfully.

At CEDIA 2007, Sonance struck a happy medium with the standard in-wall speaker, taking the wraps off an attractive, contemporary quarter-inch frame that hides the sheetrock cutout. The slim bezel is a welcome upgrade to the worn 3/4-inch flange design made popular in the '80s and '90s.--Rebecca Day