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JL Audio Fathom IWS-SYS-1 In-Wall Subwoofer System Review
Darryl Wilkinson | Jul 05, 2017
Performance Features Build Quality Value PRICE $4,500 (plus installation) AT A GLANCE Plus Enclosure designed for walls with standard 2 x 4 construction 13.5-inch low-profile driver 1,000-watt external amp with Automatic Room Optimization Minus Retrofit install can be difficult Expensive THE VERDICT This subwoofer system does the seemingly impossible in an impossibly seeming way by hiding an amazingly shallow, high-excursion 13.5-inch woofer, along with the 70-inch-tall cabinet it requires, inside a wall having standard 2 x 4 construction, with only a driver-hiding grille screen as evidence—and it does this surprising feat without causing excessive wall vibrations. Even better, it does all that while performing like a top-end in-room sub. If I needed additional proof of how much Rob Sabin, our esteemed editor-in-chief (and part-time male stripper for the visually impaired) dislikes me, this would be it. He asks me the other day if I’d want to review another JL Audio subwoofer, one similar to the company’s ginormous Fathom f212, which I reviewed in 2012. I have fond memories of, bruises from, and a partial hernia caused by that 220-pound behemoth.
Morel SoundWall LCR4 SW In-Wall Modular Soundbar System Review
Darryl Wilkinson | Sep 12, 2016
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $3,497 as reviewed AT A GLANCE Plus Requires no modifications to internal wall structure Adjustable-width grille Minus Passive system Needs a subwoofer THE VERDICT If you like simplicity and hate seeing speakers, but demand high performance for music and movies, these SoundWalls may be what you’ve been waiting for. I could start this review by making a comparison between Morel, the loudspeaker company, and morel, the type of mushroom. But someone would no doubt castigate me (or worse) for not referring to morchella, the more technically correct name for morel mushrooms—and therefore, that same someone would deem my comparison to be a mighty poor excuse for an introduction to a Test Report. So, I’ll simply say that Morel is an unusual speaker company, in many ways.
Origin Acoustics Director D108 In-Ceiling Speaker Review
Darryl Wilkinson | Nov 05, 2015
Performance Build Quality Value PRICE $1,600 each, $14,400 as reviewed AT A GLANCE Plus Tool-free twist-lock mounting 10-inch woofer fits an 8-inch cutout Aimable tweeter and midrange Minus Requires 7.5 inches of mounting depth Wants lots of power Raised soundstage THE VERDICT No in-ceiling architectural speaker is perfect, but the D108 comes stunningly, spectacularly close. Love him, hate him, or simply wonder what’s up with all the tattoos, there’s no denying the fact that Jeremy Burkhardt is one of those distinct personalities who has had a profound effect on the custom audio/video industry. Then again, he may be someone you’ve never heard of, unless you’re in the custom installation business. Unlike other notables—such as Polk, Carver, and Bose—Burkhardt isn’t the name of a speaker brand. Nevertheless, if you’ve listened to a set of in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, especially one of the bazillion or more models SpeakerCraft has produced over the past 25 years (including tons built for other brands), you’ve felt—or, rather, heard—Burkhardt’s influence on architectural audio.
Niles Cynema Soundfield CSF55A In-Wall Soundbar System
Darryl Wilkinson | Mar 27, 2014
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $2,547 AT A GLANCE Plus A 55-inch horizontal soundbar that can be installed without modifying the wall studs Can learn volume and mute IR codes from your TV’s remote Excellent simulated surround and music processing Minus Really needs a subwoofer Only one HDMI input THE VERDICT The Niles CSF55A is more expensive than a similarly performing active soundbar, but it’s well worth it for the person who wants the gear to disappear without giving up any sound quality. It’s either the craziest flippin’ idea ever, or it’s absolutely brilliant. I mean, in-wall speakers are one thing. Soundbars, though, especially active soundbars, are completely different creatures. But somebody at Niles—whether inspired by an offhanded joke, an improbable Frankenstein-like engineering experiment, or an alcohol-infused haze after a tedious sales meeting—decided that what the world needs is an active, in-wall soundbar system to complement wall-mounted flat-panel TVs.
Triad InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub and RackAmp 350 DSP Subwoofer Amp
Darryl Wilkinson | Oct 11, 2013
Performance Build Quality Value PRICE $1,400 AT A GLANCE Plus Installer setup over IP Options for wide, narrow, and frameless grilles Six-band parametric EQ Minus Installation may be tricky for the uninitiated THE VERDICT Extensive tuning capabilities make for true high-end performance at an affordable price. When it comes to architectural speakers, there are few companies I can think of that do things in a more focused, more insightful, and—most important when it comes to custom installations—more useful way than Triad. The company stands out in another way, too, in that most of Triad’s speakers are built to order in the U.S. (Portland, Oregon, to be specific) and are usually less than two weeks old by the time they arrive at the dealer’s warehouse door.
Sunfire HRS-IW8 In-Wall Subwoofer and Amp
Darryl Wilkinson | Oct 11, 2013
Performance Build Quality Value PRICE $1,700 AT A GLANCE Plus Stillbass anti-shake technology keeps vibration in the box and out of the wall 520-watt amplifier with DSP equalization Outstanding build quality Minus Flangeless grille looks less than elegant Output drops off fast below 30 Hz THE VERDICT A solid, albeit pricey, choice for an in-wall sub. Sunfire is no stranger to the small-box, high-output subwoofer concept, dating all the way back to 1996 with company founder Bob Carver’s original True Subwoofer—an 11.5-inch cube with one active driver and one passive radiator powered by a (claimed) 2,700-watt internal amplifier.
Stealth Acoustics B30G Subwoofer and 255R Subwoofer Amp
Darryl Wilkinson | Oct 11, 2013
Performance Build Quality Value PRICE $1,150 AT A GLANCE Plus Totally invisible installation Can be covered with paint, wallpaper, or select specialized wall treatments Good value 250-watt amplifier with low-pass filter Outstanding build quality Minus More involved installation due to drywall finishing Soft bass compared with traditional subs THE VERDICT Not the first choice for sheer sonic impact, but if aesthetics absolutely demand that no subwoofer or grille be visible, the B30G will get the job done. Stealth Acoustics’ B30G subwoofer system is unlike nearly any other you’ll ever hold in your hands—or install in your walls. While “invisible” speakers are not a new thing, they’re still uncommon or, for most people, totally unheard of. A speaker that’s an integral part of your wall, one that can be painted, covered with wallpaper, or even done up with special wall treatments is such a seductive idea that it’s a wonder it’s not wildly popular as an architectural speaker design.
Wisdom Audio Insight P4i In-Wall Speaker System
Darryl Wilkinson | Sep 20, 2013
Performance Build Quality Value Price $9,250 (updated 3/10/15) At a Glance Plus Planar magnetic thin-film drivers Solid Uni-grip mounting clamps Thin magnetically attached grilles available in custom lengths Truly outstanding sound quality Minus Horizontal center channel use requires stud modifications Definitely not the cheapest in-wall system you can buy The Verdict It might bust your budget on the front end, but the Wisdom Insight delivers a near-electrostatic, audiophile listening experience in a disappearing, in-wall package. If you’re intimately familiar with Wisdom Audio, then you’re more dialed into this industry than I am. Sure, I’ve breezed by the company’s booth at past CEDIA Expos, but when I hear that name it always brings to mind the image of a of an old guy in a flowing robe with a long, white beard (and maybe a Harry Potter–esque wizard’s hat) sitting in an overstuffed chair in front of an audio system, his beard and hat being blown back à la the old Memorex advertising campaign.
Artison Masterpiece LCR-DM On-Wall Speaker System
Darryl Wilkinson | Oct 28, 2011
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.
BG Radia LA-550 In-Wall Speaker System
Gary Altunian | Mar 29, 2011
Price: $17,800 At A Glance: Excellent clarity and transparency • Great system value • Awesome bass Pure Magic As a contributing writer for Home Theater magazine, I’m often the go-to guy for reviewing large in-wall speaker systems that other writers can’t or won’t review, usually for lack of adequate space. I have enough space, and I enjoy listening to new speakers, especially high-end types. It’s a lot of work and it disrupts an otherwise orderly living room, but I’m not complaining.