Sound ChoicesTypically, in-wall speakers are rectangular, and ceiling speakers are circular - there's no real reason for this except that we're used to seeing rectangular objects (pictures, mirrors) on walls and circular objects (lights) on the ceiling. Most in-wall/ceiling speakers follow this pattern, but several companies are using unusual designs and technologies that belie their products' traditional appearance.
Triad's Gold/6 Omni series (left) lets you mount from left, center, and right speakers in the ceiling; Definitve Technology's UIW BPZ/A in-wall/ceiling speaker (center) uses a bipolar design to create a more diffuse sound; the Sonance Symphony 622T in-wall speaker (right) has a pivoting 1-inch tweeter, and its mounting bracket can be used with any speakers in the Symphony line.
SpeakerCraft, for example, has a 7-foot-tall in-wall called the Rogue that sports eight 5 1/4 -inch magnesium/aluminum woofers and a 6-foot planar-magnetic ribbon for the high frequencies. Of course, it costs $50,000 a pair! The company also offers a 1,000-watt ceiling subwoofer. And B&W has incorporated some of the technology from its ultra-high-end Nautilus freestanding speakers in the Signature 8NT ($1,700 each). The Nautilus tube, for instance, is tapered to absorb the tweeter's back wave and reduce unwanted colorations.
Meridian 's DSP420 in-wall speaker ($5,000 a pair) is unique in having separate 85- and 65-watt amplifiers for bass and treble, respectively, built in along with digital signal processing to adjust the sound to taste. Lower down the price curve are Atlantic Technology's TriMode ceiling speakers ($275 to $400 each), which feature a pair of offset tweeters that can be driven in phase (bi-pole) for music, out of phase (dipole) for surround sound, or in stereo.
But one of the most interesting in-wall speakers is from Sound Advance. The SA2 ($1,000 a pair) is a planar-magnetic flat-panel speaker that actually replaces a portion of the drywall. Once installed with the supplied vellum overlay, it can be covered with paint, wallpaper, or several textured finishes, rendering it completely invisible.
"It's a very cool, unique product, especially for homes that have serious artwork, where the owners want nothing on their walls except art and lighting," says Harvey's Tom De Stio, who typically marries the speaker with either an in-wall or in-floor subwoofer. "It actually becomes an integral part of the wall. For decorators who don't want to see even a micro-grille, it's a perfect solution."
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.