Although "audiophile ceiling-speaker" might seem an oxymoron of the same magnitude as "English cuisine" or "American diplomacy," that didn't stop a number of speaker companies from releasing new models at the recent CEDIA show, all claiming high performance. The interest is perfectly understandable: Ceiling speakers are beloved of buyers of whole-house media systems (and airport PA designers) because they require zero floor space and disappear into rooms. For several reasons, however, they usually sound mediocre - frequently downright bad. I'd never heard a good one, until now. Thiel, a small, high-end maker of long standing and sterling reputation based in Lexington, Kentucky, has attempted this feat in its PowerPoint 1.2, with results not far from astonishing.
SETUP Like Alexander with the Gordian knot, Thiel solved its problem with a single sword-stroke, by taking the ceiling-speaker out of the ceiling. The Thiel PowerPoint 1.2 ceiling speaker ($1,450 each) is a high-performance, coincident-source two-way speaker in a contoured, cast-aluminum "pod" that mounts to the ceiling, with the tail near the juncture of a wall. This third-of-a-watermelon enclosure is very rigid and non-resonant. Equally important, it provides fixed foreknowledge of the driver's location relative to the two primary reflective surfaces, allowing the Thiel to optimize its sound in ways impossible with traditional ceiling speakers.
I'll spare readers the acrobatics whereby I affixed three PowerPoints to my ceiling without boring yet more holes into my long-suffering studio: It worked, but somewhere, Rube Goldberg was smiling. Fortunately, a permanent installation requires just two 0.06-inch holes in solid wood or a pair of fairly small ones in drywall using molly bolts (all supplied). My surround-channel 'Points went, as usual, on high, sidewall shelves, but shimmed up to be flush to the ceiling. The handsome, compact SmartSub SS1 ($2,900) sat in my established sub location, just left of the front-left channel.
At Thiel's urging I eschewed the crossover circuit in my processor for the company's own PX 05 passive crossover ($500). This small, nicely finished component is supplied custom-tuned to your particular Thiel models, accepting speaker-level signals from all five channels and summing their bass content to a single subwoofer output.
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