By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
San Clemente, Calif. - Sonance revamped its Visual Performance series of low-profile micro-trim in-wall and in-ceiling speakers to deliver a major enhancement in audio performance, the company said.
The series, designed to be visually unobtrusive, delivers better off-axis response, consistent frequency response at all listening levels, lower distortion at higher volumes, and deeper bass at higher SPLs, the company said.
Simon Wehr, marketing director of Sonance parent Dana Innovations, called them “the best sounding at their price points” compared to other brands’ architectural speakers.
Prices range from $350/pair to $2,500/pair for round in-ceiling and rectangular in-wall two- and three-way speakers whose magnet-mount grilles feature a 0.2mm-wide micro-trim, or bezel. The grilles protrude from a wall or ceiling only by about an eighth of an inch.
More than 50 new Visual Performance models will ship August 1, including 4- and 6-inch two-way models, 8-inch three-way models, LCR models, single-speaker stereo models. Cinema speakers, subwoofers and woofers as well as an indoor/outdoor speaker will be carried over from the previous line, bringing the series’ SKU count to more than 60.
The series also includes its first single-speaker stereo models that convert to surround-sound speakers when a switch is flipped to put their dual tweeters into dipole mode. Six such models are priced from $380 to $875 each.
Also for the first time, the series gets optional square adapters for installing round speakers in a round hole and making the speakers look square. The solution also prevents the speaker’s round driver from appearing through the grille as a visible circle, said Wehr. Sonance accomplishes that by making the frame and square mounting surface the same color as the round driver.
The adapters enabled Sonance to eliminate square speakers as separate SKUs in the line and make it easier for installers to align one speaker with another because they don’t have to make sure they’re cutting a perfect square into a wall or ceiling, Wehr said.
In addition, the corners of the grille sit up tight against the ceiling because magnets on the outer edges of the frame hold the grille in place.
Like before, the two-way in-ceiling speakers feature a woofer and tweeter that pivot in tandem by 13 degrees left or right to direct sound toward the listening position. The tweeters independently pivot another 13 degrees to a maximum 26-degree angle. Two-way in-wall speakers feature only a pivoting tweeter.
Eight-inch three-way in-ceiling speakers feature pivoting woofer and an independently pivoting tweeter/midrange combo. Three-way in-wall speakers feature pivoting tweeter/midrange combo and fixed woofer.
The latest models offer a very consistent power response to +/-60 degrees off-axis, delivering a wide sweet spot that in turn enables the speakers to be installed in spots that offer the best aesthetics but still deliver excellent imaging even if they are off-axis from the listening position, the company said.
The company accomplished this goal by using low-diffraction tweeters and positioning woofers 50 percent farther forward, reducing early reflections and producing imaging similar to that of a high-end cabinet speaker, Wehr said.
The woofers were also redesigned to deliver almost three times the excursion of the previous speakers to deepen bass response, boost output, and reduce distortion at high listening levels, he said.
Also to lower distortion and to deliver consistent tonality at any volume, Sonance improved the linearity of the woofers’ magnetic field and designed a very linear suspension system, he said.
The new series will join the Invisible speaker series, which features drivers covered by a flat radiating surface that in turn butts up against drywall to become part of the wall itself and painted to disappear from view.
The new series also joins the top-end Architectural series, whose speakers lack bezels and whose grilles mount flush to the plane of the wall or ceiling for a near-invisible look.
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