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New Names, Configurations Enter Custom Speaker Market

9/16/2002 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Suppliers are expanding their selections of architectural speakers, entering the market for the first time, and serving up new configurations intended to compete with traditional box speakers as primary movie- and music-listening speakers.

Atlantic Technology and M&K, for example, will show expanded architectural lines at CEDIA's Expo, and Boston Acoustics and Sonance will demonstrate new "invisible home theater" speakers. These LCR speakers are mounted high in the ceiling, but the perceived sound seems to emanate from screen height.

Speaker makers are also trying to improve the fidelity of outdoor speaker systems. Boston Acoustics and OWI, for example, will show their first outdoor subwoofers.

Also at the show:

  • At least two brands will enter the residential custom market: Elan and Mitek's Atlas brand.

  • And KEF and Atlas will bring commercial-grade speakers to the residential channel to tap residential installers that have delved into the commercial market.

Here's what installers will find:

Atlantic Technology: The company has expanded its in-wall line for home theaters with the System 5 at an estimated street price of $275 each. With 6.5-inch woofer and swiveling 1-inch tweeter, it can be mounted horizontally or vertically for front-channel applications, and when mounted above and behind listeners, it can be used as a surround speaker. It can also be used with pairs intended for surround applications: the in-wall System 6 and the in-ceiling System 8.

Also new is a top-of-the-line enclosed speaker system that will be the company's first THX Ultra 2-certified system. It will come with features suiting it for installation in sophisticated A/V cabinets. Some versions will hit a five-figure price point. Details were unavailable.

Boston Acoustics: The company's first outdoor sub and first three-way in-ceiling speaker are on tap. The Voyager outdoor sub, at a suggested $700, can be mounted between a deck's joists or buried vertically in a garden. A 12-inch driver is mounted in a gray, sealed UV-resistant polyethylene enclosure.

The $800-suggested VRi595 in-ceiling speaker, part of the VRi series of reference architectural speakers, features a vertically aligned tweeter/midrange combo on a recessed angled baffle that fires forward to the listening position. The baffle rotates to further adjust the firing direction.

Unlike other in-ceiling speakers, it comes with boundary-compensation switch to compensate for mounting near wall/ceiling corners or other reflective spots. It features 8-inch woofer, 3.5-inch neodymium midrange, and 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter.

DCM: As part of a product-line revamping, the Mitek-owned brand will show four new indoor architectural speakers and two surface-mounted outdoor speakers.

One in-wall and one in-ceiling feature 6.5-inch woofer, 1-inch tweeter, and ABS back can that acts as a vapor barrier. The in-wall's tweeter pivots.

The single-speaker stereo model features dual-voice-coil 6.5-inch woofer and twin .5-inch tweeters. A round weather-resistant model features ABS housing.

The two outdoor surface-mount speakers are two-way models, one with 8-inch woofer and the other with 5.25-inch woofer.

Pricing was unavailable.

Elan: The supplier of distributed-A/V and home-automation systems has developed its first in-wall/in-ceiling speaker line, the M Series, consisting of 22 speakers priced from $200-$800/pair in four series: contractor grade, entry level, mainline and premium. They feature narrow profiles, flexible stud-mounting flanges, and a multilegged clamping system to eliminate vibrations.

KEF: The company's smallest-footprint architectural speaker and a pivoting egg-shaped on-wall speaker will ship in the fall. The round Ci100QR architectural speaker, designed for in-wall or in-ceiling installs, requires a cutout of only 4.75 inches in diameter. The $175-each model comes with .7-liter back can and Uni-Q driver mounting design, which mounts the .75-inch tweeter in the acoustic center of the 4-inch woofer to enhance dispersion and off-axis imaging.

The egg-shaped Pro Egg two-way also features Uni-Q mounting of a .75-inch tweeter and 4-inch woofer. An adjustable ball joint attaches the speaker enclosure to its wall-mounting bracket. An optional 70/100-volt transformer is available for commercial installs. Its price is $250 each, or $280 each with optional transformer.

M&K: The company will expand its architectural line to at least eight SKUs from four with the launch of its first round speaker, its most compact rectangular model, and two opening-price models. The round SW50 and rectangular SW51 are two-way 5.25-inch models. The latter's baffle is 5.75 inches x 7.5 inches. Prices were unavailable. They're due around Oct. 1.

The two new opening-price models, the SW 52 5.25-inch two-way and the SW62 6.5-inch two-way, will be priced about $50 to $100 less per speaker from the two current opening price models at $399 and $599 each. Additional details were unavailable.

MTX: Two in-walls, three in-ceiling speakers, a round weather-resistant in-wall/in-ceiling model, and two enclosed indoor/outdoor speakers are in store from the Mitek-owned brand.

The 6.5-inch and 8-inch in-walls feature swivel-mounted tweeter, as do the 6.25-, 6-, and 8-inch in-ceiling models. The 5.25-inch in-ceiling speaker adds reversible grille for recessed or flush-mount look.

The enclosed indoor/outdoor models are two-way models whose polypropylene cabinets can be mounted horizontally or vertically. One comes with 5.25-inch woofer, the other with 8-inch woofer.

Prices were unavailable.

OWI: New products include the company's first rock subwoofer, first log-shaped subwoofer, and speakers that look like track lighting for installs on wood ceilings or plaster walls. Also new are two in-ceiling speakers and one in-wall, all the company's first with aluminum drivers.

The rock sub, at a tentative suggested $1,800, and the $1,600 log deliver response to 30Hz. The two Sound Trak track-lighting-style speakers are the $75-each 4-inch full-range ST81 and a $110-each three-way 4-inch model.

Two in-ceiling aluminum-driver speakers are two-way 6.5- and 8-inch models at $250 and $300/pair and a three-way in-wall model.

Parasound: Its new C series of architectural speakers has three in-walls and two in-ceiling models. The two-way 8-inch C285 and 6.5-inch C265 double the cone excursion of their predecessors and boost radiating piston area by 28 percent to improve bass response and deliver smoother extension at all listening levels. They carry a suggested $535 and $435/pair, respectively, and feature phase plugs and three-position treble adjust.

The C260 6.5-inch two-way retails for a suggested $285/pair.

Two round, two-way in-ceiling coaxials feature aimable tweeter and respective 8.5- and 6.5-inch woofers at $370 and $250/pair, respectively.

Phase Technology: Taking a cue from 1980's-style plate-mount car speakers, the Jacksonville, Fla., company is launching three in-ceiling speakers that use tweeters and tweeter/midrange combinations that are mounted off-center to reduce distortion from diffraction and reflections. The $425-each three-way CI-7.3 features 7-inch woofer, 1.5-inch soft-dome midrange and pivoting 1-inch-axis soft-dome tweeter.

The $250-each CI-6.1 two-way features 6.5-inch woofer and pivoting 1-inch tweeter. A single-speaker stereo model, the $225-each CI-6.2, features single 6.5-inch woofer with dual voice coil and two .75-inch dome tweeters.

Thiel: The company will show a new aluminum-cabinet version of its PowerPoint surface-mount speaker.

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