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Custom Speakers Assume New Forms, Functions

9/05/2007 11:00:00 PM Eastern

DENVER— Factory-level sales of architectural speakers, including outdoor speakers, stalled during the first half of the year, rising only 1.7 percent to $139 million, Consumer Electronics Association statistics show. But you wouldn’t know it from the frenzied pace of architectural speaker introductions here at the CEDIA Expo.

Here’s what installers will find from a variety of suppliers:

Artison: Four powered-subwoofer models in the RCC series of reactance-canceling subs include two in-wall models and two cabinet versions. All feature DSP-based automatic room equalization and movie and music modes. The $1,500-suggested 600-watt RCC 600 and $800 300-watt RCC 300 in-wall models have floorstanding counterparts, the $1,700 RCC 600 and $900 RCC 300 with integrated 600- and 300-watt amps. The in-wall models must be paired with the $999 RCC 600 amplifier and $699 RCC 300 amplifier.

AudioSource: An in-wall LCR and a pair of in-wall subs get a hearing here. The $169-each AS515 LCR features dual 5.25-inch woofers flanked by a swiveling tweeter. The subs are the $129 8-inch AS8SW and $169 10-inch AS10SW. Prices are per pair. AudioSource parent Rodin, previously known as Phoenix Gold, owns the Phoenix Gold and Carver brands.

DCM: The Mitek Corp. brand expanded its selection of architectural speakers with 11 new models in the Time Piece and Time Domain series, all with pivoting dome tweeters. Five new Time Domain speakers, all shipping, consist of a 6.5-inch in-wall, 8- and 6.5-inch in-ceiling models, and two single-speaker-stereo in-ceiling models with two tweeters. One features one 6.5-inch dual-voice-coil woofer, and the other has an 8-inch woofer.

Pricing was unavailable.

Definitive Technology: The company is expanding its Reference series of home theater architectural speakers with smaller versions of an in-ceiling LCR and a dedicated in-wall/in-ceiling bipolar surround. The RCS III LCR, which can also be used as surrounds, retails for a suggested $250 each. It features an angled baffle aimed at the listening area, one tweeter, two active midbass drivers and two 5.25-inch passive radiators to deliver 30Hz-30kHz response. It ships in February along with the $800/pair RSS III surrounds.

Infinity: The ERS 610 in-ceiling speaker at a suggested $599 each uses the brand’s MRS flat-panel-driver technology, which consist of a flat-panel woofer diaphragm made from lightweight, rigid Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm (CMMD) material to boost clarity and resolution. The diaphragm operates in conjunction with a dual-elliptical voice coil for higher efficiency and dynamic capability. The MRS woofer is joined by two 3-inch CMMD midrange drivers and a 1-inch CMMD tweeter in a waveguide to optimize high-frequency dispersion. The drivers are mounted on angled

baffles in a way said to deliver superior imaging and a more realistic sound field compared to conventional in-ceiling speakers.

KEF: The company is entering the commercial speaker market, featuring back cans, 70/100-volt multi-tap transformers, and KEF’s coincident-driver Uni-Q speaker design. They consist of three in-ceiling speakers, an in-ceiling subwoofer and an outdoor speaker designed for foreground music in retail, commercial and hospitality applications.

JBL: The company is expanding its Studio L architectural series with the $599-each in-ceiling LS360C home theater speaker, due in October. It uses a flat-panel woofer on its own angled baffle and dual 3-inch midranges and a 1-inch tweeter on a second angled baffle to improve dispersion and expand the sound field. It features boundary-compensation switch and tweeter-level control.

Niles: Eight new speakers in the CM in-ceiling series and two new in-wall subs are on tap. The eight in-ceiling models round out the CM series mix by adding center-channel models and surround models voice-matched to the company’s in-ceiling Directed Soundfield models, which feature independently pivoting woofers and tweeters to focus sound directly into the listening area. The new CM models feature pivoting woofers and tweeters and selectable bipole/dipole surrounds. Suggested prices are $249 and $299 each for the two center channels, $449 and $549 per pair of surrounds, and 8-inch two-ways at $349, $399 and $499 per pair. A $274 8-inch two-way single-speaker-stereo model is also new.

Phase Technology: The company’s eight-generation custom series deliver greater efficiency, 4dB more bass output, enhanced crossovers and thicker wires in a variety of round and rectangular models that carry a new lifetime limited warranty.

Phoenix Gold: The ATO 42, 52 and 62 indoor/outdoor speakers are two-way weather-resistant models with 4-, 5.25- and 6.5-inch woofers, respectively, and power handling capacities of 75, 100 and 125 watts. They’re priced at $139, $159 and $189 per pair.

Polk: Two IP-ready speakers are designed for use with NetStreams’s IP-based multiroom-audio system, which sends control signals and content over CAT-5 Ethernet wiring to simplify installation and eliminate signal loss. (For more on Polk’s entire lineup, see p. 39.)

The two speakers, the round $175-each SC80 IPR and the $215-each rectangular SC85 IPR, are 8-inch two-way models whose internal passive crossovers can be bypassed with the flip of a switch to connect to NetStreams’s network, which delivers biamplified power, music and DSP processing to optimize the speaker’s performance.

Pinnacle: The brand’s first on-ceiling speaker is designed for MDUs and retrofit applications, though it can also be used on-wall. The two-way OC HT 1 features circular pod-like cabinet with angled baffle that holds a 1-inch dome tweeter and 5.25-inch woofer. The white-piano-gloss cabinet is almost 9 inches in diameter and 4.38 inches in maximum depth with grille. They retail for a suggested $349 each or $99 for a three-pack.

SpeakerCraft: The company expanded its selection of Time motorized

in-ceiling speakers with three new smaller models. Their drivers are mounted at a fixed 45-degree angle in a cylinder that descends from the ceiling when activated by a unit that controls the movement of up to eight Time speakers. The Time Mini 2, at $315, uses a 2.5-inch full-range driver and has en exterior diameter of 5.75 inches. The Time Mini 5.1, at $465, and Time Mini 5.3, at $565, are two-way models with 5-inch woofers, dome tweeters and exterior diameter of 7.5 inches.