Custom Speakers: New Names Appear As Bezels Disappear

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Indianapolis - Some new names and new technologies appeared in custom-installed speakers at the CEDIA Expo, where the selection of bezel-less and narrow-bezel speakers also grew.

At the show:

  • Krell, startup GoldenEar and Savant launched their first architectural speakers.
  • Monitor Audio showed its first bezel-less speakers.
  • Niles and SpeakerCraft expanded their selections of bezel-less speakers.
  • Solus/Clements Loudspeakers unveiled the industry's first in-wall and in-ceiling speakers incorporating its H-PAS bass-extension technology.
  • Phase Technology launched 16-ohm installed speakers, enabling installers to run multiple speakers in parallel in a large zone.


Here's what attendees found at select booths:

Krell: The company brought its speaker technology to architectural speakers for the first time with the $5,000-each on-wall/in-wall Modulari Ion, which incorporates technologies from the company's reference in-room Modulari Duo.

The company is considering more in-wall/on-wall speakers and other architectural models.

The Ion, sized at 32 inches by 9.5 inches by 6 inches, can be installed in horizontal or vertical modes because of its driver array. As an in-wall, it extends past the wall by the same distance as most standard flat-panel TVs, the company said.

The tweeters go out to 64kHz. Woofers are positioned ahead of the tweeters to achieve time alignment between the woofer and tweeter.

They were built for Krell by Leon Speakers.

Monitor Audio: New CWT series in-wall and in-ceiling speakers are the brand's first with trim-less, or bezel-less, design and low-profile grilles for unobtrusive installs.

Also new: an addition to the brand's line of SoundFrame on-wall/in-wall speakers, which are designed to look like modern-styles picture frames for custom-printed artwork.

In the CWT series, all models feature technologies from the company's high-end in-room speakers, which are voice-matched to their custom counterparts. Three models are available -- 4-, 6- and 8-inch -- and each can be used with a square or round grille for in-wall or in-ceiling installs. They're priced at $150, $210 and $270 each, respectively.

All CWT models are less than 4 inches deep, and size has been reduced 25 percent compared with other models with the same-size drivers. Grilles are held in place by neodymium magnets.

Technologies included from the company's in-room speakers are C-CAM gold dome tweeters, which boost frequency response beyond 20kHz. The tweeters pivot up to 15 degrees in all directions toward the listening space to provide ideal imaging and reduce unwanted reflections when installed close to corners or wall boundaries.

In the SoundFrame series, Monitor is adding the two-way SoundFrame 3 at a suggested $399 each. It features pivoting C-CAM 1-inch tweeter and a 4-inch bass/mid driver. It's intended primarily as a surround speaker but can be used with or without a subwoofer for front-channel home-theater use or multi-room-audio installs.

SoundFrame cabinets are available in matte white or black with black or white grilles and black or white piano-lacquer frames. A paintable version has matt-white cabinet, matt-white frame and white-cloth grille frame. Color grille options are available.

Monitor has contracted with a printing company to offer custom-printed artwork for the frames.

Phase Technology: The company launched its first 16-ohm in-ceiling speakers, enabling integrators to run multiple speakers in parallel in a large single zone in classrooms and restaurants. Eight speakers can be run in stereo, or four speakers can be run in mono, presenting a 4-ohm load to an amplifier, the company said.

The speakers can also be installed in parallel in homes with large rooms, making it unnecessary to wire speakers in series/parallel to manage loads, said sales VP Duke Ducoff of parent MSE Audio. Residential installers have been asking for 16-ohm speakers, which are also available from commercial-audio companies, Ducoff said.

The 16-ohm speakers are an alternative to 70-volt speakers commonly used in larger commercial installs and requiring the installation of 70-volt transformers, he said.

Unless the speakers for 70-volt systems incorporate very large transformers in their back cans, the systems experience high insertion loss and a loss of frequency response at the high and low ends, he explained. And 70-volt amps are primarily mono, requiring two to drive a stereo zone.

The C1520, CI 620 and CI 820 are two-way coaxial ported speakers with integrated back cans feature 5-, 6- and 8-inch woofers, respectively. They're expected to ship in December at suggested retails of $328, $392 and $432 each. All feature a dispersion ring to deliver wide off-axis high- and mid-frequency coverage.

Savant Systems: The home-control and multi-room-audio supplier entered the custom-speaker market with a full range of models designed by Bay Audio.

With the launch, the company will offer a complete multi-room-audio solution consisting of speakers, a multi-room-audio controller/processor, and a 16-channel amplifier, which was introduced earlier this year.

The new speakers consist of four in-wall models, four in-ceiling models, an in-wall subwoofer and related mounting accessories. Details were unavailable.

SpeakerCraft: The company expanded its selection of bezel-less in-wall and in-ceiling speakers with magnet-mount grilles to deliver a less-obtrusive look.

The company showed 30 new models to complement the eight original models unveiled last year. The 30 will ship in the fourth quarter, with another 10 to come in the first quarter.

The original eight were priced from $199 to $699 each, and when the line is complete, the price range will expand upwards to $1,049 each.

Profile speakers are available with a choice of square and round grilles.

Wisdom Audio: The company showed the first two models in a new planar-magnetic in-wall speaker series called Insight, which will reduce the opening price points for the company's planar-magnetic architectural speakers to a range of around a suggested $1,000 each from a current $2,250 each.

The Insight series will range in price up to about $5,000 each and will ship sometime later this year.

The speakers will use a new planar magnetic design said to allow for greater efficiency and power handling.  They'll "establish an entirely new level of performance at their price points," said president Mark Glazier.

The company's current selection of planar-magnetic in-wall speakers range in price from $2,250 to $40,000 each and will remain in the company's selection.


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