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Polk Expands In-Wall Subwoofer Line

Indianapolis — Polk expanded its selection of custom installed speakers with its first in-wall subwoofers in about 15 years and its first THX-certified in-wall speaker.

During the CEDIA Expo, Polk also broadened the potential installer base for two IP-based in-wall speakers unveiled last year by making IP-addressability an option rather than standard.

In other product announcements, the company showed its first single-enclosure five-channel surround speaker system, the $949-suggested 43-inch wide, 4.5-inch tall SurroundBar, which delivers bass down to 80Hz and ships in October. Designed for use with flat-panel displays, it employs three woofer/tweeter combos to deliver the three front channels. Each surround channel is reproduced by dual woofers. Each channel connects to an A/V receiver’s speaker outputs via five sets of binding posts that are color coded and marked for easy connection.

To deliver surround effects without reflecting sound off side walls, SurroundBar uses passive circuitry to cancel surround-channel inter-aural cross talk and thus extend the soundstage beyond the actual locations of the drivers. The passive technology, called SDA Surround, also equalizes the surround drivers’ signals in a way that alters the perceived direction of sound. The equalization curve is based on how the shape of the ear’s pina, or visible portion, enables people to detect the direction of a sound.

SDA Surround provides a wide, deep soundstage extending far out to the sides and wrapping around behind the listener, Polk said. SDA Surround also achieves continuous side-to-side and front-to-back imaging so that sounds transition smoothly from the front, around the sides and to the rear.

SDA Surround is based on Polk’s late 1980’s SDA (Stereo Dimensional Array) speakers, which cancels inter-aural crosstalk.

In its architectural speaker launches, the company launched its first-ever THX-certified speaker of any kind, freestanding or architectural. With THX Ultra II certification pending, the in-wall RTS 105 is due December at a suggested $1,400 each. It’s the company’s first in-wall speaker to mount to wall studs, via expandable metal supports, rather than directly to wallboards to minimize wallboard vibration. It also comes with integrated enclosure that’s the same size as the speaker cutout, enabling it to be installed after sheetrock goes up.

Dual 5.25-inch woofers flanked by a 15-degree-swiveling tweeter enable it to be mounted vertically or horizontally. Room-placement compensation controls correct for speaker boom when speakers are installed close to adjacent walls without lowering deep bass response, the company said. A tweeter attenuation switch engages a band-pass filter to compensate for the “bright” response of speakers in overly reflective rooms.

In other architectural speakers, Polk launched three in-wall subwoofers, whose suggested retails rose from previously disclosed prices to $1,325 to $1,650 from an originally planned $1,000 to $1,300, including outboard amplifier. “These are the first built-in subwoofers from Polk Audio since the AB900 bandpass model offered between 1989 and 1991,” a spokesman said.

Availability of one model, the in-wall CSW88, has been pushed into early 2006, but got pushed back into early 2006. The other two, developed for in-ceiling/in-floor installation.

The CSW88 in-wall features dual 8-inch long-throw, shallow-basket woofers mounted behind a metal pressure plate in a sealed enclosure built from MDF wood and eighth-inch aluminum panels to eliminate resonances. At 60 inches by 13.5 inches by 3.5 inches, it fits in standard stud walls without protruding into the room.

Bass enters the room via a 10-inch by 4-inch vent that looks like an air vent.

The CSW100, due November, is an in-ceiling/in-floor design that can also be placed in entertainment cabinets. It uses a single 10-inch woofer in a bandpass enclosure made of low-resonance MDF. Measuring 26.2 inches by 13 inches by 9 inches, it fits in standard joist spacing and in smaller Quiet Floor joist spacing. Bass frequencies exit the enclosure via a 2-inch by 12-inch vent

The CSW200, due in October, is also an in-ceiling/floor model with a direct radiating 10-inch driver in a 1.5-cubic-foot slot-load vented MDF enclosure with 12-inch by 12-inch grille opening. Its large enclosure size at 35.6 inches by 13 inch by 9 inches, and its long-throw woofer deliver heaps of bass while fitting in the tight joist spacing of QuietFloor construction.

All three subwoofers are powered by an external Class D amplifier that delivers 500 watts continuous into 4 ohms. The amp ships with three plug-in crossover/equalization cards, one for each subwoofer. Each card is preprogrammed to the equalization, infrasonic filter characteristics and power output for a particular subwoofer.

In tweaking its plans for IP in-wall powered speakers, Polk will cut back its planned selection to two models from four, delay shipments to October from a planned spring 2005 launch, and make IP-addressability an option with a plug-in TCP/IP card at about $200 each.

Installers can order cards from Polk partner NetStreams, which offers an IP-based distributed audio system that sends control signals and content over CAT-5 Ethernet wiring to simplify installation and eliminate signal loss.

The IP-speaker selection was reduced to two to get the products out faster, the company said. As previously planned, the two speakers will offer onboard digital amplifiers, electronic crossovers, and DSP circuitry to compensate for room acoustics and speaker placement.

The two speakers are the round in-ceiling two-way, biamped LC80i and the triamped rectangular three-way in-wall LC265i at suggested retails of $1,200 and $1,500 each, respectively. The price excludes an $800 48-volt power supply installed at the main system-equipment rack. A single power supply can power up to one pair of LC265i speakers or two pairs of LC80i speakers via 16-gauge wire.