In-Room Speakers Get Smaller, Thinner, Wireless

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Atlanta - Audio suppliers aren't forgetting their in-room roots here at the CEDIA Expo, where multiple companies are launching in-room speakers and electronic components for two-channel and home theater applications.

Many introductions are coming with an updated appeal, including thin speakers to match thin TVs and wireless speakers to eliminate messy speaker-cable runs. Other new speakers are smaller than ever to appeal to the decor-conscious.

Thin speakers are on the way from KEF and Artison. Phase Technology is showing wireless surround speakers and wireless subwoofers as well as small satellites.

And Atlantic Technology is demonstrating a bookshelf speaker that, at less than 16 inches tall, delivers bass down to 39Hz at -3dB, reducing the need for a larger speaker to deliver deep bass.

Here's what dealers are finding:


The company is replacing its three flat Portrait-series LCR speakers with new versions that are thinner, lighter and easier to attach to a flat-panel TV.

Like before, the speakers feature a patented Dual Mono design in which a left speaker and a right speak each feature a toed-in center-channel driver to deliver focused sound without a separate enclosure, said company founder Cary Christie. Also like before, they feature a front-stage-widening tweeter that fires out at a 45-degree angle from a curved panel toward the back of the cabinet.

Also like before, grilles are custom-made within 24-48 hours by Artison to match the height of a particular TV with screen size of 46 inches and up.

The updated $2,625/pair Masterpiece, $1,825/pair Portrait, and $1,175/pair Sketch feature cabinets whose depth has been reduced to 2.1 inches (with grille) from 4.2 inches for attachment to the thinnest 8mm LED-LCD TVs. The speakers weigh 60 percent less than their predecessors.

The speakers have also been redesigned to make it easier to mount curved grilles on the speaker cabinets after the cabinets have been attached to a TV.

To reduce cabinet depth, the company turned to an inverted-magnet woofer in which the magnet structure sits on the front inside of the cone.

At the top of the line, the Masterpiece features two 5.5-inch long-throw Kevlar midrange/woofer drivers, two curved-line arrays using 25mm aluminum full-range drivers, and a 25mm silk-dome tweeter.

Atlantic Technology:

The company is demonstrating a prototype bookshelf speaker incorporating Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System (H-PAS) bass technology, which delivers targeted bass performance with 50 percent smaller cabinets, smaller drivers and lower costs, the company said.

 It will join an existing H-PAS floor-standing model.

The prototype AT-2 is only 8.75 inches wide by 15 5/8 inches high by 12.25 inches deep, yet with an interior acoustic volume of less than 2/3 cubic foot, it delivers bass response down to 39Hz at -3dB, the company said.

"H-PAS allows exceptionally deep bass response with very low distortion relative to speaker size," the company said. "The H-PAS-enabled low frequency reproduction is notable for its power, clarity and impact, with none of the often muddy, indistinct mid- and lower-bass anomalies that characterize many other designs. 

The bookshelf speaker features  single 5 1/4-inch long-excursion woofer and the same 1 1/8-inch Low Resonance Tweeter used in the AT-1. Its crossover frequency of 2,100 Hz is much lower than most conventional two-way speakers to deliver much wider horizontal midrange dispersion.

Atlantic Technology expects to begin production early in 2011 and plans to license out the technology.

H-PAS was designed to break what the company calls "the iron law of loudspeaker design," which among other things, states that among three major goals of speaker design -- deep bass extension, a compact enclosure and good efficiency -- speaker designers must choose two at the expense of the third.

H-PAS combines elements of bass reflex, inverse horn and transmission-line speaker technologies to pressurize and accelerate low frequencies, the company explained.


The brand's thin T series speakers are promoted as among the world's thinnest with a depth of only 1.38 inches.


Two new two-channel components are the $299-suggested C427 AM/FM tuner and $799 C356BEE integrated amp.

The integrated amp brings NAD's Modular Design Construction (MDC) expandability to NAD's Classic series, enabling users to add a modular phono-stage module and other planned upgrade modules. The amp is rated at 2x80 watts into 4 ohms and features a front-panel 3.5mm mini-jack input.

The RDS-equipped tuner features 30 total presets, nameable presets for non-AM and non-RDS FM stations, RS-232 interface, and IR input.

Phase Technology:

A wireless on-wall surround speaker, CineMicro 5.1 speaker package, and three wireless subwoofers will make an appearance.

The wireless subs and surround speaker are the brand's first wireless speakers.

 The PC SUB WL series of wireless subwoofers come in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch models at $1,185, $1,538 and $1,775 each respectively. They feature built-in a 2.4GHz frequency-hopping receiver that gets audio in uncompressed digital format from a transmitters that plugs into the subwoofer output of a sound system. The subs feature downward-firing active driver and front-firing passive radiator in a curved cabinet.

They're available.

The wireless on-wall surround speaker at a suggested $1,530/pair is the two-way Teatro WL-SURR, a switchable dipole/bipole model in black or white 4.5-inch-deep cabinet. The cabinet incorporates 100-watt amp and active digital crossovers for biamplification. The 2.4GHz frequency-hopping technology delivers audio in uncompressed form with quality said to be "indistinguishable from a wired system."

The companion transmitter features a left-surround and right-surround input as well as a subwoofer input for use with the company's wireless subs. Two transmitters can be used to drive four surround speakers.

Also new is the CineMicro 5.1 package at $938, with extra satellites available at $163 each. The package consists of four 6.5 by 5 by 4.5-inch satellites, a horizontal center channel and an 8-inch long-throw subwoofer. The center channel and satellites are wall-mountable, handle 100 watts each and have high-gloss-black piano finishes.

Phase will also unveil new 3-inch speakers for bringing music to kitchen backsplashes, stairs, patio areas or the home office. They are the $200 SPF-15 surface-mount speaker, $260 CI1.5 in-ceiling, and $260 CI15 in-wall, all with full-range 3-inch driver.

The SPF-15

surface-mount features a mounting system rotates 0 to 90 degrees to lock into a wall plate that swivels 173 degrees in both directions. No tools are needed to lock the speaker, which is available in black or white and is paintable.  A 70-volt transformer option is available.

The CI 1.5

round ceiling comes with shallow 3.75-inch backcan, fixed-wing installation, and a paintable black or white grille. Components are weatherized for durability in indoor or outdoor uses. A 70-100-volt transformer is included.

The CI 15

square in-wall speaker also offers rapid fixed-wing installation and a square paintable grille in black or white.  An optional theft-resistant stainless grille is available, and a 70-100-volt transformer is included.

They'll join an updated CI-MM3-II

3-inch in-wall Spacia speaker, which fits in a standard double-gang box or mud ring for quick installs kitchens, foyers, bathrooms and hallways. A snap-on paintable grille is included.


The speaker brand is shipping the new $899-suggested SubSeries 300 powered subwoofer, which represents the brand's first collaboration with sister brand NAD, which developed the sub's amp and power supply.

The Class D amp delivers 300 watts of continuous power with less than 0.08 percent THD and 850 watts of peak dynamic power. The PSB's proprietary smart bass technology delivers clean bass even when the sub is overdriven, the company said. A 12-inch driver features 2-inch voice coil and 50-ounce magnet. It incorporates a 3-inch-diameter down-firing port.


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