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Speaker Suppliers Make In-Room, On-Wall Statements For Q4

Speaker suppliers have introduced new cabinet speakers for the fall, many of them designed for on-wall use next to flat-panel TVs, while others are designed to make high-end statements for their brands.

Highlights include new on-wall speakers from Definitive Technology, Jamo and Phase Technology; the most esoteric in-room speakers ever built by Klipsch; the U.S. debut of Adam Audio; and new slim in-room speakers from Klipsch and Jamo.

Like Klispch, JL Audio is also making a high-end statement with its most expensive active subwoofer, at $11,000.

Digital signal processing is also appearing in more speakers, with NHT launching a 5.1-channel system with DSP to overcome inherent speaker-design challenges and JL Audio launching a powered subwoofer with digital room correction.

Here’s what these and other suppliers have shipped or plan to ship:

Adam Audio: The Berlin-based speaker company entered the U.S. residential market here, having shipped products to recording studios worldwide and offering residential speakers in Europe and Asia.

For its U.S. debut, the company’s U.S. subsidiary in Westlake Village, Calif., has unveiled its top-end Tensor series priced from $8,000 to $25,000 each and the Classic Series of slimmer speakers at $1,600 to $3,000 each. All models feature folded-ribbon tweeters.

Cabasse: The company rolled out its smallest spherical speakers to date as part of a complete 5.1 home theater speaker system that includes powered sub at a total $1,059. The Alcyone 4-inch-diameter full-range speaker balls deliver 350-watt peak power handling and 91dB sensitivity.

The spherical enclosure enhances rigidity, eliminates internal standing waves and diffraction effects, and delivers a wide image and wide sweet spot. They’re available in black or white with shelf-, wall- and standing-mounting capability.

Cabasse’s biggest spherical speakers are four-way models priced at $150,000 per pair.

Definitive Technology: The company expanded its on-wall selection in its Mythos series to four models with the launch of the top-of-the-line Mythos Ten LCR at a suggested $899 each.

The 34.5- by 6.06- by 4.38-inch speaker, sized to match 50-inch and larger flat-panel displays, can be mounted vertically for use as a left or right channel or horizontally as a center channel. It uses driver and enclosure designs from the company’s top-end Mythos ST SuperTowers.

Each extruded-aluminum enclosure contains two active 5.25-inch woofers pressure-coupled to two 6- by 10-inch racetrack-shaped planar passive radiators. The configuration produces a combined bass radiating surface greater than that of one 12-inch cone woofer, the company said. The woofers flank an 1-inch aluminum tweeter.

The speaker ships in October with choice of polished aluminum and gloss-black finishes.

Induction Dynamics: The company added to its top-end line with the launch of the ID1-18 four-way tower speaker with dual 18-inch subwoofers, dual 8-inch woofers, a 3-inch soft-dome tweeter and a 1.13-inch soft-dome tweeter with companion A2 600-watt subwoofer amplifier. The tower stands at 65.75 inches in height.

The tower is available at $14,390 per pair or $14,995 per pair, depending on finish. With two bundled external subs, the price goes to $15,390 per pair and $15,995 per pair.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based company is owned by MSE Audio Group, which also owns Phase Technology, Soundtube and SolidDrive.

Jamo: The Klipsch-owned company established lower opening prices in its Aesthetic series of designer speakers intended to complement flat-panel displays. The A400 models use extruded-polymer cabinets instead of the A70 series’ aluminum-alloy cabinets to bring prices down while maintaining an A70 look.

The five-SKU series consists of a narrow floorstander with tweeter and four mid/bass drivers, a satellite with tweeter and two mid/bass drivers, a wall-mountable coaxial satellite with 3-inch driver, a center channel and a powered sub. Prices were unavailable.

JL Audio: The statement piece for the Miramar, Fla., company is the $11,000 Gotham g213 powered subwoofer, currently available with 3,800-watt switching amp and two 13.5-inch drivers packed inside a 34.1- by 21.5- by 24-inch cabinet that’s more than 1.1-inch thick.

Features include back-lit master level knob, variable slope, variable frequency low-pass filter, variable phase control, polarity switch, an E.L.F. (extreme low-frequency) trim control and fully automatic room equalization system. The A.R.O. EQ system includes a microphone placed in the listening position for a fully automatic measurement and correction of the room’s low-frequency acoustics. The process takes about two minutes.

It weighs 360 pounds.

KEF: The company is filling the gap between its top-end Reference series and it iQ series with the launch here of the XQ series, which is priced from $1,400 per pair to $3,400 per pair for a L-R speaker. The Reference series L-R speakers, in contrast, range in price from $2,500 to $10,000 each.

The five-model XQ series, due in September, uses technology filtered down from the Reference series, including a new UniQ concentric-driver technology that uses an elliptical-dome tweeter inside a midrange driver with a flat surround to deliver for a wide sweet spot and wider, deeper soundstage.

The new series consists of a $1,400 per pair bookshelf with 5.25-inch woofer, a 6.5-inch bookshelf at $1,800 per pair, a 5.25-inch floorstander at $2,600 per pair, a $3,400 per pair floorstander with dual 6.5-inch woofers and a $1,200-each center channel with two 5.25-inch woofers.

Leon: The company’s latest on-wall speaker for flat-panel TVs is the Leon Seven, whose 11- by 38- by 6-inch cabinet is milled from billet aluminum and boasts 50Hz to 40kHz frequency response. Each cabinet incorporates two 7-inch woofers and ribbon tweeter. It ships in September at a suggested $17,000 per pair for a version with limited-edition solid-aluminum cabinet. Standard pricing will be announced at a later date.

Paradigm: The Reference Signature series gets three new models that are the most compact models in the series. One is the S1 two-way bookshelf with 1-inch tweeter and 6-inch woofers at $1,499 per pair in cherry or $1,699 per pair in piano black or natural birdseye maple. The C1 three-way four-driver center channel features two 5-inch woofers flanking a 3.5-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter at $1,199 in cherry and $1,299 in piano black or natural birdseye maple. The ADP1 five-driver, three-way surround speaker features forward-firing 7-inch woofer and, on each side, a 3.5-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter. It’s priced at $1,199 each in cherry and $1,299 in piano black and natural maple. They’re available.

Phase Technology: A pair of crescent-shaped on-wall and stand-mounted speakers delivers three front channels of sound. The Arte speakers, priced at $725 each, are intended for use with flat-panel displays and feature dual 5.25-inch woofers and a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. They come in black or metallic silver.

PSB: The HD8 and HD10 powered subs, said to be the company’s first ultra-compact subs, are 10.5-inch and 12-inch cubes, respectively, at a suggested $999 and $1,499. They use high-mass drivers and dual-opposed high-mass passive radiators to deliver bass down to 35Hz and 30Hz, respectively, with 500 and 750 continuous watts, respectively.

Thiel: The company’s most aggressively priced bookshelf speaker is the two-way SCS4 with coincident drivers at a suggested $990 each. Because of their narrow 17.5- by 8.5-inch enclosure and coincident drivers, they can be used as left-right speakers, center channels or surrounds, the company said.