Can 2012 Be a Big Year for Small Speakers?
Small-footprint speakers are becoming more popular in home audio after years of producing big and sometimes awkward-looking speakers.
Non-audiophiles have, for years, had lots of ammunition to criticize the audio industry when it came to loudspeakers.
But that may change in 2012 with the industry emphasizing elements such as industrial design and now the physical size of its floorstanding products. Leading manufacturers, including Meridian, PSB and Thiel Audio, have introduced small-footprint speakers that incorporate many of the companies’ respective proprietary technologies in form factors more conducive to the typical American living space.
Meridian’s new M6, introduced at CES 2012, is a $9,000-per-pair, digital active pair of speakers that electronics professionals can use in conjunction with other Meridian solutions, such as its Sooloos digital music products, to deliver a stylish and high-performing A/V system that doesn’t take up a large amount of floor space.
Using a more traditional passive approach, PSB introduced its T2 loudspeaker, which employs a complex enclosure design and PSB’s proprietary drivers. Adding to the affordable ($3,000 per pair) speaker’s attractiveness is the many color choices and finishes PSB offers to support the product.
Thiel’s soon-to-be-released CS1.7 speaker could be considered a replacement for its 1.6, but Thiel’s Gary Dayton explains that aside from its numbering, the CS1.7 speaker really has nothing to do with the previous model. Dayton expects the speaker to cost approximately $5,000 per pair, adding that it will likely be a 4-ohm product with a sensitivity rating around 90dB and a frequency response in the range of 50Hz to 21kHz.
One other speaker category to keep an eye on is the on-wall market and more slim-profile offerings like Monitor Audio, which showed its Shadow Series at CES. According to Dean Hartley, technical director for Monitor Audio, the company went to great lengths to engineer a driver that fit in a slim-profile enclosure while providing the necessary excursion to reproduce midrange and upper bass frequencies effectively.
The line includes three products: the small S25 and the larger S50 and S60 products. All are designed to complement the physical and visual qualities of today’s sleek flat-panel displays.
Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]
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