Leon Speakers Embraces Sonos with Elegant TV Mount for Playbar, Cabinets for PLAY
Leon Speakers, maker of customized speakers for any TV, launches ToneCase line of Sonos-friendly products, including TV mounting bracket with right-sized grille, and elegant cabinets for PLAY speakers.
Julie Jacobson · March 27, 2015
Leon Speakers, king of the custom-speaker business, is launching the ToneCase line of mounting and cabinet products for Sonos’s popular Playbar soundbar and PLAY speakers. There is nothing else on the market like these Sonos-friendly products.
First, the Playbar mounting system, Leon’s TcFIT.
Given the popularity of the Sonos soundbar, it’s a wonder that no one has really figured out an elegant way to mount the product to a TV. To be sure, there are brackets that accommodate a Playbar (with or without its proprietary mounting bracket), but for the most part, “It’s still a science project,” says one integrator in a RemoteCentral post entitled “Sonos Playbar Mount.”
Flexson, for example, has a cantilever mount with an attachment for a Playbar, but 1) you have to use Flexson’s own TV mount and 2) the product makes no allowance for the Sonos power cord … much like other quasi-solutions in the marketplace.
“They show you all of these beautiful pictures of the mount and the soundbar,” says Leon founder and CEO Noah Kaplan, “but wait, there’s no wires. They forget that even wireless products have plugs.”
Leon’s TcFIT includes a cage to conceal the Playbar power cord, creating an elegant look whether the TV is flush to the wall or articulated.
Other Playbar TV brackets, such as those from Sanus and SnapAV, work. But they were built for a wide variety of soundbars, not for Sonos specifically.
On the other hand, Leon engineered a complete system specifically for Playbar, with cable management, sturdy brackets and – the Leon trademark – custom grilles.
As it does for its own custom-made speakers, Leon creates a grille for the TcFIT that matches the precise width of the TV, ensuring a flush fit and an aesthetic design that blends the TV into the display.
Kaplan recognizes that many customers will balk at the price of the TcFIT—$595 (MSRP), or just shy of the $699 price tag of the Playbar itself. (Without the custom grille, the product retails for $395, but why would you want that?)
You think that’s a lot for a Sonos accessory?
Kaplan doesn’t: “Sonos has mass appeal in our industry and we believe our customers are willing to invest in a custom-design solution.”
He tells of one celebrity who had finally narrowed his choice for a soundbar to two finalists: Sonos and Leon.
Leon’s Horizon OTO soundbar retails for $3,000.
ToneCase Cabinets for PLAY
Also under the ToneCase brand comes a line of Hardwood Cabinets for Sonos PLAY speakers. This product line, however, comes from Leon subsidiary Media Décor, maker of “moving art” to conceal TVs and other unsightly products.
The cabinets make any Sonos speaker – PLAY:1, PLAY:3 and PLAY:5 – look like any traditional shelf speaker, encased in hardwood and finished with a standard black grille.
Dealers invited for a blind test assumed the ToneCase Wooden Cabinets for Sonos PLAY housed Leon Speakers instead. SEE IMAGES IN GALLERY BELOW.
The new ToneCase Tc1S, Tc3S and Tc5S are handcrafted from sold white oak or black walnut (custom finishes are available), and they’re designed to leave access for speaker controls and wire management.
But that’s not all.
The cabinets make Sonos speakers sound even better than if they’re left naked.
Here’s why: “Sonos takes really powerful speakers and puts them in an 8-inch cabinet,” Kaplan says. “The parts they’re using are very good. They give you maximum output, maximum power, in a very small cabinet.”
The compactness of the PLAY speakers could benefit from additional mechanical support.
Leon’s tight-fitting compressed-wood boxes stiffen the speaker chassis. The rear plane is made of metal, and the speakers lock to the metal. On top of that, Leon “loaded the cabinet” with acoustic materials.
Kaplan says he approached the project like, “I’m going to build a cabinet for a raw driver.”
The result: an especially stable cabinet for Sonos speakers.
The ToneCase Taste Test
Kaplan says Leon Speakers invited some dealers to its Ann Arbor office to test out the ToneCase product with Sonos inside.
“Without even listening to the speaker, they wanted it,” says Kaplan of the Leon-looking product.
Then dealers were asked to play Rhapsody tunes of every genre – from rap to pop to classical – and “everything they played sounded great,” according to Kaplan.
Finally, when Kaplan revealed what was hidden behind the grille, “They couldn’t believe it,” he says.
The ToneCase PLAY products retail for $249, $295 and $395 for the Tc1S (PLAY:1), Tc3S (PLAY:3) and Tc5S (PLAY:5), respectively.
The Tc1S and Tc3S are available with articulating wall-mount brackets (TcFMB). Exotic hardwoods and custom painted finishes are also available.
All ToneCase products are available (authorized dealers only) on April 6, 2015.
Evolution of Media Décor
When Leon acquired Media Décor 2013, it wasn’t just for the company’s TV-concealment products but to extend Leon’s mission as a company that “blends art with audio, design with technology.”
The new Sonos hardwood cabinets, then, fit nicely under the Media Décor brand.
“This is Media Décor,” Kaplan says. “This is where we want it to go. Take any technology and make it workable for customers’ homes.”
So … What should Media Décor hide next? Leave your suggestions in the “comments” section below.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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