Which Speaker Speaks To You? December 09 2019

 

Although there are many speakers on the market today, there are really only two main types – there’s the more traditional kind that we’re all familiar with, a box housing that contains a couple of drivers (usually a woofer and tweeter). And then there are custom install speakers which, as their name suggests, are designed to blend seamlessly into your home or office background. So, which type is right for you and your environment? And, when you’ve narrowed that down, which model will give you what you’re looking for? It can be very confusing and, as with many purchases, you have to be quite honest about your needs, expectations and crucially, your budget, in order to make a decision.

At Soundline, our job is to make things easy for you, so in this article, we give you the low-down on both traditional and custom install speakers, weighing up the different options, teasing out the pros and cons of each, and making some considered recommendations for you to consider.

TRADITIONAL SPEAKERS

These are what usually come to mind when someone talks about speakers. What sets them apart from custom install speakers is the cabinet or box, which makes a huge difference to the sound quality. Traditional speakers can be placed on a bookshelf/stand-mount, or they can be floor-standing. Let’s look at both.

Bookshelf/Stand-mount

Pros

  • Better sound quality than in-wall or in-ceiling speakers
  • Compact form factor, therefore ideal for small rooms
  • Budget friendly – generally cheaper than floor-standing models
  • Easier to drive – don’t need as powerful an amplifier

Cons

  • Fewer drivers – usually one driver does all frequencies – therefore less articulate sound-wise
  • Better sound quality from stand-mounted models, but purchasing a stand will increase price almost to floor-standing speaker range

Ideal for

  • Use in a smaller room, or near-field listening. The addition of a subwoofer and crossover will improve results considerably

Top Picks

  • Monitor Audio Silver 50 - $1200 a pair – Small and stylish, but packing a bigger sound than the compact form factor lets on
  • Sonus Faber Sonetto I - $3000 a pair – a premium finish on a speaker which sounds as beautiful as it looks
  • TAD Micro Evolution One - $21,200 (with stands) – The ultimate stand-mount speaker – unrivalled performance and clarity – must be heard to be believed

Floor-standing

Pros

  • More drivers move more air, which is a good thing. As the saying goes “there’s no replacement for displacement”
  • Better frequency response – more sound detail

Cons

  • Needs more space around it to sound its best
  • Placement in room can affect sound quality
  • Generally requires more power to drive

Ideal for

  • Music and movie lovers with ample space and power. Best music reproduction available

Top Picks

 

CUSTOM INSTALL SPEAKERS

These speakers require more preparation work to install: wires need to be run to where the speakers will eventually be, holes need to be cut in walls, and grilles need to be painted.

In-Ceiling

Pros

  • Aesthetics: low profile – low visual impact on room
  • No clutter
  • Good in multi-room applications – they rule out dead spots and hot spots and offer even sound coverage

Cons

  • Sound quality – not for audiophiles or high-fidelity sound enthusiasts – results in reduced imaging, sound-staging, frequency response
  • Need to plan ahead for wiring purposes
  • Potential noise bleed to adjacent rooms (back boxes can reduce this)

Ideal for

Non-audiophile people for whom aesthetics are more important than sound quality, who want sound pumped through their homes, simple home theatre, no clutter

Our top picks

In Wall

Pros

  • Don’t take up floor space – so no clutter
  • Better than in-ceiling for sound quality, as they sit on the same plane as the listener
  • Better driver arrangement – better imaging and sound-staging

Cons

  • More noticeable than in-ceiling – in full view
  • Take up space that could be used for art etc
  • Again, need to plan ahead for wiring purposes
  • Potential noise bleed to adjacent rooms (back boxes can reduce this)

Ideal for

  • Low profile AV application where space is a premium – home theatre or AV room
  • Where in-ceiling speakers won’t work due to lack of space in ceiling cavity
  • An environment that requires better sound than in-ceiling, but where space is still at a premium

Top picks

  • Monitor Audio WSS430 - $700 each – High quality sound in a super-slim package
  • Sonus Faber Palladio PC-563P - $1900 each – High quality sound with all the attractive Sonus Faber flair expected from the Italian speaker manufacturer. (Coming soon, contact us about availability).

So there we are then – something for everyone – with nods to space, aesthetics and budget. We hope this helps you make a decision, but if not – or if you’d like to chat about the options further, or hear them for yourself, come and see us at one of our three showrooms across the country. We’d love to meet you and talk more. It’s our passion and it’s what we do!