In-ceiling loudspeakers have come a long way from their humble, whole house music distribution beginnings. In a few short years in-ceiling loudspeakers have gone from being installed in kitchens, hallways and guest rooms to rear channels in a dedicated home theater to legitimate LCRs or left/center/right loudspeakers. Case in point: the Noble Fidelity L-65 LCRS reviewed here. Retailing for $299 each and sold through select dealers (if a dealer is not in your area please contact Noble Fidelity directly), the L-65 LCRS is the smallest of Noble's round, in-ceiling LCRS line which includes the L-85 LCRS that I reviewed earlier in the year.
• Read more in-wall speaker reviews from Home Theater Review's staff.
• Look for a subwoofer to pair with the L-65 LCRS in our Subwoofer Review section.
• Explore audiophile grade source components in our Source Component Review section.
Like the L-85 LCRS the L-65 LCRS employs a 15-degree rake or slope to its six and a half inch Kevlar fiber bass/midrange driver and one inch soft dome tweeter in order to "aim" its sound at the listener. It's because of this rake, as well as careful placement and installation, that allow for the L-65 LCRS to sound more like a traditional in-wall (i.e. wall mounted) or free standing loudspeaker than an in-ceiling one. Like I said, the L-65 LCRS is the smaller of the two in-ceiling LCRS loudspeakers Noble Fidelity offers, measuring 10 and three quarter inches round by five and an eighth inches deep. Each L-65 LCRS weighs four and a half pounds. The L-65 LCRS doesn't have an enclosed back box, which no doubt cuts down on costs as well as the L-65 LCRS's weight - instead it uses a Nylon top hat which keeps the back of the speaker free from dust and debris. The L-65 LCRS comes standard in white though its trim and metal grill can be painted to match any décor, a huge benefit most in-walls or in-ceiling loudspeakers have over their free standing counterparts.
The L-65 LCRS has a reported frequency response of 42Hz to 21kHz plus or minus three dB on axis. It boasts a sensitivity rating of 91dB with a nominal impedance of eight Ohms, making it ideal for all of today's modern home theater receivers, separates and beyond.
In terms of installation the L-65 LCRS are a pretty straightforward affair and can be installed by the DIY'er in you or by a trained professional, which is probably most likely, seeing as how they're sold through custom install channels. Though if you find yourself going it alone don't worry, for all you really need is a simple drywall saw, tape measure, Phillips head screwdriver and perhaps a buddy or two. To make things even easier on you, Noble Fidelity will work with you, via phone or email, prior to installation (provided you don't have a dealer in your area) to ensure the L-65 LCRS are mounted in precisely the right position in your room. I say precisely because in order for their "effect" to be believable they have to reside in your ceiling at a certain distance from your primary listening position. Too close and their sound appears to come from the ceiling, too far and it gets a bit vague, just right and you'll be hard pressed to tell them apart from traditional in-walls or even freestanding loudspeakers.
Speaking of sound, the L-65 LCRS are quite astonishing for they sound a lot fuller and richer than their pedigree and size would lead you to believe. Furthermore they share several sonic traits with another fine loudspeaker company, Bowers & Wilkins - they even have Bowers & Wilkins-esq yellow Kevlar drivers. The L-65 LCRS' bass is firm and deep and goes lower than I was expecting from an in-ceiling, six and a half inch driver, though a subwoofer is still required for full-range sound reproduction. The midrange is smooth, linear and grain free and the high frequencies are light and airy though a bit smooth around the edges and seem a bit polite at times. Being polite isn't a bad thing, for it makes the L-65 LCRS more suitable for a wide range of source material. Dynamically the L-65 LCRS are stunners and the soundstage they cast is vast with solid delineation throughout. Those looking for iron fisted grip and laser etched imaging aren't going to find it here though I argue you're not going to find it in your local cinema either. Read about the high points and low points of the L-65 loudspeakers on Page 2.