Fineline Speakers LCR-21 Ultra-Thin On-Wall Loudspeakers Reviewed

Fineline Speakers LCR-21 Ultra-Thin On-Wall Loudspeakers Reviewed

Andrew Robinson takes a look at FineLine Speakers' LCR-21 on-wall speaker, which he was rather impressed with. Read the review to find out the results of Andrew's test drive with the LCR-21.

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I like ribbon anything when it comes to loudspeakers so imagine my surprise when I discovered the LCR-21 from Fineline Speakers employs a ribbon tweeter in their top of the line on-wall. Retailing for $395 each the LCR-21 is nothing if not a bargain on paper - no doubt a result of Fineline's Internet direct business model, which along with a low retail price, offers a standard 30-day money-back guarantee with every Fineline product. Oh, and they're made right here in the United States.

Additional Resources
• Read more on-wall speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find a thin HDTV in our LED HDTV and Plasma HDTV review sections.
• Buy the LCR-21 on FineLine's website.

The LCR-21 is the largest of Fineline's on-wall speaker offerings, measuring a little over 18 inches tall by six and three quarter inches wide and an inch and three quarters deep. The LCR-21s tip the scales at a scant seven pounds apiece and are available in either white or black finishes, which are basically white or black colored tops with coordinating speaker grill fabric stretched around. The LCR-21s are an on-wall design and as such come standard with all the necessary hardware to facilitate wall mounting. Fineline recommends mounting the LCR-21s on either side of as well as below your HDTV, and thanks to their supermodel thinness the LCR-21s don't look out of place beside some of today's thinner LED based HDTVs.

Inside, or behind the non-removable grill cloth, rests a ribbon tweeter sandwiched between two four-inch mid/bass drivers giving the LCR-21 a reported frequency response of 80-20,000 Hz, so adding a subwoofer is going to be a must for true, full-range sound. The LCR-21 has a sensitivity rating of 91dB into a six Ohm load making it an ideal candidate for home theater receivers and mid-level separate systems.

I recently reviewed Fineline's other products: the LCR-11 on-wall and FC-3 soundbar, and while they each had their strengths they also had some pretty noticeable drawbacks. Well, the LCR-21 is far and away the best loudspeaker in Fineline's current lineup and while it suffers from a lack of bass, it's midrange is far more fleshed out and its high frequency performance is superior in every way and even bests on-walls costing twice as much. Thanks to its ribbon tweeter the LCR-21's air, extension, attack, decay and detail is much improved over the LCR-11, which sounds a bit brittle in comparison. Because the LCR-21 utilizes dual mid/bass drivers, its midrange has more weight and focus to it, allowing vocals to have better presence - something you need for both music and movies. The dual drivers also help make it easier to blend a subwoofer with the LCR-21 without having to resort to complex or invasive EQ programs (like with the LCR-11 or FC-3 soundbar). Also, the LCR-21 can be used in larger rooms, though I wouldn't go too crazy for there is only so much air a compact loudspeaker like the LCR-21 can be expected to move. Sadly, Fineline's atrocious binding posts, or lack thereof, also made the trip upstream from the LCR-11 and FC-3 and are found on the LCR-21.

Read about the high points and the low points of the LCR-21 on Page 2.

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High Points
• The LCR-21, like all Fineline Speakers, comes with a 30-day in-home money-back guarantee, always a good thing when trying your luck on a new loudspeaker not sold in stores.
• The LCR-21 comes standard with all the necessary hardware to facilitate wall-mounting right out of the box.
• While the LCR-21 may share the same fit and finish as the LCR-11 and FC-3 soundbar, it doesn't share the same sound, which has improved ten-fold thanks to the addition of another mid/bass driver and a rather smooth ribbon tweeter.
• Thanks to its thin cabinet design the LCR-21 looks good mounted next to uber thin LED-based HDTVs.

Low Points
• The LCR-21's binding posts are inexcusable and make it impossible to use any sort of cable other than bulk, bare wire which isn't going to go over well with audiophiles or home theater enthusiasts alike.
• You must pair the LCR-21 with a subwoofer or two in order to achieve full-range sound reproduction which does drive the total cost of ownership up a bit, however it's not a problem exclusive to the LCR-21.

Competition and Comparisons
At $395 each or $790 a pair the LCR-21's are affordable but by no means the least expensive option out there. At or around the LCR-21's asking price there are a few notable competitors in Definitive Techonology's Mythos 7, Paradigm's Cinema 330, and even Magnepan's MMGW planar loudspeaker, each cost roughly the same and bring their own unique sonic characteristics to the table; that are in line with the LCR-21 or in some cases completely different.

In any case let your ears, tastes and budget be your guide in determining which on-wall loudspeaker is right for you. If you want further guidance check out Home Theater Review's On-Wall Speaker page.

Conclusion
While I wasn't completely bowled over by Fineline's other products they had merit - they just weren't necessarily my cup of tea. Well, the LCR-21 is much more my kind of speaker and while it isn't perfect (what loudspeaker is?) it's hands down the best loudspeaker newcomer Fineline Speakers makes. While I feel it faces some stiff competition at its asking price, it's definitely worth a listen.

Additional Resources
• Read more on-wall speaker reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Find a thin HDTV in our LED HDTV and Plasma HDTV review sections.
• Buy the LCR-21 on FineLine's website.

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