Hindsight is 20/20 they say. And knowing what I know today, I would have used all invisible speakers in my house renovation project back in 2013. I used one pair of invisible speakers from Sonance as somewhat of an experiment in my dining room, where my drywall subcontractor smoothed over the "invisible" speakers, leaving sound but no visible trace of said transducers. The result was fantastic on so many levels. First off, there is the ultimate wife acceptance factor. There is really not much missing in terms of volume, even if you want to push them with some serious AC/DC. They are almost impossible to blow up because of protection circuits internally, and they look like--well... nothing. Needless to say, I am a fan of the invisible speaker concept.
Enter Nakymatone into this new market niche. A relatively new player to the specialty audio-video world, Nakymatone (Finnish for "invisible" but an awkward name for a high-end AV company) are true specialists who at this point make one thing and one thing well: invisible, high end in-wall and/or in-ceiling speakers. I like that level of focus.
The product for review is also a tough one to pronounce: the Nakymatone Echt ($3,000 per pair). Designed to be installed in the stud bays of your walls or ceiling, the Echt speakers are not traditional transducers in that they don't have say a 6- or 8-inch driver and tweeter. They're more like the sounding board of an instrument, in that they vibrate in ways designed to make excellent sound while hiding behind some form of covering. I can feel audiophiles cringing already. Don't. They sound better than you might expect. Far better.
Reviews of in-wall speakers are, generally speaking, a nightmare. Not all reviewers own their homes and even when they do it can be tricky, expensive, messy and time consuming to start punching holes in one's walls and/or ceilings. In my case, I had a different problem--my house is currently for sale. It also already comes with a $200,000-plus smart home entertainment system, complete with an 85-inch 4K HDTV, a $25,000 4K Crestron video distribution system, outdoor 65-inch 4K TVs, speakers in every room, an 8.2 surround system for the pool, a 4K TV for the cabana, and so much more. Simply put, adding another pair of $3,000 speakers just seemed wasteful.
What I did was have my good friend, Tim Duffy, a dealer for Nakymatone at Simply Home Entertainment, install them in his newly renovated home here in West Los Angeles' booming "Silicon Beach" area. His modern design stylings and high end distributed audio system would be a perfect environment for these speakers to live a long and happy life installed behind the skim coat of his drywall.
The installation of Nakymatone speakers is similar to other in-wall or in-ceiling speakers, in that they need to be secured nicely inside your studs, which can be done easily with the associated and included hardware. The package includes various sized spacers that allow you to set the depth of the speakers in your stud-bay to exact levels. In reality, I can't imagine any consumer would install these transducers themselves, but I guess they could if they had a drywall saw, a powered screwdriver, and working knowledge of how to smooth over some skim coat paired with a lot of ambition.
These bright blue speakers are very well built, especially in contrast with many of the throwaway and/or consumer grade in-wall speakers clogging the market. They have a very solid feel, perhaps more so because they don't have a traditional driver that moves around.
One key thing that you or your installer needs to make damned-well sure that the speaker leads are installed correctly, as it's pretty hard to get access to these speakers once they are "mudded over" by you or more likely your drywall guy. I know of a disaster story that involves a switch being set incorrectly on about sixteen pairs of another brand's invisible speakers, but thankfully the Nakymatones have no such switch to set, so that isn't a concern.
Even if you install the Echt speakers yourself, I recommend that you have a professional "mud over" the speakers. Smoothing and sanding drywall is a messy project best left for the professionals. Yes, bringing in another "trade" is an additional cost, but it's cheaper than a divorce. Allow the drywall skim coat to dry, have it sanded, and ultimately you likely want to paint your entire ceiling or wall. Once done, you areready to rock and roll even if it doesn't look like it. Mainly, it doesn't look like it because once your Nakymatone Echt's are installed, mudded, and painted, they don't look like anything. They are literally invisible.
Now, by all means, you can get more creative with the coverings. Wallpaper is in play if that's a look that you like. Leather has been successfully used in truly out-of-the-box installations. Wood veneers have been used on walls or directly built into cabinetry and/or furniture. This is a speaker-transducer that allows for a whole new level of creativity in terms of applications and installations.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...