When you think of Pioneer, undoubtedly the first thing you think of is flat-panel TVs. Next, A/V receivers and Blu-ray players might come to mind. Probably the last thing you'd think of would be in-wall speakers. Me too, and I'd wager that most home theater enthusiasts don't even know the company makes them. For that and other reasons, I was curious about the top of the line Elite EX Series in-wall and in-ceiling speakers that Pioneer used in a demo room at CEDIA 2009. (Pioneer also offers a passel of other products including headphones, DJ gear, DVD players, car audio and more.)
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I admit I went in thinking that Pioneer in-wall speakers were sort of an afterthought in the company's lineup, to be offered, say, as part of an add-on sale to a plasma monitor purchase. I was wrong. The top of the line Elite ES Series incorporates some serious engineering, including what Pioneer calls CST (Coherent Source Transducer) technology, where the tweeter is concentrically mounted flush at the base of the bass/midrange driver cone, to maintain sonic coherence and function as a single point source. The idea of a point source is nothing new--many speaker designers feel that such a configuration offers superior imaging. However, Pioneer claims that the EX Series' design offers superior directivity characteristics and off-axis response compared to typical coaxial drivers, where the tweeter protrudes from the center of the woofer.
EX Series speakers (available in five in-wall and in-ceiling LCR and angled-driver configurations, along with a powered subwoofer), all employ a 1-3/16-inch graphite tweeter, a 5-1/2-inch magnesium-cone midrange driver, and either a 7-1/16-inch or 6-1/2-inch aramid (synthetic fiber)/carbon-composite-cone woofer. The speakers also feature a treble contour control to tailor the high-frequency response. Depending on the model, frequency response ranges from either 26 or 28Hz to 100kHz (did I read that right? Yes--that's the most extended high-frequency response speaker spec I've ever seen). Nominal impedance is 6 ohms and efficiency is 87dB for all models.Click to Page 2 for The High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion.