In-wall speakers are nothing new, with nearly every speaker manufacturer offering a line or two of in-wall products. However, not many (if any) of them are wireless and feature Internet connectivity. Well, that's the case with the Polk Audio LC265i-IP speakers, the worlds' first active Internet Protocol-ready in-wall loudspeakers. What does all this mean? For starters, the LC265i-IP uses integrated digital amplifiers, negating the need for outboard amplification and speaker cables. The LC265i-IP also features built-in DSP or digital signal processing, with room correction that allows the user to essentially tune each LC265i-IP to the environment at the speaker, rather than at the processor or receiver, which is more standard. This is all accomplished through a USB connection to your computer or laptop via a port on the front baffle of the LC265i-IP itself. Sounds pretty good, and it should. However, there is a lot of fine print. Are the LC265i-IPs, at $2,900 per pair, worth it? You be the judge.
• Read dozens more in-wall speaker reviews from the likes of Niles, Sonance, Speakercraft, Paradigm, B&W, Meridian, Wisdom Audio and many others.
Aside from the technical wizardry, the LC265i-IP is more or less a traditional two-and-a-half-way in-wall speaker. The LC265i-IP features a one-inch tweeter sandwiched between a single six-and-a-half-inch midrange driver and a six-and-a-half-inch bass (Polk calls it a subwoofer) driver. The LC265i-IP has a reported frequency response of 20Hz-27kHz. Since the LC265i-IP is powered, there is no sensitivity rating or ohm listing. However, the internal digital amps churn out a total of 200 watts, which are broken down between the individual drivers: 100 watts for the woofer, 75 watts to the midrange and 25 watts to the tweeter. The LC265i-IP's internal amplifier is powered by a 48-volt DC local power supply, which sadly is not included with the product.
The LC265i-IP is designed to integrate into a StreamNet IP-based whole home automation system, but it can also be connected to a traditional analog-based system. The beauty of being able to integrate the LC265i-IP into a more traditional home automation system is two-fold; it opens up the LC265i-IP to older systems or smart homes and doesn't eliminate the LC265i-IP's onboard DSP, which is accessed through a front-mounted USB port next to the LC265i-IP's tweeter.
Read about the high points and the low points of the LC265i-IP on Page 2.
• Beyond the technical data and "world's first" titles, the LC265i-IP sounds damn good and demonstrates that Polk, despite the technology, maintained a proper focus on musicality and natural sound reproduction.