In-wall speakers are supposed to be heard not seen, yet far too often, when you actually look at an installed in-wall speaker, whether it's in the ceiling or in a side wall, they are just plain ugly. Yes, you can paint the grilles, but in order for an in-wall to sound good, it needs to have more perforations on the grilles than actual metal to paint. Therefore, a painted grille doesn't really look like the actual wall. It's always clear that there is a speaker installed. That is, until the Sonance Architectural series came along.
The Sonance Architectural Series Z8F is only one of many speaker options in the Architectural line, which also has smaller driver speakers, round speakers and other application specific products. The Z8F comes with a finished front speaker, which can be hidden by a cloth grille or a more traditional metal grille. The driver complement includes an eight-inch woofer, a four-inch midrange and a one-inch tweeter mounted along with the mid. The mids and the tweeter can be pivoted to help improve imaging in the installation. The speakers are very efficient at 91 dB and can be run by the second zone of an AV receiver, as well as any modest home automation or distributed audio system.
The Sonance sound is clean and dynamic. The highs are smooth and soft, with no etching or glare. The bass that comes from these speakers might surprise some who haven't heard top-performing in-wall speakers in a while. The enclosure gets you down pretty low in terms of bass, but to get a full-frequency sound, you need a subwoofer, which can also be in-wall if you like, but the best performers are still floor-standing subs - if your design can handle it.
Read the High Points, Low Points and Conclusion on Page 2
• There is no baffle, so the speaker looks better installed than any other in-wall you will find. Other speaker companies are rushing to rip this design off, which Sonance should take as a big compliment.
• The grilles are the best in the business and represent an innovative new look at an AV category that was for years nothing more than a commodity.
• In-walls are in-walls, so you can't expect the Sonance Z8F to sound like a pair of Wilson WATT Puppies parked in the middle of your living room.
• Other than for casual listening or auxiliary rooms, you really could use a subwoofer, which can be a little tricky to integrate seamlessly with in-wall speakers. It's not impossible - it just can take some careful calibration.
This is one of the most innovative ideas to his in-wall loudspeakers in years. The level of design that goes into a modern architectural home is monumental and, more so than in a traditional design, every detail matters. When one element is off in a room, the entire room can look out of sorts. Sonance has created a series of in-wall speakers that solve this problem and sound pretty damn good at the same time. Check them out if you are in the market for in-wall speakers at any price point.