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Technology Showcase: Ceiling Loudspeakers

Dec 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

New features offer better control over positioning and environmental challenges.

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Bose FreeSpace DS 100F

Bose FreeSpace DS 100F

The trend toward wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted loudspeakers has accelerated, and manufacturers have stepped up in response with advanced features including swiveling tweeters, tone adjustments, and stereo inputs. Some degree of tonal and directional control is a natural advance for ceiling loudspeakers since they are almost always mounted in places that are not ideal. They have to be mounted to accommodate ceiling joists, lighting fixtures, AC wiring, and other obstructions that often compromise their exact positioning. Heat and humidity in an attic or crawl space also threaten their survival, and sometimes special baffles are necessary to prevent sound in one room's loudspeakers from acoustically leaking into another room through a shared attic. With the challenges of location and environment in mind, let's have a look at what's available in the very competitive market of ceiling loudspeakers.

Designed to provide higher-than-average power and fidelity than has been traditionally associated with ceiling loudspeakers, the Formula FH6-C from Bic America uses six 1/2in. injection-molded woofers with high-power magnets to put out sound levels up to 116dB. With a sensitivity of 96dB, the unit employs a 1 1/2in., pivoting, mid/high-frequency horn with a neodymium magnet to round out the frequency response at 40Hz to 23kHz. The nominal impedance is 8Ω, and the power-handling range is from 10W to 150W. The connection terminals are gold-plated and each pair of FH6-C loudspeakers includes one pair of cloth décor grilles and a pair of paintable metal grilles. Mounting tabs aid installation.

The Bogen HFSF1 is a 7 1/4in. small-footprint ceiling loudspeaker for 70V or low-impedance ceiling systems. The unit includes selectable power taps for 16W, 8W, 4W, 2W, and 1W at 70V as well as 16Ω setting with the same front-mounted rotary dial under the grille. A quick-connecting terminal is removable for working in tight places above ceilings, and integral mounting clamps ensure a solid fit. The low-frequency driver is a 4in. polypropylene cone with a rubber surround, and the high-frequency driver is a 3/4in. polycarbonate dome providing a sensitivity of 86dB SPL and a frequency response of 78Hz to 20kHz. Maximum power input at 16Ω is 50W, and at 70V, the maximum power is 16W.

The surface-mount FreeSpace DS 100SF from Bose includes two Twiddler drivers and a proprietary articulated array can be easily rotated to maintain a 180-degree dispersion pattern. The power-tap settings for 70V and 100V systems are very easy to make with a thumbwheel either before or after installation. The unit provides a frequency response of 65Hz to 16kHz ±3dB, a sensitivity of 85dB, and long-term power-handling capacity of 100W.

Brand-new from Boston Acoustics (shipping in January) is the VSi580 with an 8in. DCD woofer in a cast basket and a pivoting 1in. aluminum VR tweeter in a cast-aluminum cup. For enhanced sound dispersion, it also features a cast-aluminum bezel, a floating tweeter island, and a dedicated boundary compensation switch. The reduced bezel and newly designed magnetic grille attachment are standard on all of the new ceiling loudspeaker models from Boston Acoustics.

For high power and maximum coverage in a ceiling loudspeaker, the Cloud 1299T from Community Professional Loudspeakers offers a two-way coaxial solution with a single-cast frame, a 12in. low-frequency driver, and a 1in. high-frequency compression driver that together provide 117dB SPL when tapped for 200W. The overall frequency response is 80Hz to 13kHz ±4dB, and the sensitivity is 94dB SPL. The unit also has built-in protection circuitry and selectable midband attenuation, and it may be used with 70V and 100V systems.

The DC365 from Dual Electronics features a treble volume control, two-way passive crossover, 1in. titanium-dome rotating directional tweeter, a power-handling capacity of 120W RMS and 180W peak, 8Ω nominal impedance, 92dB sensitivity, and a frequency response of 45Hz to 20kHz. Included are gold-plated loudspeaker-wiring binding posts, a paintable loudspeaker grille and frame, and tweeter-overload protection circuitry. The tweeter can be pivoted as much as 20 degrees off axis. The unit is covered by a limited two-year warranty.

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