Compactness almost always comes with compromises. I love theSmart Car, for example, especially for its ability to park perpendicularly in a parallel parking spot, but let’s face it: the Smart isn’t exactly a luxury automobile, nor a high-performance one at that.
The reason I mention this is because when I walked into Dana Innovations’ booth at this year’s CEDIA Expo and saw the new Sonance “Discreet Opening System” Architectural Series speakers, I dug the concept: a tiny four-inch flush-mount round or square grille designed to match the look of trim-less downlights, housing surprisingly powerful little speakers meant to be seen and never heard. What’s not to love about that?
What I didn’t expect, though, was for them to sound absolutely incredible. After all, there’s only so much sound you can squeeze through a four-inch hole, right? Or so I thought. That was before I stepped around the corner and heard Sonance’s demo of the system, which even on the noisy CEDIA show floor sounded spectacular.
Some of that is certainly attributable to the design of the speakers themselves, which feature ceramic dome tweeters and high-excursion carbon-fiber and Rohacell laminated woofers. Some of it also comes from the fact that Sonance has managed to pack a subwoofer into the exact same four-inch opening, by way of a beefy box that hides away in the attic and ports out to the ceiling via a flexible tube, not entirely unlike the exhaust hose for your clothes dryer (although certainly made of much sturdier stuff). The combined effect of the BPS6 Bandpass Subwoofer plus four of the AS38RS two-way satellitesspeakers is kinda magical—so much so that it draws one’s attention to the itty bitty little grilles at first. And yes, I realize that’s sort of contrary to the point, but the feeling passes pretty quickly, and soon enough you’re enjoying a really rich musical experience that almost seems to come out of nowhere.
If you have higher ceilings (or just need a little extra volume), Sonance is also offering the AS68RS Architectural Series Medium speakers, which boast the same aesthetic, but with a slightly larger 6.5-inch two-way speaker.
That same packing-more-speaker-into-less-space trend carried through with Sonance’s new lineup of Landscape Speakers, as well. In many ways, as you can see below, the 2015 lineup doesn’t look like a radical departure from the 2014 lineup. Everything is just a bit (or in some cases a lot) more compact. In shrinking the speakers, though, Sonance hasn’t lost an ounce of output. The design goal of the new outdoor speakers, I was told, was “smaller, easier to install, more bang for the buck.”
As I was making my way out of the Dana Innovations booth, one last innovation caught my eye: the new LaunchPort iPad Cases from iPort. What could possibly be innovating about an iPad case? Buttons. Beautiful, tactile, programmable hard buttons.
iPort has teamed up with Lutron to integrate the latter’s ClearConnect technology into the new cases, and effectively added a Pico wireless remote to the edge of the iPad. The buttons can be easily configured to operate Lutron HomeWorks, RadioRA 2, Grafik EYE, and Caséta Wireless lighting control systems, and since Lutron drivers exist for a number of home automation systems, the buttons can also be configured to perform specific functions in your Control4, Savant, or other control systems as well.
If you’re controlling your home with an iPad, this is just a no-brainer. Yes, touchscreen interfaces are a truly wonderful thing. But sometimes, if you merely want to tweak an individual light or raise a shade independent of a pre-programmed scene, it’s way easier to simply poke a button.
Content courtesy of: Dennis Burger, Editor in Chief, HDLiving.com