Controlled Performance In-Wall (CP-IW460X) Loudspeaker
Modern living environments and contemporary décor trends generally don’t embrace traditional audio/video systems with large speaker enclosures. Just flip through one of the latest home décor magazines and traditional loudspeaker boxes are nowhere to be found. Rather, today’s interior designs call for small lifestyle setups, Bluetooth speakers or perhaps a svelte soundbar. Audio performance is compromised as such lifestyle oriented setups just don’t perform like high-end tower or bookshelf loudspeakers. Catering to this trend, many high-end audio product manufacturers have introduced high performance on-wall / in-wall speakers; speakers to be heard, not seen. UK based Monitor Audio is one of these companies and their Controlled Performance CP-IW460X inwall speaker aims to provide stealth without sonic compromise.
DESIGN & FEATURES
The CP-IW460X in-wall speaker is compact considering that it is a full threeway, five-driver loudspeaker. Its sealed-box construction allows it to deliver optimal performance in virtually any in-wall application, when installed properly. The highest quality components, materials and construction are used to ensure maximum performance. First, the CP-IW460X uses Monitor Audio’s latest speaker driver innovations – proprietary C-CAM (Ceramic-Coated Aluminium Magnesium) cones with ‘dimpled’ Rigid Surface Technology (2 x 6.5’ and 2 x 4’) as well as a single C-CAM Ribbon High Frequency transducer. These drivers have the capability of delivering high-output with great speed and minimal distortion. Second, a high-quality three- way crossover is incorporated, with adjustable high, medium and low frequency (boundary) controls, allowing seamless driver integration and tailoring of speaker sound for room acoustics and personal taste. Finally, the enclosure is a cast polymer cabinet with die-cast aluminium baffle, which has exceptional rigidity and thus, limits vibrational distortion. With a frequency response of 50 to 60,000 Hz, the CP-IW460X covers most of the audible spectrum. Monitor Audio has aimed high with the CP-IW460X; it is designed to emulate the performance characteristics of Monitor Audio’s own Gold range of loudspeakers.
For this review, I had two CP-IWX460 loudspeakers professionally installed in my room. Installed 8 feet apart on the front wall, and 13 feet away from my listening seat, they were wired up with Tributaries SP812UL
12-guage long crystal copper speaker cables. The CP-IW460X’s come with magnetic paintable speaker grills that fit like a glove to conceal the drivers.
When I began my evaluation, the first thing that caught my attention was these speakers’ impressive clarity and high frequency definition. The ribbon tweeter in the CP-IW460X is truly a high-end transducer, revealing minute inflections and fine detail in a most refined manner. This amazing tweeter is also very well integrated with the flanking twin midrange drivers, calling no undue attention to itself. I found the mid-tohigh frequency response to be reminiscent of the Monitor Audio Gold 300 loudspeaker that I reviewed in 2015. In that review I stated that “the treble possessed plentiful detail and was well extended with a refined smoothness”; this description would equally apply to the CP-IW460X. Like the Gold 300, the CP-IW460X also had an organic warmth across its upper midrange and treble - superb detail without any tendency towards coldness, dryness or sterility. Voices reproduced by the CP-IW460X possessed a vibrancy, combined with warmth and lifelike texture that enriched my listening sessions.
On Esperanza Spalding’s self-named album “Esperanza” and the track I Adore You, I was smitten by the abundance of dynamic bass energy, weight and definition. Esperanza’s voice came across as sweet, natural and relaxed. The opening kettle drum strikes were stirring and the CP-IW460X seemed to have no problem conveying the ominous Congo jungle flavour of this track. Raspy notes from the shakers were textured with wonderful definition, no doubt enhanced by the ribbon tweeter’s speed and transient proficiency. A generous soundstage was revealed with a clear sense of depth and front to back layering - percussion falling behind Esperanza’s glorious voice, brush strokes on the drums a little more forward. Imaging was handled with aplomb, with the various elements taking defined positions in space.
Sony Rollin’s track, God Bless The Child, was a pleasure to listen to through the CPIW460X loudspeakers. The opening upright bass plucks were deep and resonant, having realistic timbre. Yet, it was Sonny Rollins’ sax play that had my emotions welling. Delivered with dimension, it was as if Sonny was playing just within the confines of my room. There was a caramel sweetness to the sound of the sax, which was well accompanied by the fulsome glow of the guitar notes playing to the other side.
On Outlands, from the TRON Legacy soundtrack, the CP-IW460X exposed the sinew character of the violin strings with evident variations in stroke intensity. The timpani drums were conveyed in an impactful manner, while the brass instruments sounded rich and resonant. The overall soundstage was large with impressive depth and the CP-IW460X’s were able to deliver the vastness of the soundscape across the front plane of my room.
Bass with the CP-IW460X was very well handled. With a 50Hz low frequency extension, you wouldn’t expect the CP-IW460X to reveal the nether regions and they don’t. However, the CP-IW460X should not be underestimated. It has substantial bass, enough to rival a large bookshelf or even mid-size tower loudspeaker. I did try a 2.1 arrangement with a Monitor Audio Silver W-12 subwoofer. Once adjusted, it was clear that the W-12 subwoofer reached deeper into the bass and added some size to images. The W-12 is a musical subwoofer and therefore, well complemented the CP-IW460X; yet, despite the bass enhancement adding in the W-12 did not result in a night and day difference. What I mean is that the CP-IW460X can hold its own on bass for the large majority of music. Home theatre though would be another story, a high quality subwoofer like the W-12 would be indispensable to fully appreciate movie sound effects.
The days of compromising on sound to meet décor trends is a thing of the past with a speaker as capable as the Monitor Audio CP-IW460X. With its paintable grills, any interior decorator should be satisfied, without compromise to high-end sound. Like a ‘sleeper’ hot-rod, the CP-IW460X delivers delicious high-end performance behind a most unassuming exterior.