Totem Acous­tic In-Wall vs On-Wall Speak­ers

How Do You Want Your Sound To Look?

NOVO - - Totem Acoustic In-Wall vs On-Wall Speakers - by Ja­son Zi­dle, Totem Acous­tic

The com­bi­na­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments and the bur­geon­ing home ren­o­va­tion mar­ket has made cus­tom in­stalled speak­ers both a good acous­tic and cos­met­i­cally at­trac­tive op­tion. They fall into two main cat­e­gories, in-wall and on wall, and there are ad­van­tages to both. Both come in a va­ri­ety of sizes and per­for­mance lev­els to cover ev­ery bud­get and ap­pli­ca­tion, from sim­ple am­bi­ent mu­sic in small ar­eas to pow­er­ful theater sys­tems in large zones. Both un­clut­ter your home, free up floor or fur­ni­ture space, and blend into the de­cor. How­ever, choos­ing specif­i­cally which works best for you re­quires un­der­stand­ing the in­tri­ca­cies be­yond their ba­sic cos­metic dif­fer­ences.

In-wall and in-ceil­ing speak­ers are in­stalled di­rectly into the dry­wall and fit flush, leav­ing only a prac­ti­cally in­vis­i­ble per­fo­rated grille to sig­nify the speaker’s phys­i­cal pres­ence. This is both their strong­est pro and great­est con be­cause some peo­ple cringe at merely putting a nail in the wall, let alone cut­ting a shoe­box sized hole into it, but it is the stealth­ier of the two ap­proaches. Totem’s new Kin Ar­chi­tec­tural se­ries of five in-ceil­ing speak­ers and ac­ces­sories can sat­isfy any re­quire­ment or de­signer choice. The IC62ST sin­gle piece stereo speaker is per­fect for smaller zones, while a pair of the larger flag­ship IC82 8-inch speak­ers are vir­tu­ally as stealthy but can dy­nam­i­cally en­er­gize even the largest room with sound. All Kin models come with round grilles but square grilles are avail­able as an op­tion to

match fix­tures, HVAC ac­ces­sories, and suit per­sonal tastes. In-wall and in-ceil­ing speak­ers are gen­er­ally open back de­signs, mean­ing there is no phys­i­cal en­clo­sure, which is a costly and acous­ti­cally vi­tal com­po­nent of a tra­di­tional speaker. Nor­mally the cabi­net tunes and per­fects a speaker’s bass per­for­mance but an in-wall speaker uses the wall cav­ity where it is in­stalled as its en­clo­sure and fi­nal tun­ing el­e­ment. Be­cause the ma­te­ri­als and avail­able space in walls and ceil­ings are never con­sis­tent, there will be acous­tic dif­fer­ences in rooms us­ing the same speak­ers.

The open back de­sign also means sound can bleed through to neigh­bor­ing rooms, and ma­te­ri­als in the walls and ceil­ings can also po­ten­tially come into con­tact with the speaker and de­grade per­for­mance. Adding Totem’s Acous­tic Back Cans can re­duce sound from pen­e­trat­ing ad­ja­cent rooms by 24dB so you can en­joy mu­sic in one room while some­one sleeps peace­fully in an­other. They also pro­tect the com­po­nents from ma­te­ri­als, dirt, and dust that can cause dam­age.

The high­est end cus­tom in­stal­la­tion (CI) speak­ers have en­clo­sures to pro­tect the com­po­nents, en­sure con­sis­tent per­for­mance, and limit sound trans­fer­ence to over­come the main short­com­ings of CI speak­ers. The Totem Tribe In-Wall and Kin In-Wall se­ries fea­ture the ab­so­lute best com­po­nents, and driv­ers de­signed specif­i­cally for their en­clo­sures to gen­er­ate heavy­weight bass, life­like clar­ity and a holo­graphic sound­stage. But, they all re­quire that you cut into your walls or ceil­ing.

On-wall speak­ers pro­vide a mea­sure of com­pro­mise and of­fer some clear ad­van­tages over in-walls. While per­haps not as in­con­spic­u­ous as in-walls, they are about as slim and shal­low as a wall mounted flat screen and come in a va­ri­ety of fin­ishes that will cos­met­i­cally match any dé­cor. The wall in­ci­sion need only be large enough to ac­com­mo­date the speaker wire re­quired to con­nect the am­pli­fier, a far less painful or in­va­sive pro­ce­dure and one that is eas­ily reme­died by even a be­gin­ner DIY’er with some plas­ter and a putty knife. Most in­clude brack­ets that re­quire no more wall surgery than a few dry­wall screws and an­chors, and are eas­ily in­stalled in min­utes.

On-wall speak­ers have their own cab­i­nets so per­for­mance is al­ways con­sis­tent and not vari­ably af­fected as with in-walls. They will ex­cel just about any­where you want to place them and in the case of premium models, sound ev­ery bit as good as tra­di­tional speak­ers. The Totem Tribe se­ries in­cludes four on-wall speak­ers and a sub­woofer that all mea­sure less than 4” deep, are avail­able in a va­ri­ety of beau­ti­ful fin­ishes, and are tech­no­log­i­cally armed to ri­val the per­for­mance of large tower speak­ers. Ar­ti­sanal cabi­net con­struc­tion fea­tur­ing lock mitered joints, rev­o­lu­tion­ary Tor­rent woofers that re­quire no cross­over and have magnet strength ca­pa­ble of lift­ing a small car, and pro­pri­etary Totem for­mu­las to syn­er­gize all char­ac­ter­is­tics make Tribe the un­ri­valled on-wall speaker op­tion. Un­like in-walls where the grille is al­most al­ways in­stalled, most Tribe own­ers ac­tu­ally leave the grilles off be­cause they ap­pre­ci­ate the unique mar­riage of con­ve­nience, style, and tech­nol­ogy.

When com­par­ing stealth alone, in-ceil­ings are bet­ter chameleons and will dis­ap­pear more thor­oughly while still pro­vid­ing won­der­ful sound. The coun­ter­point is, the over­all de­sign of on-walls will gen­er­ally pro­vide su­pe­rior con­ve­nience and per­for­mance. Per­haps the main point to pon­der here is the per­ceived per­ma­nence of

the in­stal­la­tion.

Chang­ing in-walls re­quires sub­stan­tial plas­ter work to ac­com­mo­date new cutout di­men­sions, there­fore up­grad­ing is un­likely so con­sider them a per­ma­nent fix­ture of your house. If the goal is in­stalling a sys­tem once and ap­pre­ci­at­ing it as long as pos­si­ble then in-walls are the right choice, but opt for the ab­so­lute best you can af­ford. Con­sider that th­ese speak­ers can last well over 25 years so amor­tiz­ing them over that pe­riod means there’s a tiny cost dif­fer­ence be­tween good and great speak­ers. And if this is part of a full cus­tom ren­o­va­tion with home au­to­ma­tion, se­cu­rity, light­ing, etc, the au­dio por­tion only rep­re­sents a small per­cent­age of the over­all cost. Just re­mem­ber that your beloved speak­ers would have to be for­saken should you ever move be­cause leav­ing gaping holes would not be an ac­cept­able sit­u­a­tion for a new buyer. Be warned that the guilt of aban­don­ing them is crush­ing.

On-wall speak­ers al­low you to eas­ily bring them should you move, and re­quire lit­tle la­bor in­volved in con­ceal­ing their pre­vi­ous ex­is­tence. They also have a much stronger ap­peal to the au­dio en­thu­si­ast, who ap­pre­ci­ate both the su­pe­rior per­for­mance and the sim­plic­ity in­volved in up­grad­ing them. They can be re­placed or repo­si­tioned vir­tu­ally as eas­ily as chang­ing a pic­ture on a wall.

The good news is that stealthy, sen­sa­tional sound is eas­ily achievable through ei­ther ap­proach. The slight­est edge to over­all per­for­mance and ver­sa­til­ity goes to on-wall speak­ers. In-wall and ceil­ing op­tions are far less ap­par­ent so they have greater ap­peal to those who think speak­ers should be heard rather than seen, and pre­fer to in­stall some­thing once and en­joy it for the life­time of their home. Choose Totem and you’ll love ei­ther op­tion.

Cre­ated in 1987, Totem Acous­tic is proudly cel­e­brat­ing 30 years of crafting ar­ti­sanal speak­ers in Mon­treal, Canada. Totem’s mis­sion is to de­velop loud­speak­ers ca­pa­ble of re­pro­duc­ing a truly mu­si­cal and in­volv­ing per­for­mance, pro­vide de­signs that are af­ford­able, con­ve­nient so­lu­tions, and are real ‘soul movers’ for the mu­sic, movie, and gam­ing en­thu­si­ast. Dis­cover yours to­day.

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