In­stal­la­tion Speak­ers of the Year

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JUDGES’ COM­MENT “Pla­nar mag­netic highs that make th­ese line-source speak­ers as dreamy with mu­sic as when fir­ing out a movie sound­track.”

In­stal­la­tion speak­ers are made to be heard, not seen. So while we (as fans of au­dio tech) would rather en­joy peer­ing at the pair of 61cm pla­nar mag­netic film mem­branes and the eight more con­ven­tional race­track-shaped woofers in each of th­ese 131cm-high Wis­dom In­sight L8i speak­ers (they’re priced at $12,000 each), you’re never go­ing to see that in any self-re­spect­ing home cin­ema. At most you’ll see them grilled, but more likely they’ll be en­tirely hid­den away in some barn­storm­ing home cin­ema such as the one be­low.

We’ve long had a great ad­mi­ra­tion for Wis­dom Au­dio’s line source speak­ers, of which the In­sight range is three from the top, though the L8i main­tains the prin­ci­ples be­hind the high­est mod­els, and the tech­nolo­gies too. A line source is very dif­fer­ent to the ‘point source’ of con­ven­tional box speak­ers. The en­ergy dis­per­sion spreads in what might be de­scribed as an ex­pand­ing cylin­der, hardly at all ver­ti­cally, dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing floor and ceil­ing re­flec­tions com­pared with the spher­i­cal ex­pan­sion of the sound wave from a cone. The per­ceived vol­ume of line speak­ers doesn’t de­cay in the same way ei­ther, and you get a far more gen­er­ous ‘sweet spot’ both front to back and side to side.

Though we heard them in a home cin­ema con­text, with a sys­tem in­clud­ing the smaller non-pla­nar In­sight P2i mod­els, the sys­tem went far be­yond the ex­pected rapid dy­nam­ics for movie sound. Pla­nar mag­netic de­signs share with elec­tro­stat­ics a unique abil­ity to de­liver speed and de­tail to mu­sic that is likely to as­tound any­one used to reg­u­lar tweet­ers. It’s a dif­fer­ent pre­sen­ta­tion style, and one we’d rec­om­mend you hear be­fore head­ing down the usual box-and­cone sur­round so­lu­tion. More info: www.net­workav.com.au

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