Installation Speakers of the Year
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