EI Live 2023 custom install show
We don’t often visit the EI Live custom install shows at the Ear but once in a while it can be interesting to see how things are progressing in that field. Having speakers in walls and ceilings is no longer the preserve of the super rich nor is it only supplied by obscure brands selling cheap drivers, there are plenty of well established brands building products specifically so that those who dislike the audio aesthetic don’t have to miss out on good sound. EI Live was held in a huge building on Farnham airport, originally the birth place of British aviation and now a popular spot for parking your private jet, I hear the rates are quite competitive if you’re interested. Here are a few of the more interesting products at the event. The Profile range above is from Gallo, they’re not usually that easy to spot.
PMC make a wide range of in- and on-wall loudspeakers for both pro and domestic installation, these feature their ATL loading and very similar drivers to the domestic models, especially the new prodigy range. On the left is the biggest of the bunch, the CI-140 is 1.4m high and has an n-compass dispersion device on the midrange dome. One of these will set you back £4,495.
The latest addition to the Wiim range is the Amp, a 60W Class D streaming amplifier from a company that started out designing software for other brands but got into manufacturing with the Mini streamer at £90. It has analogue inputs and offer a very wide range of streaming services, price is yet to be established but will be between £300 – £400.
Lithe Audio is a British company with a mission to bring active loudspeakers to the install world. Their IO1 is an active speaker that can be placed almost anywhere from corners to desktops and even hung from the ceiling, it’s weatherproof so can be used in the garden (on a spike as shown) and a pair with one passive and one active speaker costs £900.
It wouldn’t be a custom install show without at least one big telly, the LG MSD 3000 is 3m wide by 1.7m high and made up with 72 SMD panels which provide a 2K picture at approximately 20% the price of an LED screen of the same size. That this costs £50,000 gives you some idea of why projectors remain so popular.
Sonus faber are offering CI-fi in the form of the Arena 20 3.5-way in-wall speakers that have a very similar driver array to the Amati G5 reviewed recently, combined with Arena S15 subs driven by sister brand McIntosh’s MX150 processor and MI502 digital power amplifiers.
Theory is an American brand with a system approach that combines DSP with active drive to build home cinema and stereo systems. The sb-25 has two carbon fibre woofers and a compression tweeter with high output capabilities from a shallow 3.5inch aluminium cabinet. The range is designed by Paul Hales and comes in a soundbar version that is effectively three sb-25s in a line, price is $995 each in passive form.
Italian company Garvan Acoustic makes the Goccia hanging speaker out of ceramic and offers a wide range of finishes with the porcelain option coming in at €1.500. The SA115 cube behind it is an outdoor speaker with a Corian cabinet and acoustic lens diffusion system, price ranges from €1.500 to €2.000.
These Lyngdorf multi driver speakers are designed to be stacked to form a line array, an approach that drives the room very efficiently and produces an ease at high SPLs that is rare with conventional speakers.
If you want serious bass without looking at a subwoofer consider putting a pair of Bowers & Wilkins ISW-8 subs into a well constructed wall, don’t think we have seen a more robust looking 12inch driver in this arena before.