As a quick heads up, I know all too well many Catalyst and SubMersive owners are looking forward to the Spark and related on-wall designs to be released. Among a variety of factors, there have been 2 major hold ups here.
First relates to service issues with too many of the compact Spark amplifiers. These proved to have notably more issues than the Catalyst or 1000W SubMersive amplifiers. While these are all "ICEpower" amplifiers, the smaller amplifier used a different module with a different ICEpower implementation. SpeakerPower as usual is very responsive and works with us to repair any issues that have come up or will in the future, but the service issues have left me less excited to ship out a bunch of these amplifiers in largely anticipated new designs. Yesterday I finally received the first samples of an updated and more powerful amplifier (~50% more power), and am very happy with the initial testing. These new amplifier modules fit in the same physical amplifier housing as the original Spark but utilize design elements more like the 1000W & 500W amplifiers with the expected polishing of a decade + of shipping a design. I feel confident using these new ICEPower modules and the flexibility they allow. It has also always been in the plan to offer external amplification located in an equipment rack similar to what we offered this year with the external SS2-8000
amplifier which can power 4 SubMersive Slave units from the rack. I am much happier about the idea of investing in metalwork for rack/shelf cases amplifier modules I have confidence in using over a significant period of time.
The need for rack located amplification became even more important after attending CEDIA in September and experiencing various Atmos and Auro 3D setups. Attending multiple panel discussions and stealing some 1-1 time with a few experts confirmed many of my hunches and helped me develop a vision for what sort of solutions would be required to fill out all speaker locations in large room, high performance systems. These systems are simple when every speaker is a cute little 2 way with 6.5" woofer that you can place at every location. Things get more interesting when you start with a system based around Catalyst 12C's as main speakers. While we will have a package similar to the original Spark, we will also have 2 very shallow 2 way designs using our 8" coaxial driver. These shallow packages will protrude only ~6" from the wall or down from the ceiling, and allow for precise aiming. The connection to the external amplification in the equipment rack can be commonly available 4 conductor in-wall speaker wire, with this 4x#12 Belden wire
being my favorite example. As the various models start to roll out in the coming months the flexibility planned should become more apparent. We'll have some pictures of some pre-production units before the end of February. Until then the JTR Slanted 8 or S8 and a few other coaxial offerings from Tannoy and Reaction can make for some viable options.