Originally Posted by mazersteven
I don't agree with that totally. IMO there are quality in-walls that will out perform, and sound better then some traditional speakers. Not in every case will a traditional bookshelf, or tower speaker sound better then an in-wall speaker.
How does even a "quality" in-wall that does not have an enclosure, deal with the inherent resonances of the wall? Also, how does it deal with the inherent porosity of drywall? Many people are under the impression that you can take an "open-back" in-wall speaker, stick it in a wall cavity and the backwave of the speaker driver will have no impact on the sound quality. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are 3 key elements to speaker design; the drivers, the crossovers and the enclosure. All 3 have a significant impact on the final sound quality. How does a speaker engineer design a speaker for highest sound quality when one of these 3, the enclosure, is so totally unpredictable? An in-wall speaker could be installed in an open cavity with drywall on the front and "back" walls. Or, the "back" wall could be plywood with a layer of brick on the other side. The column could be a 16" on-center 2"x4" stud interior wall, or it could be a 24" on-center 2"x8" exterior wall. The column could be 8' high, or it could be 16' or 24' high. The column could be stuffed with pink fluffy fiberglass, or it could be a wide open "resonator".
Tell me, mazer, how does a speaker designer optimize a speaker for all these potential enclosure types. I asked several in-wall manufacturer's this question at CEDIA a few weeks ago. The standard response I received was, "We let the installers take care of that."
I have seen and heard several in-wall installations done by "professional" installers. Walls hum, buzz and rattle. The bass is exactly ONE NOTE, the note that the wall resonates at.
I suppose a competent installer could design an in-wall system that would get crossed-over above the resonant frequency of the wall. However, that would require the ability to actually *measure* the wall's resonant frequency, (and all of those wall types I listed above would have *very* different resonant frequencies.) Still, if the system is crossed to the sub much higher than 80 Hz, sub localization will become an issue.
Everything I just said addresses the issue of sound quality of an in-wall system. There is also the issue of sound-bleed to other living spaces with in-wall speakers. An enclosed in-wall reduces this problem by at least 20 dB.
Mazer, you seem to think I have a "thing" for in-wall speakers. I don't. I have a "thing" for UNENCLOSED in-walls. There are a lot of questions asked about "budget" systems with unenclosed in-walls. I consistently tell people that they either need to spend the money for enclosures, or they should look at on-wall or free-standing speakers. Until drywall manufacturers start to make "speaker-quality" drywall, I will continue to express this opinion.