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In Ceiling Speakers-- my quest!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I am installing a whole house audio system with 5 Sonos ZP120 zones. I listen to music a lot, particularly in the kitchen and dining room, and I want to use in-ceiling speakers for aesthetic purposes but want full range sound with good clarity. When I search for reviews/comments on in ceiling I am not finding much that is definitive-- there are very few strong recommendations. So, I'd like to start a thread with the speakers I've considered and invite any additions and comments. I see a lot of people who post askign for guidance on in-ceiling speakers, but not much response. Here are the in ceiling speakers I'm considering, that fall in a price range of about $250 - 500:


BG Radia PD8CI, Price: $250 each (approx.)
- Eight inch woofer/mid with 3inch Ribbon tweeter
- Rated best speaker by installer who posted on AVS forum and who uses them frequently with Sonos, with good bass extension specifically noted
- Excellent value
- Ribbon tweeters potentially nice for good treble clarity for an in-ceiling (my guess)
- I have not heard these—trying to find a dealer in the bay area

Noble Fidelity L-85s: $325 each
- I stumbled onto this one during a google search for in-ceiling speakers
- Review in avguide.com is outstanding. Multiple installers claiming impressive sound—best review I’ve read of any in-ceiling speaker.
- 8inch Kevlar mid/woofer and 1 inch pivoting soft-dome tweeter
- Lifetime warranty
- Midrange and high freq adjustment switches
- Tweeter is aimable
- Quite shallow- 3 and 5/8ths inches
- I have not heard these- trying to find a dealer in the bay area

Monitor Audio CPC GS: $550 each (approx.)
- 6.5 inch mid-bass driver with gold-level tweeter
- Recommended by local installer who uses a lot of Monitor audio speakers
- Magnolia carries Monitor but not the in-ceiling, per the salesman because “they sound OK but are expensive for what they are”
- Well liked by friend for background music, but he is not really an audiophile
- Have found very little in way of comments/reviews on this speaker
- Fairly deep- require 7 inchs
- Only available from installers, so I can audition them which is a big minus for me.

Martin Logan Helos 100: $500 each
- 8 inch aluminum cones, 1" (2.5 cm) neodymium soft-dome tweeter
- 6 inch mounting depth
- Speaker assembly can be rotated
- I auditioned these at Magnolia. They had good bass extension, clear mid range, and good treble brightness without being “tinny” Overall, I liked them a lot, and better than the Speakercraft AIM 3s and AIM 2s
- Tonal balance/warmth matched well with the Vienna Acoustics front speakers I’m buying.

SpeakerCraft CRS 8- 2s and 3s: $250-350 each
- 8 inch mid/woofers where the 3s have aluminum
- Can purchase aimable versions, but for background audio, not very important IMO
- Sound is overall good, but nothing about it was great IMO. Bass was less than the MLs. Mids/highs sounded fine. They are very good, but they’re yawners IMO.
- I actually DID NOT LIKE the 3s—way too shrill and tinny to the point they sounded distorted. I only liked the 2s. The salesman said they just don’t sound good in his room and the treble adjusters might be cranked, so this could have been the issue
- Lifetime warranty

I hear some people like Triad and Sonance but I haven't researched them much. Please post any comments or reviews of your favorite in-ceiling speakers. If I manage to audition the BG radias or the Noble Fidelities, I'll let you know.

BTW, I know that floorstanding and on wall speakers are better the in-ceiling, so no need to state that in your posts! There is no doubt that in-ceiling speakers are a compromise, that is obvious. Even so, I need them!
post #2 of 24
The BG Radia's are very ear pleasing. The sound array is a little narrow, but overall a great sounding planar speaker.

Take a listen to the NHT iC4 speakers. The audio quality for the dollar is hard to bet.

http://www.nhthifi.com/s.nl/it.A/id....&category=3778
post #3 of 24
I have never heard the radia or the noble fidelity. I sold all three of the other ones and i'd easily pick the martin logan hands down. Yes, I'm biased but the customers never returned and always called to tell me how good they ended up. It was the only ceiling speaker under $1000 (that i've heard/sold/used) that gave a decent soundstage IMO. I have no doubt that the others are good but I really like how the logans have a fairly full sound without sounding harsh or boomy
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by the rick View Post

I have never heard the radia or the noble fidelity. I sold all three of the other ones and i'd easily pick the martin logan hands down. Yes, I'm biased but the customers never returned and always called to tell me how good they ended up. It was the only ceiling speaker under $1000 (that i've heard/sold/used) that gave a decent soundstage IMO. I have no doubt that the others are good but I really like how the logans have a fairly full sound without sounding harsh or boomy

Of the speakers I've auditioned so far, the MLs are the best. At $500 each, they are on the high side, but they are definitely a safe bet. I'm optimistic about the Noble Fidelity speakers. I didn't know this until I looked at their website more closely, but it appears they specialize in in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. I sent an email to them, and they responded that they will provide the name of a dealer in my area soon. Will keep you posted.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Webomatic View Post

The BG Radia's are very ear pleasing. The sound array is a little narrow, but overall a great sounding planar speaker.

Take a listen to the NHT iC4 speakers. The audio quality for the dollar is hard to bet.

http://www.nhthifi.com/s.nl/it.A/id....&category=3778

Which sound better-- the BG Radia or the NHT's?
post #6 of 24
Might consider NHT? Several options available in-ceiling speakers. I have select IC-3 for rear surround and whole house audio but not installed yet so I can't say for sure but might want to consider.

Tom
post #7 of 24
Have you thought about trying Emotiva's in ceiling speakers? I know their cabinet speakers have gotten some pretty good reviews.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjscanlon View Post

Might consider NHT? Several options available in-ceiling speakers. I have select IC-3 for rear surround and whole house audio but not installed yet so I can't say for sure but might want to consider.
Tom

That is two votes for NHT. I looked up the iC4's:
- $250 each
-8 inch woofer (aluminum cone)
-1 inch (3 tweeter array, aluminum domes)


Looks ike there are a couple of stores that carry them about 20 minutes away. I'll have to check them out. I'm not sure how well aluminum speakers will pair with a Vienna Acoutics system that I have-- the metal cones on the speakercraft did not match well, but perhaps NHT has a better implementation.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quick update- I heard back from Noble Fidelity and I purchased a pair of L-85s to try in our home. The NF team is very helpful and responsive. Gregory and Oliver provided advice on locating and installing the speakers. They have a 90day no questions asked return policy. Overnight shipping too. I'll post again when I trial them. They also have outdoor speakers available that are not listed on their website including a model with an 8 inch mid/woofer, which is not a common size for outdoor.

FWIW, I contacted local installers for BG Radia and Totem and got no response whatsoever. Would still appreciate any comments on the speakers listed at the top.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZinMe View Post

Quick update- I heard back from Noble Fidelity and I purchased a pair of L-85s to try in our home. The NF team is very helpful and responsive. Gregory and Oliver provided advice on locating and installing the speakers. They have a 90day no questions asked return policy. Overnight shipping too. I'll post again when I trial them. They also have outdoor speakers available that are not listed on their website including a model with an 8 inch mid/woofer, which is not a common size for outdoor.

FWIW, I contacted local installers for BG Radia and Totem and got no response whatsoever. Would still appreciate any comments on the speakers listed at the top.

Hey Zin,

I am a authorized custom installer for BG Radia speakers (as well as Sonos). I am currently revamping my main demo room with the CC-LCR's up front (wall mounted), SS-202's for side surrounds (Ceiling mounted), and the PD8CI for rear surrounds (Ceiling mounted as well). Even though they will be used as surrounds, I can wire them so you can hear two channel as well.

I should have the room ready in about 3 weeks.

I am not listed on BG Radia's website yet, but I am about 60 miles north of SF.

If you can wait, let me know.

Patrick
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the offer, but that is about a 2 hr drive from my home, so not sure I can swing it.
post #12 of 24
Sure thing Zin. With a name like that, maybe you can stop by if you are ever touring wine country. I am in Rohnert Park (Sonoma county).
post #13 of 24
I vote for these:
http://www2.jblpro.com/products/inst...BL_C328_v4.pdf

They play like a 12" with wave guide. JBL provides honest specs for their products.
post #14 of 24
I recently put Polk TC80i in pretty much all rooms of the house. Their MSRP is $350 each, but I got a much better deal. Have been VERY happy with them, especially impressed by how full they sound. The lower lines are not as good, of course - esp lack of bass. I am running them with Sonos. Of course, having a separate sub will help a lot, but they do a great job in the rooms by themselves as well.
post #15 of 24
How did the Noble Fidelity L-85s sound?? I'm considering getting a bunch of Noble's for my Home Theatre...
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
I wanted to provide an update on this thread as I'm getting a lot of PMs on the subject.

I ultimately tried 5 different speakers and decided to use four different speakers in different rooms. The reason for this is that each room / application had a different set of requirements in order to sound their best, and I tried to optimize for cost as well where I could.

Here are the ones I liked:

- The noble fidelity L-85s sounded good in my home theater as surrounds because they are voiced IMO similarly to my Vienna Acoustics front speakers. They blend seamlessly which is important. Also, I only had 4 inches of mounting depth, and these guys fit easily-- they did a nice job designing them for easy installation in tight places, and the owner is very helpful and provides a lot of personal attention in placeing orders, helping with speaker selection and placement. Great guys, very helpful.

- Boston Acoustics-- I actually bought these 4-5 years ago and decided not to replace them because even when I swapped them out with other speakers, the BAs did a great job. I think they are a good value, and if you like a warmer sounding speaker for acoustic and vocal music, they are awesome for $300 each. The model is the HSI480. I think BAs sound very natural, and in the living room where they reside, they are mounted close to wall spread near the corners, and the vocal presense is great. Not great bass extension, but very good. Vocals are really really good.

- B&W CCM 682: I used a pair in the dining room, and a pair in the kitchen (those rooms are adjacent. This is where we do 70% of our listening, and so i wanted the best of the best. These speakers are fantastic, but expensive. Maybe cost almost twice what the BAs and NF cost, for about 20% better performance, so I only recommend using these where it really matters. They are clear, punchy, very good bass, sound good with all types of music. They require some depth, so won't work everywhere. $600 each. Yikes, but wow. I needed a strong speaker because it would have looked akward to place them near the wall and twoards teh concerns- they had to be alinged along the center line of teh ceiling, which acoustically is very challenging. It took a very high quality and large-woofer speaker to sound good in this situation. Anytime you can, put the speakers near the walls-- they sound much better. The same principal that applies to floor standing speakers applies to in-ceilings.

- Speakercraft DT 7 inch. Suprisingly, for $225, this speaker sounds great in a small room like the bathroom where we used it. I tried othe rSpeakercraft AIM7 - 3s in other locations, and did not like them as much as the NFs, BAs and B&Ws. But this one is a winner.

Hope this helps.
post #17 of 24
Hi ZinMe,

I am looking for a 5.1 setup and my price range is similar to yours. Family room is 15'x15'x9' high with dining room/kitchen connected. Due to the room layout and WAF, I need to go all in-ceiling except for the sub, it will be a 10" or 12" floor unit. If you have to pick between the Noble L-85s and BA HSI 480, which one do you prefer? I'm looking for the cleanest mids and smooth high in my price range. Right now, the Noble L85s, BA HSI480s, and NHT IC4s are front runner, thanks!
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by whitemdx03 View Post
Hi ZinMe,

I am looking for a 5.1 setup and my price range is similar to yours. Family room is 15'x15'x9' high with dining room/kitchen connected. Due to the room layout and WAF, I need to go all in-ceiling except for the sub, it will be a 10" or 12" floor unit. If you have to pick between the Noble L-85s and BA HSI 480, which one do you prefer? I'm looking for the cleanest mids and smooth high in my price range. Right now, the Noble L85s, BA HSI480s, and NHT IC4s are front runner, thanks!
If you are planning a 5.1 in-ceiling system, then you want to look at directed speakers.

Definitive Technology, Triad, Episode and others make directional, enclosed and highly regarded ceiling speakers that would be much better than non-directional speakers that are mainly used for background music.
post #19 of 24
I hope i am not in trouble for hijacking the OP's thread, but i figured it's nice to have a good thread about in-ceiling system rather than starting a new one. For my new construction home (not custom) I was either given a choice of a prewired 5.1 system w/pre-determined cutout locations or nothing at all. I knew I wanted to hide the wires somehow so I opted for the 5.1 prewired option.
So there are 5 round holes cutout in the ceiling with wires routed to a wall plate by the intended media center location. Therefore I prefer to install round speakers, but if it really makes that much difference, I will consider the 'enclosed, directional' option, but all seems to be squarish and are quite large. I've attached a couple of pics of the family room and speaker cutoff for discussion. The kitchen, dining room, and family is one big rectangle, the space i intend to use as the family room is 15'x15' with 9' ceiling.
I am about 2 months away from construction completion, so I will try to audition the speakers once i narrow it down to a few. Just trying to see what others have done.
http://www.filesavr.com/AN7JCM3TG37NQA1
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63769079@N07/
post #20 of 24
Since they holes are already cut-out, the company that did the pre-wire and cut-outs already have a speaker in mind since holes will vary from speaker to speaker. See what they have planned for you.

But if round is your preference, then Niles, Speakercraft, Episode, JBL and Revel come to mind.

If it was my place... I would seal up the front holes before it's painted and have the front 3 lines run to the tv and have a LCR soundbar placed underneath the tv. I would go with Triad for this as they make several and they can be sized to be the same width as your tv. I would keep the rear placements and use ceiling speakers for the rears.
post #21 of 24
Only cutout and wires are provided, no speakers. So i am free to select the speakers. I was just starting to look into LCR soundbars, then I came across this review on the Noble L-85 LCR's:
hXXp://hometheaterreview.com/noble-fidelity-l-85-lcrs-in-ceiling-loudspeaker-reviewed/

Very good review overall and I'll probably go this route, it should be 'good enough'. Thanks for your help!.
post #22 of 24
Well somehow I found this thread and after talking with Greg decided to get 5 Noble-Fidelity L-65LCR for my home theatre. First of all I was blown away by the level of customer service Greg provided. We talked about my room arrangement, preferences, and best configuration for my needs. He was extremely knowledgeable and patient. First class customer service all the way. Hopefully I'll have the system up and going in a few weeks.
post #23 of 24

Today I finally had ceiling speakers installed in our addition. (got tired of seeing the wires sticking out of a hole). Because I complain about things a lot, I thought I would post this. After much research (those who know me well know that I would not be exaggerating), I decided on Noble Fidelity - a small company out of Nevada. They have won numerous awards and there are impressive reviews (particularly impressive because ceiling speakers are not typically highly regarded). I emailed, but there was no representative in the northeast. Well, after many discussions via email and telephone with the owner, Greg, he developed a relationship with an installation company here. He was so helpful and pleasant and  spent so much time with me.  The speakers sound just AMAZING!! The bass is really good and the sound is crisp and clear. I could hear breathing in certain songs.  I have listened to more music tonight than I have in 5 years. The installers were great and now I"m spreading the word. Not only is there something to be said about an incredible product, but it's nice to know that there is still service and pride in one's work. I highly recommend this company. 

post #24 of 24

I have a similar budget and purchased Def Tech UIW RCS II's

 

now looking for a sub, receiver, and surrounds to complete the room

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