I have conquered the Wife Acceptance Factor.
I do not mean I have compromised speaker placement positions and audiophile standards. And I do not mean I have overridden my wife’s desires and my own to leave a room looking like a normal room. I have done both. I have my cake and I’m eating it too. I have created a new automated surround speaker system. Nobody on the planet has this. It’s amazing. It basically puts your real surround speakers (NOT IN-WALLS!!) exactly where you want them, and puts them away when you are finished. It is accurate to 1/16 of an inch, automated, silent, and does not compromise any audiophile rules.
Let me start by saying that this project took me over a year to get to where it is now, and as you can see it is nearly finished. But it is just so awesome I had to show it now. I just need to treat the last two ceiling coffers. It is a Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 system using Kef R700 Left and Right fronts, Kef R600c Center, 4 Kef CCi200 ceiling speakers, and 4 Kef R300 side and rear surrounds. Electronics are Marantz. The surround speakers are exactly where they should be according to Dolby Atmos guidelines. The front and center speakers are where I had them originally. I also have two SVS SB13 Ultra subwoofers and I have not dealt with the wife acceptance factor on those. My wife is simply going to let me get away with them.
By the way, I am one of those guys that believe the room affects the sound far more than the speakers or electronics. The speakers could be any brand or cost level that you want. You are of course limited by size somewhat, but there is no reason this same thing could not be done with towers!
This is not a custom built media room. It is a living room converted to media room like most people have. However this system could easily be used in an actual custom built media room. Do any real audiophiles really want to have in-wall speakers in their custom built ultimate media room? OR do they want to have high quality free standing speakers placed away from the walls (actually away from everything!) so they can sound like an audiophile wants them to sound? And then be able to hide them automatically when they want?
This started when I decided I wanted a Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 system in my existing Family Room/Media Room. My wife said NO speakers on stands, No wires showing, No speakers on shelves to replace the art and knickknacks, NO in-wall speakers!! (Because there was art on the walls where I wanted to put them). Also, there was no room on the “back wall” to put speakers because there were windows running all the way across the back of the room. (These will eventually be covered by acoustic drapes or shades to replace the existing plantation shutters). I have a coffered ceiling which my wife did not want me to remove.
The project involved a ton of research, planning, engineering, and reading. It involved electrical, robotics, physics, acoustics, engineering, plumbing, air conditioning, and structural concerns. It involved screw-ups, errors, and hanging everything up temporarily to make sure it sounded good!
Each tweeter of the 4 surrounds is (or will be) exactly 18 inches above my ear when seated in my center media seat and all positioning was accomplished using lasers. The system puts these speakers in the same position plus or minus 1/32 of an inch. I could put them higher or lower. Notice the rear speakers are even toed in!
You are probably thinking “Well, that’s cute but I don’t have a giant attic above my media room”. Either do I! The entire system runs horizontally through the ceiling between my first and second floors.
The main question you should be asking is “how does that cable work?” It could be a spool out cable like Stage Ninja makes (and I considered), but those all use a sliding contact. A sliding contact is a weak and poor contact that begins wearing out the first day you use it. Eventually, it does wear out! It is not an audiophile solution. I also considered simply hooking up a cable by hand when the speakers were down and removing it before putting them up. But what if I accidentally hit the up button while the cables were attached? Yikes. The cable you see is a 12 gauge oxygen free copper speaker cable that is continuous from amplifier output to speaker input. There is no break in it. How did I get it to pull itself back up into the ceiling without tangling or getting caught? The answer is not “it’s on a pulley or spool”. The physics of the situation is that no pulley or spool placed in a cable path will allow a continuous unbroken cable to spool out or in without putting that cable somewhere else. I might have used a counterweight to pull the excess cable in a specific path. But I did not, because I had no place to put a counterweight which obviously would have to travel down as the speakers go up. My method is more accurate, safer, and better. This entire system was retrofitted to my existing situation in the space between my media room ceiling and upstairs bedroom floors which by pure coincidence was 14 inches. The big Kef R300 bookshelf is 25 pounds and 15.5 inches tall, but I was able to make more space by placing acoustic absorption and fabric on my ceilings. This fabric also covers the 4 ceiling speakers, and even though it decreased my ceiling height (10.5 ft) to 10.25 ft it is completely unnoticeable.
True, I have not included the actual parts or design. I’m involved with some companies right now and I’m not quite prepared to do that. But I will.
1. Allows any speaker position in the room relative to seated listener position.
2. Allows any speaker height relative to seated listener position No speaker stands to knock over! Safer than stands. I could add another 200 pounds to each speaker and the cables would hold easily.
3. Allows you to place speakers where they SHOULD be placed in the room relative to seated listener position
4. No wires to trip over
5. No sound transmission through floor or shelves that would normally be caused by the speakers sitting there
6. It’s so COOL!
7. Does not look ugly! It looks awesome!
8. Disappears when you want.
9. Parts are relatively cheap.
10. Relatively silent operation
11. Operated by remote control, switch, or phone app.
12. When the system is hidden, nobody can poke at your speaker drivers.
13. Speakers final up and down position is accurate
14. System is silent
15. Speaker movement start by accelerating to speed then ends with deceleration to stop. No abrupt movements.
1. Complicated engineering involved
2. Labor intensive
3. Expensive to have built.
4. Could be dangerous if activated when someone is standing directly below them. But the movement is pretty slow as you can see. Also, I could easily setup an electric eye system that would stop movement should anyone cross the movement path. Getting something out of the cabinets below and standing up quickly without looking could result in a whack to the head.
5. Oddly shaped or coffered ceilings could present some difficulties.
6. The way the system is currently set up, physically lifting the speakers or intentionally impeding their downward travel might possibly throw things out of adjustment.