The Hunter Fan Company is well known for their extensive line of ceiling fans. One of their latest models we saw at this year's 2009 CES was the Concert Breeze, featuring a set of built-in speakers using a proprietary 2.4GHz Soundolier® sound system. The audio is transmitted from a wireless unit from up to 300 feet away making it perfect for larger rooms. The Concert Breeze™ has a 52" span and utilizes an ultra-quiet WhisperWind® Motor capable of 12 amps at the highest speed. The location of the ceiling fan is ideal for providing 360 degrees of sound, usually from a central location. The Hunter Concert Breeze™ System is available in two options: an indoor rated model available in brushed nickel (model 21629) with dark cherry blades and an indoor-outdoor model with a bronze finish (model 21623) with walnut blades for covered porches or sunrooms. We received the model 21623 which has walnut colored blades.
The Concert Breeze™ has an Italian Amber Scavo Glass covering over three 40 watt Candelabra bulbs. The center of the base, where the speakers are installed, has indicator lights that display the channel frequency (1 through 4) and the Surround Sound mode. The four lights grouped together are used to display the channel frequency. We set our transmitter to 4 as indicated in the photo. These lights change color (green or red) depending whether the signal is locked or not. The two amber lights indicate the surround sound mode (left, right, or mixed). The indicator lights timeout after a few seconds and turn off.
The Concert Breeze™ includes a compact IR remote, which allows users to control the audio and lighting levels. There is also an audio mute button and On/Off button for the light. The volume buttons provides 16 discrete levels and off. The light has four brightness levels and off. The Setup section of the remote defines the audio channel being used (there are 4). Pressing the CH button cycles the fan from CH1 through CH4. When the correct channel is received by the fan, the channel lights turn from red to green indicating the fan has locked onto the wireless transmitter. Pressing the R/L/M button cycles through the Surround Sound modes (right, left, mixed) with the left, right or both lights illuminating. The remote uses a standard 3V lithium CR2025 button battery.
The Concert Breeze™ is easy to install and is similar to standard ceiling fans. Each of the five fan blades are pitched at 12° and are held in place with three screws. The blades require grommet inserts for each screw that help dampen vibration. It should be noted that this design is much more balanced than what we have seen with other ceiling fans. Our installation required the purchase of an additional downrod for the vaulted and angled ceiling. The fan comes standard with a 2.5-inch downrod for standard (flush) ceiling installations.
The fan can utilize a single or dual switch configuration with the latter having the light and fan power controlled separately. Unfortunately, the fan cannot be controlled by the supplied remote. A side pull chain is used to control the speed setting including off. The chain design caused an uncomfortable torque on the fan when pulled. This alone would be good reason to have the fan controlled from a wall switch.
The Hunter Concert Breeze Fan uses the Soundolier Maestro Digital Audio Wireless Transmitter to provide the audio signal to the fan. The transmitter base measures 5.75" x 2.25" and stands 6" tall. The tower holds the antenna needed to transmit the signal to the fan. The unit is powered by a universal (100-240VAC) switching power adapter producing 5V at 500mA. A green LED illuminates on the front of the transmitter indicating power is on.
The Maestro wireless transmitter is designed to operate on one of four channel frequencies. The fan must be assigned to the same channel setting as the slider switch on the back of the transmitting unit. Line level as well as speaker level signals can be connected to the transmitter. Using a 3.5mm male-to-male cable, we tested this system with an iPod as well as the more sophisticated Sonos Music System. The Sonos System can be configured with fixed line level outputs. What I liked about the transmitter is that there was no distortion encountered even at the highest level setting on the fan.
The transmitter has speaker terminals on the bottom of the unit. These clip connectors make it easy to run wires directly from an audio amplifier or receiver.
The speakers have obvious limitations being packaged into the base of the light assembly. However, the sound quality is good and depends much on the surrounding acoustical environment. Rooms with heavy reflections will not sound as focused as a well damped room. We know this because we listened to the Concert Breeze before and after furniture was placed into the room. For those wanting more bass, we would recommend using a small subwoofer to complement the Concert Breeze. We measured a significant drop in bass response below 120Hz using a pink noise generator and a Sencore SP295 Sound Analyzer.
The Concert Breeze™ is the first and only fan-sound system that blends the cool comfort of moving air with integrated wireless audio. The product is a great way to get sound into a room without having to wire in any special speakers. In addition, there are no unsightly cabinets or in-wall speakers needed with this system. Simply install the ceiling fan and plug in the Soundolier audio transmitter to your favorite music source and you will instantly have sound in the room. The transmitter is flexible and accommodates line level and speaker level outputs. Either way you will get sound into the room from a convenient overhead location, fully controlled by the remote. This is one of the best ideas we have seen and it works great.