Product Review (July 2008) - Niles Audio
PS6Si Round Stereo Planter Speaker

By Kevin Nakano


Here in Southern California we spend a lot of time outdoors thanks to great weather. Making the outdoors more enjoyable has been a focus of many homeowners who want to improve their backyards and adding music to the surroundings is often on the list. However, placing speakers in a setting with greenery and not making it look out of place can be challenging. Niles Audio has a clever solution with the introduction of the new PS6si Indoor/Outdoor Planter Speaker. The PS6si is a large 10 gallon capacity planter that also serves as a stereo loudspeaker. The PS6si stands 19" tall and measures 19" in diameter at the top. The PS6si is solid and weighes 26 pounds when empty (35 pounds shipped). The sturdy design can easily handle a plant or small tree making the environment look good while covertly placing sound in the area. The PS6Si is available in terracotta or concrete finish to match your outdoor colors. The acoustically transparent vents at the base of the planter let the sound out, but keep the bugs in check.

Speaker Configuration
The PS6Si has a downward firing driver (proprietary, 6.5" dual voice coil woofer) and two 1" fluid-cooled Tetron tweeters that are mounted on opposite sides of the base, angled slightly upwards to provide a stereo soundstage. The bass driver is in a sealed (Acoustic Suspension) enclosure. Each channel has its own crossover circuitry and the dual voice coil electrically isolates the two channels from each other. Signal polarity is very important especially since a single driver is used for bass. Miswiring the speakers could cause complete bass cancellation. The PS6Si is designed to handle the harshest of environments and is made of fiberglass and protected with UV-resistant paint. The 10-gallon capacity provides a lot of volume for plants or small trees. Three drainage holes allows for water to exit the container. Sound exits the base through a set of four acoustically transparent MicroPerf™ aluminum grilles designed to keep the bugs out while looking great.

The Niles PS6si can be configured in stereo for two channel reproduction or as a single mono speaker where two units would be required for stereo sound. Since we only had one PS6Si speaker on hand, we configured it to accept two channel audio. When configuring the speaker for mono, the impedance is reduced to 4 ohms. This needs to be considered when choosing an amplifier to drive the speakers since many amplifiers have difficulty driving low impedances. There is one aspect of the PS6Si that is not obvious in the stock photo, so I took a picture to point it out. While the tweeters come from the factory 180 degrees apart, there are some applications where one might want to place the planter in a corner. This would prevent good high frequecy dispersion with the factory tweeter placement. Niles provides a secondary tweeter positioned between the two mounted speakers (90 degrees from either speaker) to accommodate this type of installation. By simply moving the tweeter to the spare location, the user can have better sound quality from their PS6Si. This is an excellent design that was not mentioned in the literature. Hopefully, customers take advantage of this opton.

Impedance
The PS6Si has a nominal impedance rating of 8 ohms per input channel. We measured the impedance of the speaker to get a better idea of what the connected amplifier might encounter. Like many speakers, the impedance of the PS6Si varies significantly as a function of frequency. Using a 1/3 octave sweep on our Sencore SP295 Audio Analyzer, we found typical peaks and valleys in the impedance spectrum. We measured a maximum impedance of 27.6 ohms at 63Hz and a minimum of 6.5 ohms at 10kHz. Our Sonos Digital Music system which is rated at 50W per channel had no problem driving this speaker to reasonably loud listening levels. Slightly higher levels could have been obtained using a 100W per channel amplifier, but for us the Sonos provided plenty of power.

The PS6Si produced a substantial amount of low frequency response with the dual-coil 6.5" bass driver. We measured significant bass output below 50 Hz with a gradual roll-off as the frequency dropped. The sealed (acoustic suspension) design of the PS6Si has many advantages over ported enclosures including a more gradual roll-off of the bass frequencies (approximately 12dB/ocave) and better overall transient response.

Performance
Niles recommends using a 10 to 100 Watts RMS amplifier per channel. In our case we used a Sonos ZP100 Digital Music Player that provides 50W RMS per channel. This gave us adequate power output with good volume and headroom. The sound quality from the Niles PS6Si is amazingly good for an outdoor speaker considering the environment is often difficult to control. We have a good level of background noise due to a somewhat busy street located near us and the PS6Si helped to dilute the unpleasant sounding noise floor. Playing music through the planter produced great sounding midrange with clean bass. High frequencies were a bit attenuated depending on the listening angle, but overall produced crisp sound without any harshness. The audio level was great for our backyard with plenty of loudness. Depending on the installation, Niles provides a couple of options for the tweeter configuration that helps improve the sound quality.

Conclusion
The Niles PS6Si is a great addition to a patio or deck where high quality music is desired without the intrusive looks of ugly speakers. The planter speaker serves dual purposes and blends nicely into the scenery. The weatherproof design will provides years of reliable music while looking great with a live plant and is built to last. Separate left and right inputs provide stereo sound in a single enclosure. The dual 1" tri-laminate tweeters and 6-1/2" dual voice coil injection-molded polypropylene woofer with butyl rubber surround will not deteriorate quickly like most cheap speakers and are designed to handle up to 100 watts per input channel. Even the dual 3-foot burial-rated speaker cables with waterproof wire nuts are built to last and with a lifetime warranty Niles backs their design.

- Kevin Nakano





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Review - At a Glance


Niles Audio - PS6Si Round Stereo Planter Speaker


Features

  • Artistically Crafted Cabinet With Shaped MicroPerf Aluminum Grilles Look Natural And Realistic
  • 6.5" Dual Voice Coil Injection-molded TCC (talc, Carbon, And Ceramic) Filled Polypropylene Woofer With Butyl Rubber Surround
  • Dual 1" Fluid-cooled Tri-laminate Teteron Tweeters Mounted At A Custom Angle For Optimum Dispersion
  • Separate Left And Right Channel Inputs Provide Stereo Sound In A Single Loudspeaker
  • Weatherproof Design Ensures Performance Outdoors
  • Designed To Accommodate Live Plants
  • Dual 3-foot Burial-rated Connection Cables With Waterproof Wire-nuts To Insure Trouble Free Connection
  • Can Be Wired In One-speaker Stereo-input Mode Or Two-speaker Stereo Mode
Specifications
  • Dimensions: 19 1/2" W X 19 1/2" H X 19 1/2" D
  • Shipping Weight: 35 Lbs. (15.9 Kgs)
Warranty
  • Lifetime Limited Warranty
Product Manual
Specifications Sheet


Company Information
Corporate Offices
Niles Audio Corporation
12331 S.W. 130 Street, Miami, FL 33186
Phone (305) 238-4373
Fax (305) 238-0185

Source: Manufacturer Supplied
MSRP: $399.95
Stock Number FG01366
Color: Weathered Concrete

URL: www.nilesaudio.com

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