Product Review (June 2008)
Phase Technology
CI-70 VIII In-Wall Speakers

By Kevin Nakano


The quality of in-wall speakers has received much attention over the years and some of the new models truly have impressive sound quality. Phase Technology's Custom Installation (CI) series of in-wall speakers is one of those lines, offering a wide range of models fitting every price point. We received a pair of the CI-70 VIII 3-way speakers that features a 7" woven glass fiber woofer with rubber surrounds, 1.5" soft-dome midrange, and a 1" variable-axis soft-dome tweeter. The tweeter is designed to pivot so that the high frequencies can be directed towards the listening area. This works well since high frequencies typically roll of rapidly as you get off-axis. Just below the tweeter is a 3-position switch that adjusts the high frequency level ±3dB. This gives the user some flexibility with the high frequency equalization. We used the center position during all of our testing. However, we did have the loudness setting ON with our Sonos Digital Music system which increases the bass at lower output levels. We were fortunate enough to have a set of Phase Technology CI series speakers installed, so upgrading to these higher-end models was easy. Let's find out why. So now it is time to tackle the installation of these new speakers.

Installation
The CI-70 VIII speakers use a two-piece system that allows the CI-FG/QM mount to be installed into the wall before the speaker baffle is attached. The design firmly attaches the speaker baffle to the frame. The CI-FG/QM mount (frame) is used with all of the CI series speakers and features a patented tool-free Quick Mount system that uses metal clips on each corner of the baffle, which lock the assembly into place. The design makes the installation easier to manage and avoids potential damage to the speakers during installation. There's nothing worse than slipping with the screwdriver and having it puncture the speaker drivers. This design not only makes it an easy and clean installation, but it allows the user to change between speaker models by using the same frame mounted in the wall. It took less than 20 minutes to replace our earlier CI-20 VII speakers with the new CI-70 VIII speakers. The mounting flange requires a cutout of 10.75" x 7.5" in the wall and can be mounted directly to drywall using the four dogleg clamps that automatically flip into position when the screws are tightened.

Our speakers were mounted horizontally, close to studs in the wall. Space was fairly tight, so we used screws to hold down the flange rather than the simple to use dogleg clamps. The speakers include a seal that attaches to the rim of the frame and provides both sound dampening as well as a seal for the speaker. The cavity where the speakers were being mounted had some fiberglass stuffed in it. However, we decided to add some more acoustic foam behind the baffle to help reduce any coloration to the sound.

The CI-70 VIII woofer has a large magnet designed with a high temperature voice coil for maximum performance and long term reliability. The passive crossover includes a variety of air and iron core inductors, capacitors, and power resistors all neatly laid out on the attached circuit board. An IR window is located near the midrange driver allowing the user to install an IR sensor if needed. The color of both the frame and the grill closely matched our wall color, allowing it to blend seamlessly into our decor. However, if you wish to match the speaker grill and frame exactly to the wall color, they can easily be painted. The gold-plated terminal posts located on the main crossover board assembly make it easy to attach the speaker wires. The spring-loaded and color-coded posts accept stripped wire that was firmly pinched when inserted. In our installation we used heavy 14-gauge Tributaries wire and the terminal post easily accommodated the large size. On the back of the speaker assembly, the woofer has an acoustically transparent material covering the openings of the basket to prevent debris from getting into the woofer cone area. This is a great idea that few in-wall speakers manufactures have used. The potential problem of buzzing debris is alleviated with this innovative design. This can be a potentially bigger problem with ceiling mounted speakers where gravity forces loose material directly onto the speaker assembly.

Performance
We listened to a variety of music through these speakers and even though the source material came from our Sonos Digital Music System the sound was excellent. These speakers have slightly larger drivers than the previous models (CI-20 VII) we reviewed and the bass response was noticeably better with these. The bedroom where these speakers are located is well damped with few reflective surfaces and a lot of sound absorbing furniture. The result was a nice sounding system with good detail. I liked the bass response from these speakers and never felt the need to have a separate subwoofer. However, Phase Technology does offer such a beast (IW 200) if deeper bass extension is desired in the form of an in-wall subwoofer. It is likely that the vast majority of customers would be quite satisfied with the sonic quality offered by the CI-70 VIII speakers. We certainly were.

Conclusion
The Phase Technology CI-70 VIII in-wall speakers have wonderful sonic capabilities and are well built to stand the test of time. Our Sonos music system was easily able to drive these gems at reasonably high listening levels with promising results. For those looking for a high quality in-wall speakers capable of reproducing their favorite music, the CI-70 VIII are a good choice. These aesthetically pleasing 3-way speakers are among the best sounding in-walls offered from Phase Technology and their performance reflects this. If you don't mind spending a little more for better sounding speakers, the Phase Technology CI-70 VIII in-wall speakers are the ones to get.

- Kevin Nakano





OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review System

Music System : Sonos Digital Music System with a ZP100 Zone Player
Cables: Tributaries 14-gauge wire


Review - At a Glance

Phase Technology - CI-70 VIII In-Wall Systems

CI-70 VIII Product Literature

CI-70 VIII Owner's Manual

CI-70VIII In-Wall Speaker
Specifications:
Tweeter

1" variable-axis soft-dome

Midrange

1.5" soft-dome midrange

Woofer

7" woven glass fiber

Frequency Response

35 - 22 Hz (± 3 dB)

Sensitivity

90 dB

Impedance

8 Ohms Nominal

Mounting Depth

3.5"

Recommended Amplifier Power15-200 Watts
Cutout Dimensions

10.75" (H) x 7.5" (W)

Outside Dimensions11.81" (H) x 8.625" (W)
Shipping Weight7 pounds


Company Information
Phase Technology Corporation
6400 Youngerman Circle
Jacksonville, FL 32244
Tel: 904 777 0700
Fax: 904 771 7793
Support: 888-742-7385

Source: Manufacture supplied
MSRP: $425 each

Warranty: Limited Lifetime

URL: www.phasetech.com

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