Review (June 2008)
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.
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.
- Kevin Nakano
System : Sonos
Digital Music System with a ZP100 Zone Player
|Review - At a Glance|
Technology - CI-70 VIII In-Wall Systems
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
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