speakers have a tough time meeting the demands of critical listeners largely because
the listening environment can be unpredictable. In addition, outdoor speakers
require a robust design to survive the effects of the sun, varying humidity, and
in many cases extreme temperature changes. The folks at Phase Technology have
introduced the Solaris SPF-35 outdoor speakers that are designed to not only survive
the elements, but also sound great. The speakers use an SPF high-density resin
enclosure that is a paintable, UV-resistant, composite enclosure which can be
matched to any decor. The speakers are available in either black or white
for those whose prefer a factory color. The design includes water-tight fittings,
a polypropylene woofer and a powder-coated aluminum grille, enabling the speakers
to withstand nature's fury. The exposed hardware is stainless steel or brass and
the binding posts have gold over brass to prevent corrosion. All this leads to
a product that is designed to last.
SPF-35 speakers come with a set of C-clamps that are designed to mount to a flat
surface and attach at both ends of the speaker with adjustable knobs. This allows
the speaker to pivot on the mounting axis for an optimal listening angle directed
towards the listener. The speakers also include a set of pre-threaded inserts
imbedded in the housing that make them compatible with a wide variety of standard
swivel mounts. For our installation, we used the C-clamps that came with the speakers
and mounted them under the eaves of our roof to minimize direct exposure to rain
and the sun.
Our speakers were wired using a pair of 14-gauge Tributaries
speaker cables coming directly from our Sonos ZP100 Zone Player. The ZP100 is
capable of 50 watts per channel and in this application these speakers were a
nice match. The SPF-35 terminals include 5-way binding posts with great build
quality and gives the user flexible wiring options. When possible, I like to use
banana plugs instead of stripped wire for a solid connection that is easy to disconnect
when needed. The terminals on these speakers allowed me to do this. The screw-down
knobs are made of metal instead of cheap plastic.
Solaris SPF-35 speakers are rated at 8 ohms impedance. We measured the impedance
of the speakers to get a better idea of what the connected amplifier might encounter.
Like many speakers, the impedance of the SPF-35 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 34.5 ohms at 2 kHz and a minimum of 5 ohms at 160 Hz. Average impedance
below 1kHz was about 7 ohms and above 1 kHz was about 17 ohms. Our Sonos Digital
Music system used to drive the speakers sounded excellent with these speakers
and had no problem driving them at reasonably loud listening levels.
response was good with significant bass extending below 50 Hz with a slight increase
in the output level (bass bump) around 100Hz. Beyond that, the speaker has a fairly
flat response out to 20 kHz with a slight dip round 1-2 kHz. This somewhat coincides
with the increase in impedance at these frequencies.
The Solaris SPF-35 speakers features a 1" titanium dome tweeter
and 6.5" mineral-filled polypropylene woofer,
pefect for outdoor applications. The speakers delivers impressive sound quality
and exhibits smooth off-axis performance thanks to the Absolute Phase crossover
design. We encountered very pleasing sound virtually anywhere we sat around the
speakers. This is an important attribute when it comes to outdoor applications
since those listening to the music are rarely in one place the entire time.
to outlast the elements, the Solaris SPF-35 features a 1" titanium dome tweeter
and 6.5" mineral-filled polypropylene cone. With adjustable C-clamps and
mounting hardware, and inserts for standard OmniMount brackets, the SPF-35
can easily be installed indoors and out.
Phase Technology has engineered an excellent outdoor speaker balancing sound quality,
build quality, and cost. While the SPF-35 speakers are designed to withstand the
elements outdoors, they also sound great as an indoor speaker and offer good
looks in a lightweight enclosure weighing only 8.5 pounds. Outdoor patios
benefit where conventional loudspeakers may not fair well. Our installation used
the Sonos Music System as a source with the internal 50W per channel amplifiers
and the sound was fantastic. We played a variety of music through the speakers
and were quite impressed with the sound quality. Bass extension was quite good
with the larger 6.5" drivers especially when compared to some of the other
outdoor speakers we have used in the past. The crossover design in the speaker
allows consistant sound quality regardless of the angle from the front baffle
(no lobing). These new outdoor speakers are the best we have heard in our patio
and they are here to stay.