is the new versatile compact speaker from Boston Acoustics® designed to work
in a wide range of applications. The speaker has a unique polyhedron (say what?)
shape and measures slightly larger than a 6-inch cube. The design utilizes a 4.5"
woofer and a 3/4" tweeter for full range music. Each speaker includes a pivoting
mounting bracket along with a pair of metal brackets for flush or corner wall
mounting. The SoundWare weighs just under 5 pounds and has a solid build quality
not commonly found on speakers with an MSRP under $100 (each). Packaging was excellent
with the speaker well protected and fitted in thick Styrofoam. These speakers
were developed with versatility in mind, allowing them to work in a variety of
installations including outdoor locations. They are made of weather-resistant
materials to withstand the elements, but not direct rain as they are not waterproof.
They are also designed to be paint-friendly if color matching is needed.
The SoundWare speakers are available in a variety of colors from
the manufacturer for those who prefer not to paint them. There are seven different
colors, including Black, White, Silver, Just Red, Bamboo, Natural and Espresso.
Most will find that one of these colors works for them even if it does not exactly
match the wall color. In fact, some of the speaker colors will compliment some
wall/room colors very nicely. We found that the small and unique size of the SoundWare
speakers make them visually subtle when mounted in the corners of the room. The
hardware included also makes it easier to properly place and adjust the speakers.
SoundWare speakers have several mounting options for the user with hardware provided
for both flush and corner mounting. A Pivoting Ball Mount arm held down
by four flathead machine screws allows the speaker to be tilted down up to 40°
and side to side up to ±20°. The wall plate requires the user to get
the appropriate wall mounting screws. They are not included with the speakers
since there are so many different surfaces/walls that the wall plate may be mounted
to. Keep in mind that the speakers are heavy enough to pull through drywall if
the appropriate hardware is not used. In California, earthquakes can help contribute
to this problem, so it is always best to find a stud to fasten to when mounting
items on the wall. Once the wall plate is installed, the rounded end of the pivoting
arm is placed into the slotted hole of the wall plate. The pivoting arm on the
speaker then slides down to lock in place. A lock screw is provided to keep the
speaker from moving. Once installed, the speaker can be positioned for optimal
sound quality. The pivot set screw located on the swivel plate keeps the speaker
from moving once the speaker is positioned.
SoundWare speakers were connected to a Sonos Music System and installed
in our outdoor patio. Our music system uses 14-gauge Tributaries wire to
route the audio since some of the wire runs are quite far from the source. Boston
Acoustics recommends 16 gauge wire for runs up to 20 feet or so. For run up to
50 feet they recommend going to 14 gauge wire. Much longer, and they recommend
using 12 gauge wire. Installing the wires is easy. Simply push down on the top
of the spring-loaded terminal and insert the wire. When released, the spring pinches
the wire and a solid connection is made. A channel on the back of the speaker
holds the wire in place and neatly keeps it in place.
No review would be complete without some measurements of the
frequency response. The SoundWare speakers have a full range response with the
low end dropping off near 90Hz due to the limited size of the bass driver. The
sealer-box design has a gradual roll-off, so there is significant bass below this
stated cutoff frequency of 90Hz, yet we did confirm this to be the lower end.
The upper end of the frequency response started to drop out around 18kHz, yet
according to my seven year-old daughter, the speakers delivered sound up to 22kHz.
More interesting was the notch in the frequency response at 2500Hz. The Sencore
SoundPro Analyzer showed that this speaker had a significant drop in output near
this frequency. Both speakers we received had this same response, so we cannot
say that it was a sample defect. Regardless, it was not a noticeable problem in
my listening tests, nor did it appear to compromise the sound quality.
We measured the input impedance of the SoundWare speakers to get a better idea
what a budget amplifier might encounter when driving these speakers, which are
rated at 8 ohms nominal impedance. Like many speakers, the impedance 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 18.8 ohms at 125 Hertz and a minimum of 4 ohms at 20 Hz.
Average impedance was somewhere between 7 and 8 ohms and concurs with the nominal
impedance rating of 8 ohms. The manufacturer specifies the speakers to have a
sensitivity of 87dB (1 watt (2.83v) at 1m). Our Sonos Digital Music system sounded
great with these speakers and had no problem driving them.
The Boston Acoustics® SoundWare speakers offer a quality product at a very
reasonable price. Sonically, the speakers performed well and had a good frequency
range, yet the small size will limit bass response. They are designed to mount
easily and fit in with modern decor with their paint-friendly surface and ample
number of factory available colors. While our test placed the speakers outdoors
under the eves, they could easily be placed in virtually any location with similar
results. These are some of the most versatile speakers we have ever reviewed and
the build quality makes them worth every penny.