|SAS 770 Checkpoint 3D Speaker Alignment Tool|
|Home Theater Accessories Accessories|
|Written by Kim Wilson|
|Friday, 01 May 1998|
Sound Alignment Systems has developed the easiest and most intuitive instrument for hassle-free speaker alignment ever devised. A laser is placed inside a precision-machined aluminum housing, allowing an installer (or home enthusiast) a method for determining the optimum loudspeaker placement in a matter of minutes. This handy instrument has taken the trial and error out of speaker alignment for home theaters.
In addition to the laser tool itself, SAS provides several optional accessories to assist in various alignment tasks. The R2-D2 Tripod Rotary Base is used to set the angular alignment of any speaker or component in relation to another object or room position. Base plates can be attached to the speaker baffle so the 770 can be fitted flush to the speaker for hands free operation. The lens kit includes a line lens, beam splitter, adapter base and protractor plate for specialized alignment procedures.
An alignment switch is supplied with the 770 and it is attached to the bottom of the laser tool. Turning the switch clockwise turns on the laser, projecting an invisible beam that rests on any object as a bright red dot. (The laser beam is harmless, just be sure not to point the beam at anyone's eyes.) With the laser "on", place the flat bottom of the alignment switch against the speaker baffle, as close to a center location as possible. Holding the laser tool in place, move or toe-in the speaker until the red dot lands on the desired listening position.
Having spent several long hours listening to my reference Genesis APM-1 and 700 loudspeakers I was confident that I'd placed them in the best possible position for optimum imaging. To say I was astonished after realigning them with the 770 laser tool would be an understatement. I was thoroughly shocked. Imaging was tighter, more focused, and the improved bass resolution was palpable. The APM-1's were more engaging than ever and the center channel speakers needed to be tipped downward a few more degrees to further improve vocal clarity and intelligibility. It even helped find a more ideal angle for the rear speakers, increasing the sensation of envelopment.
SAS recommends using a base plate that allows the 770-laser tool to be flush mounted against the speaker's baffle with the use of the optional magnetic switch. While this allows movement of the speaker without holding the 770 in place with one hand, it does mean using screws to permanently mount the base plate. (As a reviewer of many speaker products, I'm sure the manufacturers would frown on me poking holes in their sample units.) SAS is making agreements with speaker manufacturers to provide base plates on new products, allowing installers, home enthusiasts, and even reviewers a convenient way to attach the laser tool for fast adjustments. If there are no restrictions for mounting a base plate in your situation, it's a simple task and it won't harm the sonic resonance of the speaker.
While it's possible to simply use the 770 to align your speakers to the listening position and radically improve sonic performance, the complete SAS system can assist an installer in many other complex and intricate alignment procedures. For instance, attaching the laser tool to the R2-D2 rotary plate and setting it on top of a speaker or subwoofer enclosure provides a visual means to check your speaker's stability. You can watch the laser dot's movement against a target location with the system in operation at various volume levels. The beam splitter allows the laser pointer to align any two objects perpendicular to each other. The line lens projects a straight line, depicting the sound projection from a given speaker for diagnosis of the sound as it follows the room's contours. Reflective or hollow spaces that may affect sound quality are easily discovered. The complete kit comes with angle layout guides to chart and plot speaker placement.
The $190 professional version of the 770 comes in a padded belt case for safe portability, a standard alignment switch plus a detachable bullseye level and a glass vial level that is built into the unit. (The standard version is $160.) The lens kit will run an extra $167 and the rotary base is $150. Base plates are $17 a piece and magnetic alignment switches run $29 a piece.
For professionals and serious home theater buffs this product is truly invaluable, ensuring proper speaker positioning without the hassle or guess work. I know for some of you, the tweaking process is all part of the audiophile mystique. However, you might be as surprised as I was to learn that even after hours of listening and slight movements here and there, you could still be off the mark. This simple little tool makes the set-up process far less tedious, allowing you to get down to some serious listening in no time.