|PSB CW800E In-wall Speakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers In-wall Loudspeakers|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Wednesday, 01 November 2006|
Page 1 of 3
There have been many challenges in rebuilding the AVRev.com reference theater (which I have previously written about and archived for Modern Home Theater how-to features, with more details to come). One of the challenges not discussed is what I was going to do with the living room where my former reference system lived. Removing the large equipment rack thankfully created more space that allowed for the sleek installation of a lightly tinted glass wall. Removal of the floor-to-ceiling, bird’s-eye maple media storage cabinet that housed my Stewart roll-down screen also opened up some serious space. The design challenge was unique, considering the entryway to the new theater, as well as the stairs leading to the new addition, is exactly where my Wilson WATT Puppy right speaker used to be placed – how could you get great sound in a room or, in this case, a series of rooms, including the living room, dining room and much-used kitchen, without placing more big high-end speakers somewhere and having to create another high-end audio system?
Roll the tape forward to the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show and a visit to Lenbrook (the parent company of NAD and PSB) at a private suite at the Hard Rock Hotel. The Lenbrook boys, led by Mark Stone, were showing an in-wall version of their top-of-the-line floor-standing speaker. The unit they demoed is the CW800E and make no mistake – these suckers are for real. Sized at 38.5 inches tall by 14 inches wide and an amazingly shallow 3.75 inches deep, they are designed to be a high-end, audiophile-grade speaker that lives in the drywall, not on the carpet. Compounding my personal need for the speakers was the addition of a complementary in-wall subwoofer called the CWS8, which is a dual eight-inch sub that also has a waif-like depth of less than four inches and houses two eight-inch drivers. I did a demo in the suite with a pretty complex installation for a hotel room and was floored. These were not some disposable in-wall speakers that custom installers just “throw into the wall” to boost their profit margin on a sale. With 30 minutes of listening under my belt, I knew these were speakers for people who sit down and listen. I needed them.
Finishing the Room – Installation
In working with Beverly Hills-based Simply Home Entertainment for the installation, we crafted a plan that would remove the media storage and screen in a soffit on what was once the front wall of the theater, replacing it with a 50-inch Panasonic Plasma HDTV that would be recessed into a newly-framed wall. The idea was to leave enough room for the plasma to breathe, but to flush the TV to the drywall. The PSB set-up in the drywall would be for music only. This decision was made mostly because of the way we use the house. Walking in from a hard day at the office, there was to be a Crestron keypad on the wall which would control the main system’s ReQuest F Series multi-zone music server with color touch screen access. Another handheld Crestron remote would be installed to run the music and the TV duties of the system. Combining the music and the TV sound playback was possible, but we found that it was pricey. The sub amp and the amp for the CW800Es would be installed in the room that would ultimately be the gym, which is right on the other side of the wall.
I can’t speak about the ease of installation of the speakers, since I wasn’t here when Simply Home’s Dave, Bruno and Ed were doing the job, but I can say it didn’t take them very long. They work with all sorts of in-wall speakers and commented to me later by email, as well as in person, on how thin the PSBs looked, yet how hefty they sounded. This was long before the room was finished. Another aspect of the installation that needs to be mentioned is Lenbrook’s spectacular customer service. My painter, who both Tim Duffy at Simply Home Entertainment and I use for all of our projects and homes, accidentally got paint on one of the CW800E’s grilles that didn’t come off easily. PSB, at no cost to me despite the problem being 100 percent my fault, overnighted me a new grille. When you have a crew on a job and the hours are multiplying, it is the small things like this that really add up. I was impressed with the level of customer attention and responsiveness I got from PSB.