|RBH WM-24 On-wall Speakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers On-wall Loudspeakers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 01 November 2005|
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As plasma and LCD TVs continue to sell at blistering rates, speaker manufacturers have quickly become aware that the demand for thin wall-mount “plasma friendly” speakers has never been higher. Having recently upgraded my TV to a 61-inch rear projection set that is mounted flush into a wall in my living room, it was obvious that my floor-standing speakers were not going to work optimally with this set-up. With my smaller CRT television, I was able to set floor-standing speakers on each side of the set, with the center channel directly on top. This meant that the speakers and the screen were all the same distance away from the main seating position. With the TV now flush with the wall, I needed to find a solution that would still give me the big sound that I have become accustomed to, yet could be mounted as close to the TV screen as possible and give me back precious floor space.
In my particular case, behind the walls on each side of my TV are pipes for my gas fireplace and some water pipes, so I could not cut out spaces for in-wall speakers. This said, I opted for speakers of the on-wall variety. The new WM-24 from Utah-based speaker manufacturer RBH Sound quickly became the target of my desire. At a glance, these seemed like a perfect solution, as they only require a total of four screw holes in my wall and their narrow dimension of 7.125 inches wide was a perfect fit for my room. These magnetically shielded 9.5-pound speakers are literally only 3.75 inches deep and 24 inches tall. The brushed aluminum finish on the speakers is modern, yet has a slightly retro feel with its rounded edges, almost reminiscent of a stretched limo version of a classic Airstream trailer. Plastic end caps on the top and bottom of the speakers merge seamlessly with the aluminum on the back and sides. The front of the speakers have a high quality black plastic composite material that houses four four-inch drivers and a one-inch silk dome tweeter. The woofers are made of a stylish sleek aluminum material and unlike many drivers, the center of the RBHs are inverted. The inverted dust cap used in RBH metal cone drivers provides additional structural support to the metal cone in a manner that shifts the primary breakup mode of the cone higher in frequency as well as reducing the amplitude of the mode.
For the 5.1 system in my theater, I had previously installed RBH’s MC615-70 speakers in the ceiling for rear channels. I placed a magnetically shielded RBH MC-414C on the shelf above my TV and then mounted a WM-24 on either side of my TV. Revel’s new, more affordable B12 subwoofer rounded out this tight little home theater speaker system. The WM-24 is a very versatile speaker that can be used for left and right speakers, as in my system, or a third could be added and used as a center channel if mounted horizontally above or below the monitor. A fourth and fifth WM-24 could easily be mounted on the back or side walls of a room to make a complete surround system. For this reason, RBH has priced them individually. The retail price of the WM-24 is $449, allowing you to put a pair of them on your wall for well under $1,000; a 5.1 set-up (minus a subwoofer) would be less than $2,300.
To maximize the number of rooms that the WM-24 will work in cosmetically, RBH smartly chose to include two sets of grille cloths, black and silver. Both are elegant and small enough that the unused pair can be stored away. Should the cat scratch one or a belt buckle get caught on one of them when trying to hang a picture above the TV, it’s nice to know you have a set of spare grilles included with your speakers.
I was concerned that, by being mounted to the wall, the brackets were going to turn my entire living room into a speaker by vibrating the walls. However, at full volume, with my subwoofer turned off for this experiment’s sake, the wall where the speakers were mounted was not vibrating at any noticeable level to the touch. Foam washers stuck to the back of the metal brackets help isolate the speaker bracket from the wall. I also noticed that the cabinet of the speakers was remarkably inert, allowing the woofers to fire cleanly away from the wall.
Installing the WM-24 was a very simple process. Each speaker comes with a foot-long aluminum bracket, this bracket is bolted to the wall once you know where you want the speaker to sit. I highly recommend using a laser level and a tape measure to get exact measurements on placement, as nothing looks funkier than a pair of speakers running vertically on each side of your TV with one of them higher or lower or off-kilter from the TV. The fact that there is a large rectangle between the speakers is going to visually amplify your miscalculations if you don’t have things lined up perfectly.
Two little pieces of metal that look like small cupboard doorknobs screw onto the back of the speakers. These little knobs slide into place on the aluminum bracket and firmly hold the speakers in place, but with a firm tap upward on the bottom end of the speaker, you can slide the speaker out of place should you need to remove it for some reason.
The back side of the speaker has small but nicely crafted silver speaker mounts in a round recessed panel. They easily accommodated the banana plugs I had on the end of my XLO speaker cable wire and would accept fairly fat bare wire as well. Large speaker cable ends like those found on high end cables like Transparent would have a hard time fitting in this space, so as long as you don’t have the largest terminations on the end of your speaker wires you shouldn’t have any problem getting them to work with your system. I recommend pulling the wire through the bracket and mounting it to the back of the speaker first, as it becomes basically impossible to get to the speaker lugs once they are attached to the brackets.