Manufacturers Innovate to Breathe New Life Into a Familiar Product Category
JBL Commercial Series
During the torrent of economic unrest we’re continuing to endure, tight client budgets demand lowcost installations. More than ever, systems integrators are being challenged to keep overhead low while keeping quality high. With new innovations in ceiling speakers, what if the secret to keeping overhead low lies… overhead?
The ceiling speakers category offers integrators more than just a clever play on words to keep business humming and customers satisfied. Reading the economic tealeaves, well-respected manufacturers have begun to introduce high-quality speakers at relatively low prices.
“JBL has been expanding into the area of more cost-effective speakers,” explained Rick Kamlet, senior marketing manager of installed sound at JBL Professional. “The market has seen an increase in demand for lower-priced speakers, particularly due to the challenges of the current economy. We started responding a couple of years ago when we introduced the 8124 and 8128 dual-cone open-back speakers for applications where a back-can is not required, and then we expanded that line the following year to include the 8138, adding a package that works with a pre-installed back-can. This past year we introduced an even more cost-effective line, the CSS Commercial Series Sepeakers—CSS8004, 8008, and 8018—for the contractor’s most cost-effective projects.
“Offering speakers that are less expensive,” added Kamlet, “makes it affordable for customers to use our speakers even in projects that wouldn’t have ordinarily have had a budget to afford our previous JBL ceiling speakers.
Graham Hendry, business development director at Tannoy, shared this sentiment. “The integrator has a reputation to uphold, and moving from his heritage in using a premium and well respected brand to suddenly changing to a lesser performing brand, albeit less expensive, may not help uphold that good reputation. Being realistic and in times of recession, premium products will see less growth or a decline in sales. There will always be demand for premium installations, but that is not necessarily the area of growth at the moment.
“In 2009 we introduced the CVS range,” continued Hendry, “‘V’ standing for value. With Tannoy being regarded as the premium ceiling speaker brand in both small and large format applications, there was a concern that the economic downturn would push integrators towards inferior performing, cheaper solutions, and in cases where larger projects were already specified, the client would be pushing for ‘value engineered’ solutions also.
“The Tannoy CVS range has been designed to deliver the best possible performance to price balance,” Hendry explained. “Packed with C-ring and tile bridge, and fully supported with industry standard certifications, including UL -1480, UL -2043, and CE, they are specifically designed for all applications requiring the combination of excellent sonic quality for music and speech reinforcement, and exceptional reliability.”
Some manufacturers are viewing cost savings through a different lens. Atlas Sound’s vice president of sales and marketing, Steve Young, said the manufacturer has been concentrating on ease of installation to ensure the most efficient use of their dealers’ labor force. “Many of our products, including the Atlas DT12 1-foot x 2-foot drop-in tile replacement speaker, address this by allowing ultra-quick installation in mineral tile ceilings by simply scoring and splitting the tile and replacing the cut section with a DT12 in the ceiling grid.”
Cost savings aside, what’s new in this stand-by product category? “Our most recent additions to the AcousticDesign Ceiling Mount lineup are the AD-C820 and the AD-C821,” said QSC’s product manager, Phil Sanchez. “These models are designed for applications that require higher output combined with increased sonic performance. The AD-C820 is an 8-inch two-way loudspeaker package with a preinstalled back-can making it ideal for new construction installations. The AD-C821 is the same 8-inch two-way loudspeaker system with an integrated back-can, ideal for blind-mount installations or applications that require a quick installation solution.”
At JBL, they’ve been focusing on developing new speakers with cutting edge pattern control and performance. “We’ve been moving upward into medium-format and large-format ceiling speakers,” said JBL’s Kamlet, “utilizing compression drivers instead of tweeters, incorporating higher power, reinforced-cone low-frequency drivers, performance-grade crossover networks, and through-the-polepiece/ curved-cone waveguides for extended pattern control and more consistent coverage.
“A good example of adding new technology into ceiling speakers are the Control 47C/T, 47LP, and 47HC small-format ceiling speakers that were recently introduced,” added Kamlet. “This series incorporates RBI Radiation Boundary Integration technology, which was originally developed for our high-end VerTec concert-level line array speakers. RBI provides a very large waveguide for the ceiling speakers’ high frequency driver to both prevent undesirable beaming of the high frequencies and extend pattern control all the way down to the crossover frequency, and the low-frequency sound gets projected through special apertures in the HF waveguide. The size, shape and overall diameter of the layout of the apertures affects the dispersion of the low frequencies, which in turn extends the pattern control down well below the crossover frequency. The result is true coaxial performance and improved evenness of coverage over a broad range of frequencies. This provides all listeners with the same frequency response, which is unfortunately not the case with traditional ceiling speakers. It provides improved summation at the seams between speakers, and it allows fewer speakers to cover a space while at the same time providing better coverage of the listening space.”
So what are the emerging venues and industries that these new ceiling speakers might be used in? “Healthcare and education continue to be growing opportunities as customer and user expectations increase,” explained QSC’s Sanchez. “As technology rapidly integrates into the classroom, the need to improve AV support infrastructure for the education market continues to grow; and for the same reason, corporate AV , particularly boardrooms, are also seeing a significant increase in need for superior audio systems.”
Chuck Ansbacher is the managing editor of SCN.
Bose Virtually Invisible 791
Designed for pro installers and DIY-ers, the 791 speakers are an easy-install inceiling audio solution. Each 791 combines a seven-inch woofer and two tweeters. This allows for even sound distribution and helps to eliminate harsh high frequencies—bright spots—according to Bose. Four clamps are used for installation to secure each speaker. A small, molded arrow on the frame designates correct orientation while twisting the grille snaps it into place.
JBL Commercial Series
The Commercial Series ceiling speakers from JBL Professional are highly sensitive and provide full sound level at low tap settings. Triple-voltage transformers fit any distributed speaker system. The drivers all feature a one-inch diameter voice coil with a Kapton coil-former and high-temperature wire to improve power dissipation and extended reliability. The driver, grille, and transformer come preassembled. Each of the three models comes with zinc-plated, powdercoated steel installation accessories.
Extron SoundField SF 228T
The Extron SoundField SF 228T is a two-way ceiling tile speaker for low impedance and 70 volt/100 volt systems. This Extron design features a low profile, two-foot by two-foot by 5.3-inch deep enclosure that is UL 2043 plenum rated, weighs less than 20 pounds, and drops directly into standard suspended ceilings for quicker installations. The two-way ported design includes an eight-inch woofer and a one-inch silk dome tweeter that provides a frequency response of 50 hertz to 20 kilohertz for high fidelity music and speech reproduction. The SF 228T offers 60 watts continuous pink noise and 120 watts continuous program output. This speaker is sold in pairs and is designed for fast installation into sound systems requiring high quality, wide bandwidth audio playback.
Tannoy OCV Series
The OCV Series open ceiling, hanging-pendant loudspeakers from Tannoy are housed in an architecturally sensitive, self-contained, lightweight cylindrical enclosure. The speakers were engineered for applications where predictable, high quality audio coverage is needed in high or open-ceilinged spaces. The cylindrical form-factor was designed to meet architectural sector demands by minimizing impact on aesthetics and allowing systems contractors to locate loudspeakers discretely, at a requested height regardless of ceiling height and without interfering with other suspended systems, such as lighting and ventilation. The OCV Series was also designed to meet demand for a pendant style loudspeaker delivering competitive performance at a competitive price.
SoundTube CM-BGM Series
SoundTube designed the CM-BGM series ceiling speakers specifically for background music applications by featuring high bass response and BroadBeam Ring technology for offaxis performance. A 16-ohm input impedance allows integrators to run multiple speakers in parallel operation in a single zone. Up to eight speakers can be operated in stereo or four speakers can be run in mono at four ohms without low impedance issues. A tuned port on the speaker baffle enhances musicality and bass response down to 55 hertz. The CM52s-BGM fits spaces as shallow as 3.5 inches.
AcousticDesign in-ceiling loudspeakers (AD-C) are appropriate for a range of installed sound applications, including restaurants, retail, hospitality, boardrooms, churches, and transportation. These loudspeakers deliver accurate high fidelity sound for foreground/background music and paging systems alike. Easily painted to match any décor, AD-C models range from a small format four-inch, two-way up to a high-powered, high-impact 12-inch model. With its shallow depth, the AD-CI52ST is appropriate for installations with limited mounting space.
Kramer SPK-CCF848 PRO and SPK-CCF848 EDU
The SPK-CCF848 equal sound dispersion- ceiling speaker is available in PRO and EDU versions, for the professional and education markets, respectively. There are eight configurations of stereo or mono, full-tile or half-tile versions. The professional version is optimized for music and high quality voice reproduction while the education version is optimized for speech, with a bass port for a bass reflex effect. The SPKCCF848 speakers come in a 4-inch deep enclosure along with a grille resembling a suspended ceiling tile.
Lowell has developed a shallow version of its 8A50 speaker line in response to demand for high quality speakers that fit into small plenum. The 8A50 is an eight-inch, 50-watt coaxial speaker designed for sharp power handling, low distortion, and smooth musical sound for high quality music and paging in large venues. With a capacity for wide-angle sound distribution over a large area with uniform response and voice clarity, the 8A50 provides complete coverage with minimum units. The shallower model features a transformer mounting plate attached to the back plate, bringing the depth of assembly to 4.1 inches.
Yamaha VS Series
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems VS Series is available in two models: the VS6, with a 6.5-inch cone woofer to handle bottom end; and the VS4, with a four-inch woofer. Both models feature a one-inch balanced dome tweeter for clarity at higher frequencies. The surface mount speakers meet IEC60529 IPX3 rating requirements with water-resistant enclosures and transducers. Internally mounted transformers allow the speakers to operate in 70-volt or 100-volt distributed sound systems. The VS6 and VS6W have a nominal impedance of eight ohms, frequency range of 80 hertz to 20 kilohertz, and a power rating of 25 watts and 50 watts, respectively. The Yamaha VS4 and VS4W also have nominal impedance of eight ohms with a frequency range of 100 hertz to 20 kilohertz and power rating of 15 watts and 30 watts, respectively.
Peavey PHR 860
The eight-inch PHR 860 metal can ceiling speakers are constructed from high-impact polystyrene with a back can of formed steel. Features include removable locking installation arms, a conduit-capable clamp for wiring, wiring chamber with screw lock, and perforated metal grille with inner fabric liner for blackout.
Atlas Sound FAP Series
The FAP Strategy II Series now offers the FAP42T, FAP62T, and FAP42TC in UL 2043-rated version. The UL 2043 standards is for loudspeakers used in air handling, plenum spaces, which are above drop ceilings and can be dangerous because fire, smoke, and other toxic fumes from damaged electronics can travel through a building’s HVAC systems. These models all feature high performance, wide dispersion, and easy installation. FAP42T-UL2043 and FAP62T-UL2043 are suited for applications with low ceilings because of their wide coverage pattern while the low profile FAP42TC-UL2043 features a shorter enclosure design when space is limited.
Polk Vanishing Series
The Vanishing in-ceiling models offer high coverage and impact from compact enclosures that install simply and indiscernibly into installations. The woofers are mounted to the back of the enclosures while the mid and high frequency drive units are mounted to the front baffle. The smaller, less directional front drivers are dedicated to reproducing only midrange and high range, so they offer more even frequency response to on or off axis locations. Polk’s sheer grille design measures just 0.6 millimeters in diameter. An oval woofer is mounted diagonally to the enclosure, effectively making the Vanishing Series speakers more compact. This design also allows the active drive units to fit into a smaller cutout size yet still achieve high bass performance.
OWI’s Tile Bridge and Back Can (TBBC) sets include three drop-ceiling 70-volt and 70-volt/100-volt model speakers with UL listed and plenumrated support truss and enclosures as complete acoustical ceiling mounting sets. The three speaker options offered in these TBBC sets include 5-inch, twoway, 4-watt and 10-watt models, along with a 6-inch, two-way, 10-watt offering. They are suitable for covered outdoor installation and include a paintable white aluminum grill.