In-wall speakers have come a long way. They look great and can sound just as good as free-standing models. Still, if you look hard enough, they are noticeable. Some speaker manufacturers believe they can do better at blending speakers into the home decor—and they have, by creating models that are completely invisible.
One of the pioneers of the invisible speaker category is Sound Advance. The company’s flat-panel loudspeaker technology was acquired by Sonance a few years ago, giving Sonance an even broader lineup of speakers. The Sound Advance SA2C can be installed flush with the wall then covered with a vellum membrane that can be painted or wallpapered.
Amina Technologies offers options for rectangular in-wall speakers. AIW In-Wall Loudspeakers can be skimmed over with a plaster or drywall compound. Because they are completely sealed, they are suitable for wet areas like pools and bathrooms. And if the wall surface gets dirty, you can just wipe it without affecting the speakers. One of the features the company is most proud of, though, is the product’s 10-year warranty. “It’s hard to fix or repair something that’s been installed completely inside the wall, so backing up our speakers with a 10-year warranty was important,” says David Frey, director of marketing.
Using a completely different approach is Induction Dynamics. Instead of a speaker, the company uses a transducer to reproduce sound. About the diameter of a soda can, the SolidDrive transducer installs directly behind walls or any other solid surface (like glass). When it receives audio from a stereo system, it transmits acoustical energy through the surface, turning the entire surface into a speaker. The company admits that product is unlike other invisible in-wall speakers. The SolidDrive transducers are omnidirectional and intended to blanket a large area with sound, while most speakers are designed to direct their sound toward a certain area.
Moving on to a different product category—lighting. Keypads have been the defacto control standard, and manufacturers have continually tried to make the products blend in better with the wall surface. Many products can be painted and wallpapered over, and faceplates now come in a rainbow of colors to complement the room design. Unfortunately, these keypads still look like keypads. Anigmo has developed a keypad that looks more like a small decorative piece of wall art than something to control the lights with. Built behind the Anigmo wall plate is a proximity sensor. When you wave your hand over the wall plate, the sensor triggers the lights or motorized shades if you prefer. The lights can be dimmed and brightened to certain intensities by passing your hand over the wall plate, completely eliminating the need for buttons or switches. Banishing buttons is just one way Anigmo maintains the aesthetic appeal of a room. The wall plate that covers the sensor comes in a wide assortment of finishes and designs, from hand-made ceramic or glass tile, to polished hard wood or an original picture or photo.
Related article: 10 Speakers to be Heard, Not Seen
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.