While advances in speakers have made them smaller, thinner, wireless and more powerful, especially when we’re talking about the newest soundbar or soundbase technology, you may still want to hide your new media room speaker out of sight.
Traditional in-wall speakers are fairly easy to discreetly mount (especially if you paint the grill) and there are also speakers that can completely disappear in the wall by, in effect, becoming part of the wall, but those can be more expensive, and more work than many people want to put into their media room project.
Just as a soundbar or soundbase is a problem-solving and space-solving speaker, there are products that can make them even more décor-friendly. Here are a few ideas. If you have others, let me know in the comments section.
Here’s a genious idea that I can’t believe no one thought of earlier. Bello is known mostly for home theater TV stands, audio racks and A/V accessories (and some pretty good headphones too), but this year Bello entered the soundbar market with the Sound Shelf. A Sound Shelf is a shelf with a soundbar built into it. Because it’s a 12-inch deep shelf (so you can put a game console or Blu-ray player on it), it’s large enough to offer a good sound cavity. They come in 40, 50 and 60-inch widths to match most flat panel TVs and include Bluetooth for wireless streaming from your smart phone. They come in a dark espresso wood finish. Prices are $289, $329 $349.
This isn’t exactly a soundbar, it’s more like sound furniture (yes, I invented that term), but Dayton Audio calls it the AST1200. Built into a typical-looking TV stand is a 3.1 audio system. The main speakers include six 3-inch woofers and three soft-dome tweeters. Bass is handled by a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer that’s ported directly underneath the top shelf. All connection are made around back. The bottom shelf can accommodate your cable box and Blu-ray player. SRS surround technology is included to give the sound a big 360-degree feel. A fabric grill is included to hide the speakers. The suggested list price is $399, but you can find it for $199. Electronic House is going to review the product, so check back for that.
Here’s another TV stand, but this one doesn’t come with the speakers built-in. BDI’s Braden has a wide speaker shelf that can accommodate most any soundbar or sound base, so you’re not restricted by brand. It includes hidden wheels and integrated levelers. Behind the IR-friendly glass doors you can hide your other TV components. $1,749
Soundbars are usually meant to be mounted on a wall, not into one, but the Niles Cynema Soundfied is different. The Niles speaker solves several problems. First, it’s deeper than most on-wall soundbars, which makes it acoustically superior. Second, the design is flexible to allow for various wall stud configurations and to make sure the product fits perfectly. It comes in both active powered and unpowered options, from 48- to 65-inches. The Niles Cynena Soundfield requires professional installation. Once the speaker is covered with a painted grill, it’s almost invisible.
Here’s an installation video of the Niles Cynema Soundfield: