I continue my ongoing survey of inwall loudspeakers with models from Angstrom, Revel, and Bowers & Wilkins. All three—the Angstrom Ambienti AV-6.5, the B&W CWM LCR8 and the Revel I20, respectively—are open-back models with separate frames and baffles. The Angstroms and Revels are two-way speakers of similar size and appearance. The B&Ws are narrow two-and-a-half-way systems with midrange and bass drivers arrayed around a central tweeter. I installed each pair of speakers in 8 foot-tall stud bays—these are freestanding mockups of sections of wall as found in most North American homes. Made of 2x4-inch wood framing with 1/2-inch sheetrock on both sides, the bays are partially filled with fiberglass insulation. A length of Red Rose 336 speaker cable exits each for connection to a power amp—in my case, the Parasound Halo A51. My other electronics include a Parasound Halo C2 pre-amp/controller and an Integra DPC 8.5 universal disc changer. The Integra’s digital audio output feeds Perpetual Technologies P-1A/P- 3A outboard processors, and the P- 3A’s analog output feeds a Margules Audio Magenta ADE-24 harmonic sweetener. Cabling is a combination of Kimber Hero and Nordost Quattro-fil; power conditioning is via an American Power Conversions S 15, plugged into a double-grounded 20-ampere dedicated outlet. The C2, Integra disc player, and other digital gear are also hooked up via Kimber Palladian power cords, phenomenally effective at suppressing digital power supply noise. The system’s noise floor is very low. With each speaker, I listened to an assortment of familiar, well-produced music recordings and movie soundtracks.
Angstrom Ambienti AV-6.5
Approximately 13 inches tall by 9 inches wide, the Ambienti AV-6.5 is a twoway speaker with a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter and a 6.5-inch woofer. The woofer’s cone is Vectran, a high-tech woven material similar to carbon fiber or Kevlar, bonded to what Angstrom describes as a “linear long-throw butyl rubber edge surround.” The baffle is vertically ribbed for rigidity. High- and mid-frequency controls on the baffle allow some tailoring of the speaker’s output—making it brighter and more forward in over-damped rooms or taming its upper end in rooms that are too reverberant. I did all my listening with the controls set at their neutral position. Installing the AV-6.5 is easy—cut out a rectangle in the wall, insert the paintable frame, clamp it down, insert your speaker wires in the springloaded gold-plated connectors, and screw the baffle to the frame. For finalfinish installation, the perforated metal grille pops into place. Angstrom includes a handy hook tool with each Ambienti for easy removal of the grille.
Sonically, these speakers were a surprise and a delight. Crisp and punchy, with excellent dynamics, they revealed tremendous amounts of detail without sounding edgy, and didn’t change tonality as they got louder .
The manufacturer recommends using the Ambientis with amplifiers having a power-handling capacity of 50–100 watts. I do know that whatever amp you use, they can play loudly without distorting. I pushed them hard with Tab Benoit’s superb version of “I Put a Spell on You,” from his Nice and Warm CD [Vanguard], and they responded with aplomb. Heavy rock, like Radiohead’s “Creep,” also had a reach-out-and-grab-you quality—rare for in-walls.
Angstrom rates the AV-6.5’s frequency response as 42Hz–21kHz. Even though the speakers can’t reach the bottom octave, the bass they produce is quite respectable. Augmenting the bottom end with a powered sub helps tremendously, as it has with every pair of in-walls I’ve tried. No one would seriously expect huge bass from a 6.5-inch woofer—one that’s also doing an admirable job of delivering most of the midrange information. On complex material such as “Coracol,” the first track on Strunz & Farah’s CD Americas [Mesa], the Ambienti AV-6.5s clearly separated individual voices and instruments, and with equal adeptness separated foreground from background of movie soundtracks. Plowing through many familiar recordings, I was pleased to discover that the Angstroms introduced very little coloration and even delivered a pretty good semblance of imaging. The owner’s manual says the speakers’ crossover networks are designed for maximum high fidelity. Apparently the philosophy was applied to the entire product.
The Angstroms were fun and exciting to listen to; I heartily recommend them for both music and home theater use. High performance needn’t be sacrificed simply because floor space is tight.
AVguide publisher and TPV Audio editor Chris Martens has mentioned that Angstrom does well in the Canadian market but hasn’t made a big dent south of the border. That miscarriage of marketplace justice should change as custom installers and home-theater fans discover how great these speakers really are.