Nice in-wall speakers review by Erin (Kef, Revel, ML, B&W, M&K, Focal)

Saul Goodman

Distinguished Member


Interesting comments on the dispersion with the MK IW150's.

M&K IW150 In-Wall Speaker Review

Due to the multi-woofer/tweeter design, this speaker has a weird dispersion that will sound different depending on which side of the speaker you are on. In other words, if you sit right in front of it you will hear a different sound than you would to either the right or the left, rather than the speaker radiating the same side-to-side. This is going to make placement non-trivial and orientation moreso.
 

StephanG

Active Member


Interesting comments on the dispersion with the MK IW150's.

M&K IW150 In-Wall Speaker Review

It's physics. 🤷‍♂️
M&K designed the speakers as desktop monitors, one left, one right, angled to sit on axis. Sticking multiple drivers in a box that do the same thing is also never a good idea as you'll inevitably end up with lobing. Why not use a line source instead? This isn't the 80s anymore. And then someone had the idea to enter the hifi/home theater market with these designs. The rest is marketing, which seems to work very well. Maybe they've learned a bit from B&W.

It's no surprise KEF is doing rather well (in comparison to the others), because they design their own driver with actual research, which is... surprise... coax. Their only problem is lack of output.

One thing I still don't understand why we're stuck with this "outdated" technology which is analogue, non-active, non-dsp controlled crossovers. Manufacturers should either provide a full solution (Meridian, JBL, etc.) or offer the option to do it externally (Wisdom, JBL again). We have plenty of fantastic active/DSP solutions out there and yet very few a really suitable for on-/in-wall theater installations. And no, I don't consider the following very practical (excellent quality speaker though) as they're very deep speakers:
 

magicvinny

Active Member
So if all of those inwall speakers are sh*t* wich inwalls speakers should we use then?

Think we should take all this with a grain of salt!

MK’s are used in so many professional studio’s, why is that? Because they are just average? Even the B&W 800 series don’t measure well but they sound just fine(for most people).

Not really sure what to think of this.
 

simonb3665

Active Member
Erin does some excellent unbias analysis. Many other youtube reviewers are really just influencers and listening to them muddle their way through theory makes me cringe for them.
I have 2 lots of iw150, the previous version without a backbox and the latest version with backbox and 'pro' tweeter. The older version given the volume of the cavity sounds better than the new one as a standalone speaker to me. There is a subtly difference at the top end (it measures as it sounds, no surprises) but after eq they are identical.
As I don't use them as standalone speakers but augmented with subwoofers, rolloffs at 150hz, and a shed load of eq it's not really an issue for me in my usage. For the MK tri tweeter design, it again depends on usage. As a stereo pair, you do lose something in the soundstage that adds realism to the sound but in a surround system where the positioning is comprised it's no real issue. I have some that have to go near to the corner so in that scenario it is probably for the best to cut down on reflections.
MK used in professional studios - probably need to do your own independent research on that one along with all the other brands for mixing/mastering.
Do inwalls all sound bad, no? Do full-size speakers placed optimally in-room sound better, yes. I am sure that's the case with all inwall speakers compared to similar priced traditional speakers.
Inwalls have one huge advantage in that your house doesn't have to look like a branch of Richer sounds.
 

StephanG

Active Member
So if all of those inwall speakers are sh*t* wich inwalls speakers should we use then?
Meridian, JBL Synthesis (SCL-1 to SCL-4), Wisdom Audio, Triad to name a few. No one is keeping you from putting on-wall speakers into walls either. As you can see in the video I linked above, you can put a huge Genelec into a wall as well. Or build baffle walls for "normal" speakers.
MK’s are used in so many professional studio’s, why is that? Because they are just average?
Studios use everything, in the least case to validate how a mix transfers to other systems.
In studios those monitors are usually used at very close distances with a single listener in a fixed position. This is something completely different than most situations at home, especially for surround and home theatre scenarios. You can easily see in the measurements when a speaker is not really suitable for such tasks. That doesn't mean it won't work, it's just very flawed and if one likes such flawed solution is again subjective. I've had plenty of people tell me that a 50-bucks DIY speaker (just putting drivers in a box) is good enough.
B&W 800 series don’t measure well but they sound just fine(for most people).
Again, subjectively people are happy with a lot of bad, or let's call it not optimal, solutions. Objectively measured B&W are bad speakers.
I used to be one of these people ages ago, B&W was very high up on my list. Why? Because I didn't know any better. The majority of products out there are crap, so it's actually really hard to find the good stuff. It's not like B&W is crap and everything else is good, it's just so hard to find the good stuff. And yet B&W is sold everywhere... because it's probably the one brand that dealers can make the most profit on, so it's totally understandable they push this stuff... to make money.
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
These are LCRs and need to be tested as such…

No, there is reason why they are tested in mono. More here if intrested:

It's no surprise KEF is doing rather well (in comparison to the others), because they design their own driver with actual research, which is... surprise... coax. Their only problem is lack of output.

I think the model measured was THX Ultra rated so ideal up to 3000cuft room with 12feet viewing distance and there is also the larger 5160 model with 160mm UniQ driver and 4x 160mm bass drivers. +200£ to IW150.
 

StephanG

Active Member
I think the model measured was THX Ultra rated so ideal up to 3000cuft room with 12feet viewing distance and there is also the larger 5160 model with 160mm UniQ driver and 4x 160mm bass drivers.
They already show compression at [email protected], which doesn't bode well for higher output (compression gets worse with higher SPL). The larger models can take a little more, but I think still not enough for larger rooms. Then there's the Reference series which up the game bit more. They sound virtually identical to the smaller ones but are handbuilt in the UK with tighter component selection. They're a lot more expensive though, not worth it in my opinion, there are better alternatives at that price point, not in-wall though. Also, coax drivers lose their advantage the further they're away. The KEFs are really good but I wish KEF would give the option to use external crossovers by publishing the required filters for processors.
 

Furnace Inferno

Well-known Member
Personally I’ve never liked the sound of the KEF’s I’ve heard, way too pitchy to the point I find them painful to listen to.

Surprised there’s no Dali’s tested.
 

StephanG

Active Member
Personally I’ve never liked the sound of the KEF’s I’ve heard, way too pitchy to the point I find them painful to listen to.
I've had that experience with older KEFs, not so much with the current ones. On the other hand, it could be modern processors like Trinnov or Storm with all the optimization features that make these sound better.

I've had a similar experience with older (non GLM) Genelecs, which always sounded very bright. The newer ones with GLM or a modern processor are very different as well.
 

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