Yesterday's column on Atlantic Technology's corner sub got me thinking about a beautiful glossy press package I got recently from Sound Advance, makers of completely invisible planar speakers. The idea is that the speaker is mounted in the wall, but the wall surface becomes the speaker - no unsightly grills (see picture). There are definite performance disadvantages to using the transmission line effect (i.e., your entire wall becomes a speaker), along with a more complicated and expensive installation process. But the end result is sound without an obvious source.
Is this really necessary? Nearly every in-wall speaker I've ever come across allows you the grills to be painted, making them nearly invisible and not so unsightly after all. I understand the uses this technology may have for some commercial spaces - especially theme park rides, where having 100% invisible speakers is a plus and broader dispersion of sound may be a benefit, too. But in the home? It seems like far more trouble than its worth.
Editor's note: the original version of this entry contained a typo, erroneously suggesting that Sonos purchased Sound Advance, instead of Sonance. In my defense, Sonos and Sonance do have somewhat similar names, and I have a Sonos system in for review at the moment, so that company is top of mind. Both companies sell distributed home audio systems, but they are otherwise completely unrelated.