Bookshelf Speakers

Paradigm Signature Designer Series In-Wall Speakers

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Design and Setup of the Paradigm Signature In-Wall Speakers

I use my home theater for both movies and two-channel listening so I will admit that the surround has not been my first priority. Up until now I have just be using whatever extra speakers I had laying around for rear channel duty. That happened to be a pair of Epos ELS-3 book shelves, positioned on stands beside a couch and angled towards the back of the room. Nothing about this setup was optimal, but it was cheap and got the job done. It didn't help that the speakers were in the way and took up space. Enough was enough; something had to be done about this crime against surround sound!

Talking with the wonderful people at Paradigm, we decided to go with their top of the line Signature series. I really wanted to make the jump to 7.1 so this meant a pair of SIG-ADP v.3 on the sidewalls and a pair of their new Designer Series SIG-1.5R-30 in the ceiling to provide the surround back channels. We chose the SIG-1.5R-30 because if their Guided Soundfield™ system. The two drivers are mounted at a 30-degree offset from the ceiling. This allows better directional sound than standard down firing in-ceilings, which is generally what you want from surround back channels. The SIG-ADP's are an Adapted Dipole design that provides a large, non-localized, full-range surround field- perfect for movie surround effects. Each speaker houses seven drivers- one 8" bass driver, four rectangular 1-1/8" x 4" midrange drivers, and two 1" P-Be dome tweeters.

Installation of the in-ceilings was a breeze and took under two hours, including some minor paint touchups. When choosing a location, you have to be sure there is enough clearance from your pilot hole to each ceiling joist before cutting your hole. The location of some pre-wired terminals and the ceiling joists mostly decided the final placement. I don't have a ton of room behind my couch, so my thought was, as long as the surround back channels were behind the couch and away from the sidewalls a bit that would be adequate.

Using the provided template, I marked my guides, cut the hole and carefully removed the sheetrock. I say carefully because many homes have blown-in insulation that will rain down on your face if you just pull away the cut sheetrock. What worked well for me was stuffing a section of rolled insulation into the opening to hold back the blown-in stuff. To finish up all I needed to do was connect the wire to the speaker, wedge the speaker into the opening and tighten the clamps. I made sure to angle the SIG-1.5R-30's toward the couch a bit to provide a little more direction to the audio effects. The SIG-1.5R-30 is part of a new Designer Series that feature an almost invisible bezel. The grills snap right into place, thanks to the tiny magnets around the edge of the speaker, and the bezel-less effect is very clean and esthetically pleasing.

Installation of the SIG-ADP's was almost as straightforward, except for one curve ball I was thrown. I could not seem to get a good fix on the stud locations on an interior wall. I had a nearby light switch and power outlet to go by, as those are generally mounted to a stud. My stud finder provided me with all sorts of unpredictable results. After talking with some people in the know, they said most likely the wall is covered in a layer of plywood situated in-between the studs and drywall. Well this would certainly confuse the stud finder.

After cutting away a small bit of drywall, sure enough, there was plywood underneath. After measuring 16 inches from the light switch and marking a guide in the middle, I cut open a hole large enough to run a wire hanger around the inside of the wall. If you bend a wire hanger at the maximum width the speaker requires, sticking it through the hole and twirling it around should give you an idea of what's behind the wall. The good news about the plywood was that this speaker would have a very solid mounting surface. Now the bad news was that cutting through sheetrock and plywood takes a lot more out of your arms! Instead of trying to feed new speaker wire through the attic and down the walls, I just bought a couple of wall plates with speaker terminals and dropped a short cable from the speaker down to the inside connection of the wall plate- simple and allows for easy disconnection if I am evaluating other speakers.