Monitor Audio’s commitment to the custom installation market is evident in the product design — and the names — of two of the new innovations the company has brought to CEDIA Expo: the Creator Series speakers and the Installation Series amplifiers.
The Creator Series is a new range of in-ceiling and in-wall speakers that feature advanced acoustic technologies and smart installer features. There are 19 models (14 in-ceiling and 5 in-wall) arranged in three clearly defined tiers. All the models regardless of tier feature Monitor Audio’s Quik-Link, which allows the installer to remove the terminal block from the physical speaker and pre-terminate the speaker cables to it. Once the speaker is ready to be fitted within its cut-out, the Quik-Link can be offered up to the connection point on the speaker and magnetically snaps and locks into place.
“The Creator series is a total reinvention of our architectural speakers, starting from looking at how the product should interact with the customer — the customer in this case being both the installer and the final end user,” says Michael Hedges, technical director at Monitor Audio. “We did a whole load of market research that looked at what they wanted from the end experience, from the installation experience, and even from the packaging experience, and how can we as a company best deliver that so their lives are easier and encourage the installer to want to use it.
“The installer wanted it to go into the ceiling easily and they wanted it to be reliable. The end customer wants a great experience with the audio sound quality, but they also need to have a selection of products for different areas of the house, where they might have different budgets. So, we looked at our whole portfolio of architectural loudspeakers and we replaced just under 50 loudspeaker products with 19 — and that’s the new Creator series. We’ve distilled it down and removed products but kept all of the overall functionality.”
With the Quick-Link, the goal was to make sure that the installer did not need an extra set of hands when placing the speaker in a ceiling. “There’re lots of companies out there producing screwless fixings that click in the ceiling, but one of the problems with them is that the installers are never quite sure if they’re secure in the ceiling,” says Hedges. “So, we’ve moved our dog leg to a machine screw that’s captive with retention chains in there to hold it back. You can stick your speaker in your ceiling, and you can run your three dog legs very easily. You also know that if you need to undo those dog legs, they’re going to click, and you’re going to pull your speaker out without them hanging in the way and potentially chipping the plasterboard.
“The other problem installers told us was holding the speaker at the top of the ladder and having a problem attaching the terminal. To fix that, we created Quick Link, with a magnetic terminal block that you snap on to the cable. Lovely, light, and easy to do. You can hold it one hand to actuate the terminals.”
As for the Installation Series, Hedges adds, “You need to drive the Creator Series with something, so, we’ve got a new suite of amplifiers. Now, installers can pick up a portfolio of Monitor Audio products and complete most elements of the audio side of the job.”
The four-model Installation Series combines high-performance sound with smart features, including Power Sharing, which lets each amplifier guarantee a powerful performance through high-voltage rails that allow a single output stage to deliver the full output power of the system. Regardless of the speaker impedance (4 or 8 ohms), the channels do not need to be bridged to deliver the highest power levels.
Models in the new range include:
- The IA60-4 has a half-width chassis that offers flexibility while delivering 4 channels at 60 watts or 2 channels at 125 watts. Using power sharing, it can be configured to a single channel at 250 watts. It is designed for two-zone stereo applications, height channels within home theater Atmos solutions, or small garden systems.
- The IA125-4, which also has a half-width chassis, delivers 4 channels at 125 watts or 2 channels at 250 watts. Designed for larger two-zone stereo applications and height channels within home theater systems, when using power sharing, it can be used to support Monitor Audio’s THX certified Cinergy 100 speakers.
- The IA750-2 and the IA750-4 contain all the same features as the IA60-4 and IA125-2, but deliver even more power and are designed to pair with Monitor Audio’s THX certified Cinergy speakers. The amps deliver either 2 or 4 channels at 750 watts.
What are Monitor Audio’s goals in catering to the needs of the custom installation industry? “We want to be seen as a premium audio company,” says Hedges. “We also want to be seen as being a stable company that can deliver long-term growth in terms bringing installers new products on a regular basis that are going to solve their problems, so that they can then step-up their installations in the residential space.”
Visit Monitor Audio at booth #943 and at www.kevro.com.