The SSP6 Multiducer is about the size of two hockey pucks stacked together with a threaded hole in the bottom for securing onto the Rev-Loc mounting plate and a speaker wire lead. The Multiducer product name was derived from the words “multi-functional transducer,” because it “covers the three major swaths of what the human ear is sensitive to–bass, mids and treble–with a single, full-frequency driver with no crossover.” The life of an architectural speaker designer can’t be easy. They spend hours engineering a product that has to sound terrific in the shallow depths of a sheetrocked wall, has to be easy to install and then (ideally) disappears in the room after installation. Even with larger drivers in smaller footprints, trimless bezels, and discreet placement, you inevitably have a segment of customers that say, “I just don’t want to see any speakers in my walls or ceiling!”
While there have been “invisible” speakers in the past, they always have carried a pretty steep price premium and required some serious installation skill and time to properly mud in, paint and conceal. That’s why when I passed by Revolution Acoustics booth at this year’s CEDIA EXPO this past September I was drawn in by their big sound and promise of ultra-fast and invisible installation.
I spent quite a bit of time talking to Revolution Acoustics CEO and founder, Bob Katz, and it’s clear that he has tons of passion for his product as well as some serious scientific chops to back it up. The SSP6 Multiducer is about the size of two hockey pucks stacked together with a threaded hole in the bottom for securing onto the Rev-Loc mounting plate and a speaker wire lead. Katz explained they coined the term, “Multiducer,” meaning multi-functional transducer, because it “covers the three major swaths of what the human ear is sensitive to–bass, mids and treble–with a single, full-frequency driver with no crossover.”
The Multiducers accomplish this via patented technology that utilizes a phenomenon called “bending wave physics.” I got Katz to dumb this down enough for me so I could gather that the Multiducers “recruit the entire surface of the material they are affixed to, transforming it into massively large, acoustic radiating speakers. The whole surface acts like a wall filled with speakers.”
“Nanoscopic chaotic waves are propagated all over the wall, ceiling, or glass by the SSP6 Multiducer,” Katz explained. “Imagine throwing a stone into a still pond. Where two waves collide, sound is projected from the surface of the material.”
Katz sent me a demo case that the company offers to dealers, and it included two of the Rev- Loc mounting plates, a small amplifier with several built-in EQ curves, and two SSP6s. I intended on installing the SSP6s into walls I built for testing in-wall speakers, but Katz was concerned that the 18-inch wide walls were just too narrow to do the drivers justice. Because they are essentially turning an entire wall into a planar radiating speaker, the larger the surface the better the sound.
I wanted to install them in a ceiling–a location I think would be utilized far more often and one more typical of a multi-room location–but the ceiling at my install showroom is drop tile and my home has sprayed “popcorn” ceilings. Katz instead suggested I use a large wall so as to have the best experience. Sonically the ceiling would be a great location, causing audio to rain down evenly throughout the listening area. Fortunately, I had a 10x23-foot wall at my installation showroom that would be the perfect candidate.
Installation really couldn’t be any easier and while speaker positioning is very flexible, Katz suggested placing the SSP6’s at standing ear level with about 15-feet separating the speakers. While the manual suggests slathering the Rev-Loc mounting plates with Super Glue and adhering them to the drywall, Katz sent me some ultra-high-bond tape, basically super strong double-sided tape, designed for adhesion to glass or other smooth surfaces. Basically you stick the Rev-Loc to the wall, screw the speaker onto it and connect to an amp. This took only about five minutes.
Katz mentioned that the speakers sound best when connected to a quality amplifier–Revolution Acoustics used a Crown at CEDIA–and after listening to both their small demo amp and a Sonos Connect: I agreed that the small demo amp seemed a bit lackluster. After connecting to an upper-mid level Denon receiver, however, the speakers really delivered.
It is actually a bit disorienting at first to hear such good sound coming from a sheet of drywall. (Katz says they also work equally well with glass, wood, fiberglass, metal, and numerous other panel materials.) The Multiducers produce a really wide left/right image, with sounds extending the width of the wall. There isn’t a “tight” phantom center channel image like a traditional pair of speakers can produce, with voices instead more nebulously centered and floating in space in the middle of the room. You also don’t get that sense of “depth,” of the audio soundstage extending back beyond the wall of the speaker or the ability to pinpoint where musicians are arrayed.
On the plus side you don’t get those “hot spots” where sound is loud near the speakers and volume drops off significantly as you move away. These “cones of audio” can definitely plague low ceiling installs. The Multiducers produced much more even coverage throughout the room, with consistent volume levels applicable to a “lifestyle” solution as users these days tend to want to be untethered when they enjoy their music.
The SSP6s absolutely love delicate, high notes–the reverberant decay of a cymbal strike, the soft scraping of a metal brush stroking across cymbals, the slide of a horsehair bow against a violin string, and the plucking of an acoustic guitar. These notes fall into the register of frequencies that work amazingly well with the SSP6 Multiducer, producing sound that is almost impossible to believe is resonating from a sheet of gypsum slapped up with no regard to audio performance by a construction crew. I listened to a ton of jazz through the speakers, and they truly made my walls sing.
While the speakers definitely produce fairly audible bass notes, at high listening levels with bass heavy songs I experienced some rattling and buzzing. These distortions were not from the Multiducers but seemed to come from the wall itself. Lowering the volume solved the issue, as did reducing bass, trimming trouble frequencies with EQ, but certain musical notes hit frequencies that produced buzzes, for instance the opening piano of “It Never Entered My Mind” from Miles Davis’ Poetics of Sound: 1954-1959. That said, the SSP6 Multiducers actually produced bass, which is uncharacteristic in the invisible category. Discussing this with Katz, he is convinced the source of the rattles lies with the metal of the drop tile suspended ceiling loosely attached to the wall at my showroom. “This does not happen with normal drywall ceilings found in the home,” Katz exclaimed, noting he has encountered this when demonstrating the speakers in some similar commercial environments.
At lower/moderate listening levels the sound is quite room filling, really seeming to emanate from everywhere. While I was able to get peaks around 80 dB at my sitting position with the volume up near reference level on the receiver, they didn’t play as loudly as traditional drivers. Katz mentioned it is simply because we are driving more mass as compared to a paper or aluminum cone.
Perhaps the most impressive thing was customer’s reactions to the speakers. I would have music playing and lead them into the room and listen for a few moments and then inform them that all of the sound they were hearing was resonating from the drywall. Everyone–and I mean everyone–was blown away by this and interested in learning more. In fact, a visiting rep decided to pick up the line! I’ve never had a speaker produce this much interest and excitement, and Revolution Acoustics could be exactly what you need to create an uprising in your multi-room audio business.
Completely invisible sound with virtually zero install time; will blow customers away; unbelievable how good and detailed drywall can sound
Wants to be driven by a good amp; can overwhelm the wall at high volumes
• Rev-Loc universal screw on mounting plate for simplified installation to virtually all substrates
• Recommended amplifier wattage 50-150 watts/ channel; up to 400 watts instantaneous peak; 6-ohm impedance
• IP65 ingress protection certified for water and dust
• Frequency range 45Hz- 20KHz
• Passed EIA 426B Transducer Accelerated Life tests at 9.4V (enclosed) and 12.0V (unenclosed)
• UL 2043 fire and smoke certified for air return plenums
• 2.7-inch diameter x 2.1- inch high; 1.5 pounds