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in-ceiling speaker recommendation for large space

AwesomeSauce2015

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FWIW:
I would say that in a residential space, the KEF Q950 is pretty sweet. They can get plenty loud with a big amp, and they look pretty good too.
Also: with regards to KEF in-ceiling speakers, their 8" THX in ceiling round speaker uses the same coax driver as the Q950, the price difference between the two is minimal, and the Q950 comes with an additional 8" bass driver w/ 2 passive radiators...
Anything in-ceiling / in wall will be poor value compared to traditional box speakers.

I'm also a Meyer fan and with the processing they have you could definitely get some good results in a large space. But they do come with quite a price...
Meyer also makes some amazing subwoofers...

When I put the given dimensions into MAPP XT (modeled with the Ashby 8C), for the long dimension of the room 3 speakers will get you even coverage. I would assume that with the shorter dimension 2 speakers would work. That results in 6 total speakers, in a 2x3 configuration.
If you must have absolutely even coverage up to 8-16khz, then use 5 speakers along the long dimension with 3-4 rows of 5 speakers along the other.

According to the datasheet (Ashby 8C), they will definitely get loud enough with a peak SPL of between 106 and 114 depending on what "noise" you use.
However, they do not have heaps of bass. I would recommend adding a subwoofer to give bass. Adding an Amie-Sub to the simulation shows me that basically any real subwoofer should provide sufficient bass... although if you want a party you'll probably want 2x 15" or 18" subs from someone reputable like SVS, PSA, etc.


So my recommendation is to get some decent 8" in-ceiling speakers from someone like JBL, Revel, Meyer, etc, (Not KEF, they just aren't good value), and use 1 or 2 subwoofers to handle the low end. Power it all with a decent AV receiver (Yamaha RX-V6A, Denon, etc), and have fun.
 

Matthias McCready

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FWIW:
I would say that in a residential space, the KEF Q950 is pretty sweet. They can get plenty loud with a big amp, and they look pretty good too.
Also: with regards to KEF in-ceiling speakers, their 8" THX in ceiling round speaker uses the same coax driver as the Q950, the price difference between the two is minimal, and the Q950 comes with an additional 8" bass driver w/ 2 passive radiators...
Anything in-ceiling / in wall will be poor value compared to traditional box speakers.

I'm also a Meyer fan and with the processing they have you could definitely get some good results in a large space. But they do come with quite a price...
Meyer also makes some amazing subwoofers...

When I put the given dimensions into MAPP XT (modeled with the Ashby 8C), for the long dimension of the room 3 speakers will get you even coverage. I would assume that with the shorter dimension 2 speakers would work. That results in 6 total speakers, in a 2x3 configuration.
If you must have absolutely even coverage up to 8-16khz, then use 5 speakers along the long dimension with 3-4 rows of 5 speakers along the other.

According to the datasheet (Ashby 8C), they will definitely get loud enough with a peak SPL of between 106 and 114 depending on what "noise" you use.
However, they do not have heaps of bass. I would recommend adding a subwoofer to give bass. Adding an Amie-Sub to the simulation shows me that basically any real subwoofer should provide sufficient bass... although if you want a party you'll probably want 2x 15" or 18" subs from someone reputable like SVS, PSA, etc.


So my recommendation is to get some decent 8" in-ceiling speakers from someone like JBL, Revel, Meyer, etc, (Not KEF, they just aren't good value), and use 1 or 2 subwoofers to handle the low end. Power it all with a decent AV receiver (Yamaha RX-V6A, Denon, etc), and have fun.

Overachiever... dropping it in MAPP XT! :)

Agreed on the Meyer subs, and on just about everything they make. I have FULLY drank the cool-aid.

The 900-LFC's are the best thing I have ever heard to date. Tight, musical, and output! Granted those are some change, and not at all for the home environment!

----

If budget comes in to play for ceiling speakers I have heard good things about Tannoy, and Martins (quite inexpensive) would be better than some of the other options; these would be many leagues away from Meyer though (in output, sound quality, and cost).
 

AwesomeSauce2015

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@Matthias McCready
MAPP is amazing (once you figure it out) - Especially considering that they offer it for free...

What's your opinion on the JBL Control / (whatever other brand they have) ceiling speakers? In my experience they sound "good", and some models (seem to) come with compression driver tweeters which means output for days...

The JBL normal domestic models seem to be similar to the revel models which have been measured to perform fairly well.
 
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TXavGuy

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Also one other idea for you to mull over:

Note this is not necessarily the "right way," but it is a way to think about distributed systems is to flip L/R as you go between speakers. The advantage of this is that anything which is in the stereo domain will have less comb filtering in the hand-off zones between speakers while preserving "stereo information" throughout the whole room.

This is a different mode of thinking than having a listening room, as once you are designing a distributed system, it is never truly "stereo" anymore, it is some version of Mono or exploded mono usually, as you never fully in coverage of both L/R.
That makes a lot of sense, thank you!
 
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TXavGuy

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FWIW:
I would say that in a residential space, the KEF Q950 is pretty sweet. They can get plenty loud with a big amp, and they look pretty good too.
Also: with regards to KEF in-ceiling speakers, their 8" THX in ceiling round speaker uses the same coax driver as the Q950, the price difference between the two is minimal, and the Q950 comes with an additional 8" bass driver w/ 2 passive radiators...
Anything in-ceiling / in wall will be poor value compared to traditional box speakers.

I'm also a Meyer fan and with the processing they have you could definitely get some good results in a large space. But they do come with quite a price...
Meyer also makes some amazing subwoofers...

When I put the given dimensions into MAPP XT (modeled with the Ashby 8C), for the long dimension of the room 3 speakers will get you even coverage. I would assume that with the shorter dimension 2 speakers would work. That results in 6 total speakers, in a 2x3 configuration.
If you must have absolutely even coverage up to 8-16khz, then use 5 speakers along the long dimension with 3-4 rows of 5 speakers along the other.

According to the datasheet (Ashby 8C), they will definitely get loud enough with a peak SPL of between 106 and 114 depending on what "noise" you use.
However, they do not have heaps of bass. I would recommend adding a subwoofer to give bass. Adding an Amie-Sub to the simulation shows me that basically any real subwoofer should provide sufficient bass... although if you want a party you'll probably want 2x 15" or 18" subs from someone reputable like SVS, PSA, etc.


So my recommendation is to get some decent 8" in-ceiling speakers from someone like JBL, Revel, Meyer, etc, (Not KEF, they just aren't good value), and use 1 or 2 subwoofers to handle the low end. Power it all with a decent AV receiver (Yamaha RX-V6A, Denon, etc), and have fun.
Thanks for the detailed info and for taking the time to do the modeling. It sounds like you think the KEF Ci200RR-THX would be the best option ignoring price. Is that correct? I am always up for a bargain, but I don't want to have regrets, and some of the options I'm looking at make that KEF look rather inexpensive. Would I get the same uniform dispersion from, say, a Revel C783 (something that's been suggested to me)? Since it advertises an angle-adjustable tweeter, this implies to me that it has directionality by design.

One issue with all of these options it that the grilles are much bigger than some of the other options. The Revel, for example, has a 10.7" square grille and the square version of the KEF is the same, but the James Loudspeaker option is only 7" square.

I am looking for locations for subs to augment whatever I go with.
 

AwesomeSauce2015

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Thanks for the detailed info and for taking the time to do the modeling. It sounds like you think the KEF Ci200RR-THX would be the best option ignoring price. Is that correct? I am always up for a bargain, but I don't want to have regrets, and some of the options I'm looking at make that KEF look rather inexpensive. Would I get the same uniform dispersion from, say, a Revel C783 (something that's been suggested to me)? Since it advertises an angle-adjustable tweeter, this implies to me that it has directionality by design.
1. No, I'm not exactly advocating the KEF as the best option unless you like the KEF sound. KEF doesn't sound like JBL / Revel. I personally like the way JBL sounds vs KEF, due to their use of compression driver tweeters. But if you want even coverage I would say that the KEF Ci160RR-THX would probably be your best bet. The only issue could be the lack of midbass power, but seeing as both the Ci200 and Ci160 are THX certified, they both should get loud...

If you are concerned with overall output capacity, then KEF really isn't the place to look. Due to the coaxial design, they sacrifice quite a bit of the radiating area of the midbass driver. KEF also doesn't usually concern themselves with sensitivity, which in turn hurts output capacity.

If it was my house, I'd probably just end up putting in an appropriate amount of JBL Studio 2 8IC speakers. I would then use an active crossover in either an AV Receiver or a crown amp to cross over to a pair of 15" PSA subs. In wall / In ceiling subwoofers don't really work all too well compared to boxes...
If WAF was critical, I may instead use 3 SVS 3000-micro subs dotted around the room.

The reason I like the JBL models is that they are reasonably priced, and generally JBL stuff sounds "good". If you are moving around and doing social things in that space, you aren't critically listening to the sound system, and therefore any extra audio quality over "good" will be wasted. As long as you have enough power on hand to hit your desired listening level, and you have good subwoofers to handle the bass, it will definitely sound good. JBL stuff can get loud enough to handle a party, and it sounds clean while doing it.

Therefore, my recommendation of JBL / Revel still stands. KEF would theoretically offer better time / space performance, but you won't notice it. If you absolutely must have the best, regardless of cost, then get a Meyer system with the Ashby 8c speakers and whatever sub from them that you want.

2.
Would I get the same uniform dispersion from, say, a Revel C783 (something that's been suggested to me)? Since it advertises an angle-adjustable tweeter, this implies to me that it has directionality by design.
The directionality (directivity) of a speaker is generally going to be a function of the driver size. In this case, the the tweeter on the revel C783 is a 1" aluminum tweeter. The tweeter on the KEF Ci200RR-THX is a 1.5" aluminum tweeter. The 1.5" tweeter will generally start beaming earlier than a 1" tweeter. In the case of that revel speaker, I'd say that the adjustable tweeter is simply there to cater to the home theater market where they want the tweeter pointing at them from an angle. (ie: Atmos overheads)

So no, the Revel / JBL / basically any other "normal" speaker will not have any more or any less directionality than the KEF coaxial. The only difference will be potential directivity around the crossover point, which shouldn't be that audible.

This is a wall of text and what happens when I write something when I should be in bed... I apologize...
I still think that the JBL Studio 2 8IC or Meyer Ashby 8c are your best options.

I haven't heard of James Audio, so I cannot recommend or comment on their products. Meyer sound, JBL, and KEF are very widely known to make good quality products, and I have heard some of their stuff and liked it. Therefore, I can recommend those products.
 
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TXavGuy

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1. No, I'm not exactly advocating the KEF as the best option unless you like the KEF sound. KEF doesn't sound like JBL / Revel. I personally like the way JBL sounds vs KEF, due to their use of compression driver tweeters. But if you want even coverage I would say that the KEF Ci160RR-THX would probably be your best bet. The only issue could be the lack of midbass power, but seeing as both the Ci200 and Ci160 are THX certified, they both should get loud...

If you are concerned with overall output capacity, then KEF really isn't the place to look. Due to the coaxial design, they sacrifice quite a bit of the radiating area of the midbass driver. KEF also doesn't usually concern themselves with sensitivity, which in turn hurts output capacity.

If it was my house, I'd probably just end up putting in an appropriate amount of JBL Studio 2 8IC speakers. I would then use an active crossover in either an AV Receiver or a crown amp to cross over to a pair of 15" PSA subs. In wall / In ceiling subwoofers don't really work all too well compared to boxes...
If WAF was critical, I may instead use 3 SVS 3000-micro subs dotted around the room.

The reason I like the JBL models is that they are reasonably priced, and generally JBL stuff sounds "good". If you are moving around and doing social things in that space, you aren't critically listening to the sound system, and therefore any extra audio quality over "good" will be wasted. As long as you have enough power on hand to hit your desired listening level, and you have good subwoofers to handle the bass, it will definitely sound good. JBL stuff can get loud enough to handle a party, and it sounds clean while doing it.

Therefore, my recommendation of JBL / Revel still stands. KEF would theoretically offer better time / space performance, but you won't notice it. If you absolutely must have the best, regardless of cost, then get a Meyer system with the Ashby 8c speakers and whatever sub from them that you want.

2.

The directionality (directivity) of a speaker is generally going to be a function of the driver size. In this case, the the tweeter on the revel C783 is a 1" aluminum tweeter. The tweeter on the KEF Ci200RR-THX is a 1.5" aluminum tweeter. The 1.5" tweeter will generally start beaming earlier than a 1" tweeter. In the case of that revel speaker, I'd say that the adjustable tweeter is simply there to cater to the home theater market where they want the tweeter pointing at them from an angle. (ie: Atmos overheads)

So no, the Revel / JBL / basically any other "normal" speaker will not have any more or any less directionality than the KEF coaxial. The only difference will be potential directivity around the crossover point, which shouldn't be that audible.

This is a wall of text and what happens when I write something when I should be in bed... I apologize...
I still think that the JBL Studio 2 8IC or Meyer Ashby 8c are your best options.

I haven't heard of James Audio, so I cannot recommend or comment on their products. Meyer sound, JBL, and KEF are very widely known to make good quality products, and I have heard some of their stuff and liked it. Therefore, I can recommend those products.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful posts. This is all very helpful information. Since this is definitely not for critical listening, the JBL or Revel options may be good, and the price is certainly right. I did look into the Meyer option, but there are no local dealers, and I have some trepidation about involving another audio provider into the process. The integrator I am working with uses and recommends the James Loudspeaker products, so I will need to get them onboard with using an alternate approach. Of course, if I go that route, then I incur some of the responsibility for it sounding good. If they design it, it's on them...if I dictate the design, I'm sure I'll hear "well, this is what you asked for". So many decisions! Argh!

Regarding James, it is really hard to find information on them. Their offerings are very high-end, and the clientele they cater to probably aren't generally the post/read reviews online crowd. My listening experience was very favorable, but I haven't heard any high-end in-ceiling speakers under similar circumstances.

p.s. I know I sound like a broken record, but all of these alternatives to the James option are SO much bigger, which may not pass muster with my interior designer (or me, tbh)
 
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Matthias McCready

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@Matthias McCready
MAPP is amazing (once you figure it out) - Especially considering that they offer it for free...

What's your opinion on the JBL Control / (whatever other brand they have) ceiling speakers? In my experience they sound "good", and some models (seem to) come with compression driver tweeters which means output for days...

The JBL normal domestic models seem to be similar to the revel models which have been measured to perform fairly well.

Mapp is great, I don't get to use it a lot as my work is mainly with D&B and L'Acoustics these days... (miss you Meyer! ;)).

Some of the JBL stuff is ok, but I have also heard some pretty bad JBL Control stuff as well, but I couldn't say what was on the front end.

----

One brand I have been pleasantly surprised by is Martin Audio. They are relatively inexpensive, a little more than JBL, but their products hit above their price range. They make ceiling speakers and other commercial stuff, and I have seen their dealer pricing, it is REALLY good! :)
 

Matthias McCready

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Thanks so much for your thoughtful posts. This is all very helpful information. Since this is definitely not for critical listening, the JBL or Revel options may be good, and the price is certainly right. I did look into the Meyer option, but there are no local dealers, and I have some trepidation about involving another audio provider into the process. The integrator I am working with uses and recommends the James Loudspeaker products, so I will need to get them onboard with using an alternate approach. Of course, if I go that route, then I incur some of the responsibility for it sounding good. If they design it, it's on them...if I dictate the design, I'm sure I'll hear "well, this is what you asked for". So many decisions! Argh!

Regarding James, it is really hard to find information on them. Their offerings are very high-end, and the clientele they cater to probably aren't generally the post/read reviews online crowd. My listening experience was very favorable, but I haven't heard any high-end in-ceiling speakers under similar circumstances.

p.s. I know I sound like a broken record, but all of these alternatives to the James option are SO much bigger, which may not pass muster with my interior designer (or me, tbh)

What general area of the world are you located in? It is possible I may know someone.

For integrators some are great, and others REALLY push a pet brand, which means whatever is easiest (not what sounds best) and whatever has the highest margin for them (also not what sounds best). So feel that out. In my opinion the best integrators are a little brand agnostic, and look at the needs and situation before pegging a brand or model; I have certainly met integrators who have a model of speaker in mind before even meeting the client! :facepalm:

And yes responsibility of the design is a real thing. The integrator may be worlds better than you, or me; or they may be subpar. It really depends.

----

Hopefully I am not coming across as too jaded, I have ran across some really sketchy integrators lately, that cut some serious corners! :)
 

sweetchaos

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The only issue could be the lack of midbass power,

Here's Kef Ci3160RL-THX (in-wall) measured by Erin:
kef.png
Where do you see this "lack of missbass power" from the CEA-2010 graph above? I don't.
At 500hz, on-axis is down by 2db...but this is the lower midrange to midrange territory. Not midbass. And it's certainly nothing worrisome that you'll notice and that DSP can't fix.
The bump in midbass (centered at 70hz) is overemphasized on the Kefs. But so do many other in-walls. This wouldn't matter, since you'll be EQing the peaks down in midbass anyway.

If you are concerned with overall output capacity, then KEF really isn't the place to look. Due to the coaxial design, they sacrifice quite a bit of the radiating area of the midbass driver. KEF also doesn't usually concern themselves with sensitivity, which in turn hurts output capacity.
Don't agree. Erin showed that the Ci3160RL-THX has good response linearity, which is certainly better than most bookshelf speakers who can't handle this 102db test.
This model passes THX Ultra2 certified, which means it has the dynamics for THX reference level of playback and Erin's response linearity graph shows this:

Kef%20Ci3160RL-THX_Compression.png


The Kef R5 tower, for example, has issues with "lacking midbass power" that you described, which is true:
CEA2034.jpg
The R5 has slightly worse dynamics than the in-wall (Ci3160RL-THX):
Kef%20R5_Compression.png

Which means Ci3160RL-THX will outperform the R5.

I forgot to mention Kef's directivity for Ci3160RL-THX:
Horizontal directivity is (-50.0°, 50.0°) between 1kHz and 10kHz. Angle computed for +/-6dB.
Vertical directivity is (-50.0°, 50.0°) between 1kHz and 10kHz. Angle computed for +/-6dB.
Does it get better than this?
I haven't seen any CEA-2010 measurements for in-ceiling or in-walls that can match this that perfect directivity control.

Now, we don't have CEA-2010 measurements for the
Ci200RS-THX (8", in-ceiling, square)(yes, it's THX Ultra2 certified) or
Ci200RR-THX (8", in-ceiling, round)(yes, it's THX Ultra2 certified) or
Ci160RR-THX (6.5", in-ceiling, round) (THX Ultra1 certified only).
But seeing how they're all THX certified, the 8" models will play louder than 6.5" models and I can expect the 8" in-ceiling to be on par with the quality of Ci3160RL-THX.

Certainly Kef THX line is not a weakling.
The question of Kef's value...well, that depends on your local market and dealer pricing.
 

AwesomeSauce2015

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Re sweetchaos:
The only issue could be the lack of midbass power,
Here's Kef Ci3160RL-THX (in-wall) measured by Erin:
Where do you see this "lack of missbass power" from the CEA-2010 graph above? I don't.
At 500hz, on-axis is down by 2db...but this is the lower midrange to midrange territory. Not midbass. And it's certainly nothing worrisome that you'll notice and that DSP can't fix.
The bump in midbass (centered at 70hz) is overemphasized on the Kefs. But so do many other in-walls. This wouldn't matter, since you'll be EQing the peaks down in midbass anyway.
Please note that my comment was directed at the Ci200RR-THX. It is a single 8" coaxial driver. Not a 3-way in-wall speaker with dual dedicated bass drivers in a high-Q enclosure. I have heard many KEF products, and they always seem to lack midbass punch both subjectively and objectively when compared to similar products from JBL and other brands.
Even their TOTL speakers such as the R11, Q950, and Reference 1 all seem to lack power in the midbass area in my subjective tests. It may just be me, but I find that JBL speakers such as the HDI-3800 and Studio 580 to sound more lively and to have that midbass capability that KEF lacks.
The only KEF speaker I have heard that had proper bass (according to me) was the Blade 2 driven by some big monoblocks. But even then I still wasn't a huge fan.

If you are concerned with overall output capacity, then KEF really isn't the place to look. Due to the coaxial design, they sacrifice quite a bit of the radiating area of the midbass driver. KEF also doesn't usually concern themselves with sensitivity, which in turn hurts output capacity.
Don't agree. Erin showed that the Ci3160RL-THX has good response linearity, which is certainly better than most bookshelf speakers who can't handle this 102db test.
This model passes THX Ultra2 certified, which means it has the dynamics for THX reference level of playback and Erin's response linearity graph shows this:
Once again, I am not talking about the Ci3160RL-THX. While I do not doubt that the KEF Ci200RR-THX would have plenty of output for OP's needs, there really isn't any comparing with anything from Meyer sound. Also, with all else being equal, a non-coaxial has more radiating area than the KEF woofer, which means it moves more air, and in turn can play louder. And, since the coax woofer is part of the tweeter waveguide, it also cannot have a long-throw surround. This is another limiter to output capacity.

So once again, while KEF certainly makes good speakers, and would probably be fine for OP, I would recommend re-allocating the budget that would be spent on the KEF "upgrade" from JBL / Revel and using it for subwoofers or something else that will more significantly impact the listening experience.

For OP: ---------------------------------------------------------------
As you expressed concerns with the size, please keep in mind that the grills on these speakers can be painted, and once installed by someone who knows what they're doing, they are virtually invisible unless you're intentionally looking for them.
JBL, KEF, Revel, and Meyer all make smaller versions of their speakers, if the 8" grills are too big.

JBL: JBL Studio 2 6IC
KEF: Ci160RR-THX
Revel: Revel C763

Also RE the james audio thing:
For integrators some are great, and others REALLY push a pet brand, which means whatever is easiest (not what sounds best) and whatever has the highest margin for them (also not what sounds best). So feel that out. In my opinion the best integrators are a little brand agnostic, and look at the needs and situation before pegging a brand or model; I have certainly met integrators who have a model of speaker in mind before even meeting the client! :facepalm:
I agree with this statement. While I understand that integrators may have something that they know works and will stick with that, pushing a product that lacks information online seems a bit questionable, especially with the cost.
Generally, when I recommend something to people, I recommend stuff that has major brands behind it as I know that replacement parts and support will be available.
And yes responsibility of the design is a real thing. The integrator may be worlds better than you, or me; or they may be subpar. It really depends.
Yep. I second this. Except that I will add 1 thing: If I'm recommending something, I am pretty much sure that it will work. I hate being wrong. That's another reason why I recommend certain things. I know that they will work.

Regarding James, it is really hard to find information on them. Their offerings are very high-end, and the clientele they cater to probably aren't generally the post/read reviews online crowd. My listening experience was very favorable, but I haven't heard any high-end in-ceiling speakers under similar circumstances.
Please be careful to not confuse high price with high end. Bowers and Wilkins is expensive, but certainly not state of the art in performance.
After looking at the James speakers, I have to say that I am definitely still skeptical. They could be really good, and you mentioned that they sounded good, but the tweeter thing seems weird to me, especially considering that the speakers don't appear to be actively amplified (they have 1 set of binding posts, therefore they must have a passive crossover).
If you have a best buy with a magnolia section near you, maybe going and listening to some other options may be in order?

edit: I'm a formatting idiot
 
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TXavGuy

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What general area of the world are you located in? It is possible I may know someone.

For integrators some are great, and others REALLY push a pet brand, which means whatever is easiest (not what sounds best) and whatever has the highest margin for them (also not what sounds best). So feel that out. In my opinion the best integrators are a little brand agnostic, and look at the needs and situation before pegging a brand or model; I have certainly met integrators who have a model of speaker in mind before even meeting the client! :facepalm:

And yes responsibility of the design is a real thing. The integrator may be worlds better than you, or me; or they may be subpar. It really depends.

----

Hopefully I am not coming across as too jaded, I have ran across some really sketchy integrators lately, that cut some serious corners! :)
I don't think you're coming off as jaded at all. My situation is complicated by the fact that they're doing all of the low-voltage for a new home build. They were selected for "best overall offering", not just for audio expertise. With that said, they seem to be pretty good and sell a lage variety of products, so they're not just recommending the James Loudspeaker option because it's all they have available.

I will shoot your a PM.
 
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