It’s fascinating to look at the audio market. There are roughly four segments: traditional hi-fi, portable hi-fi, compact hi-fi and custom install hi-fi. The traditional hi-fi will certainly continue to exist, but is just a niche. Large systems to get the ultimate audio experience is first and foremost for the happy few and also requires a space that makes that possible. Portable audio speaks for itself. Compact hi-fi means all-in-one systems. And that market is growing… fast. Just like… Custom install. Right. CI. Cursing in church? I Didn’t think so. Custom Install systems are very good these days. Very, very good. We are testing an affordable system from KEF: the CI4100QL THX. In the Alpha way. So with installation and measurement..
There are enthusiasts who like to put large speakers in the living room. We certainly belong to that group. Speakers can be beautiful. And the free placement of speakers has a positive effect on imaging. You usually get more depth in the stereo image. However, free placement also has disadvantages; the manufacturer of the speaker does not know exactly how to place the speaker. So there are uncertain factors in the production of a loudspeaker.
And here there is an advantage: it is certain how the speaker is placed – or mounted – namely in the wall. A manufacturer can therefore take these factors directly into account when developing the loudspeaker. And that has a positive influence on the radiation and frequency response at the listening position.
KEF is one of the bigger players in the custom installation market. They say they have a majority stake in the naval industry. So boats. Or rather, yachts. The reason is that KEF is one of the few players that has a built-in speaker that can withstand these difficult conditions perfectly. Think salt, sun, moisture… something that speakers usually can’t handle very well.
But we’re not that interested in this industry. Alpha Audio is not so concerned with sea air. But with living rooms or listening rooms. In short: we are testing a model that feels more at home in the living room. The CI4100QL THX. An in-wall speaker of 500 euros. (each).