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tSc Setup and Installation Pt. 1

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While many of you don't need a primer on how to install in-wall speakers, I'm going to run through the basics anyhow. For those of you that don't need this, feel free to skim forward until you get to something interesting. For the rest, let's start with the basics.

You're going to need a template.

Inwall_template.JPGI mentioned that I had one of the pre-production sets of speakers received by tSc. This meant limited branding but more importantly it meant zero additional material. Essentially, I got speakers in a box. No manuals, no directions, no templates… nothing. This isn't a problem really since installing in-wall speakers isn't exactly rocket science so we made do. At the time of the review, even some of the online information was wrong so we really had to double check everything. The first thing we did was to make a template. The NT speakers by tSc make this an easy task with the small lip about an inch inside the beveled edge. Each of the speakers needed a hole that was 14" tall (or wide depending on how you orientated them) with the 25's needing a 7-1/8" and the 26s needing a 7-3/4" wide hole. While I was all prepared to cut something out of cardboard (the easiest way), my father (whose home was getting the speakers) wanted to use plywood. A few rips with the circular saw later, and we had our template. The overlap with the mounting clips makes it so your hole didn’t have to be exact as long as it wasn't too small.

Inwall_door.JPGThe next step was placement. The room the speakers were going into was a bonus room built up in the attic. As such, we had unparalleled access behind the walls. Recently, my parents had installed a bathroom up there which limited some of the access but we could still exit the room directly behind the right wall and walk around to behind the front wall. Getting to the left and back wall was more of an issue but it was doable by climbing over the top of the room and (theoretically) dropping down the wall from above. The wall of the back of the room was angled because it was flush with the roof (basically a hip roof) though it wasn't much of a problem since we could push a wire down from above if we needed. Fortunately, we already had the wires run to the back of the room (just not to the right places) so half of our work was done for us.

The way the room was laid out, the couch was on the right side of the room with an open area to the left that eventually led to a bathroom. This made for placement issues with the left surround speaker as it ended up being nearly 10 feet further away from the listening position as the right surround. The original speakers (JBL Home Theater in a Box) were placed in the corners which I wouldn't have condoned even if it would have worked for in-walls. While surrounds generally should be placed to the left and the right of the seated position, I opted to place them behind the couch as it would create a more symmetrical placement and would still sound pretty good (especially to my decidedly non-audiophile parents).

The best laid plans and all of that…

It didn't take long with a studfinder to realize that my initial idea wasn't going to work. Where I wanted to place the left surround was jammed up with studs and by the time we found a large enough opening to accommodate the speaker, it was placed almost a third of the way into the couch. Well, that wasn't going to do so we quickly reconsidered. With a little bit of planning, we decided we would place them on the side walls even though this would again have the left speaker 10 feet farther away from the listening position. "Hey," I told my father, "you can only do what you can do." This is one of the limitations of in-wall speakers and too often people have grand plans for placement (like me) without ever exploring if their plans are even viable. Since my parents live 6+ hours away, I at least have an excuse for not testing it out with a studfinder first. Above the distance issue, the two side walls did not have symmetrical stud placement. This meant that one speaker was a bit (a few inches) higher and farther forward than the other. It couldn't be helped. Again, when working with in-walls, these are the problems you come across.

Inwall_room_rear.JPG

Back of Room (notice, no left rear speaker, it's way off to the side)

When my parents bought their initial system, it consisted of the JBL speakers, a 32" JVC CRT display, and an Onkyo receiver. Good gear for the most part especially for the time and the amount of money spent. They did make the classic mistake of thinking that they'd have this same gear forever. When they bought the TV, flat panel prices were in the 10's of thousands and seemed completely out of reach. A few years later and they're ready to upgrade but can't. Why? They have a huge entertainment center that was custom built for their TV. Not only that, but when it was constructed, they didn't consider speaker placement and ended up having to put the fronts way up on top of the entertainment center which made the TV (my mother's words) "look like it had horns." Needless to say, she'd push the speakers back to reduce the offending imagery. Sonically, this wasn't helping the JBLs any.

Inwall_room_front.JPGFast forward a few years and they want to upgrade to a flat panel but can't because of the size of the cabinet. After a few days of, ahem, discussion, they had the top of the thing lopped off and purchased a 58" Samsung plasma! Hurrah! Now we're talking! But this introduced a new problem - there was no room for a center channel. Sure, we could install one near the ceiling but that would look sort of silly. We could wall mount the TV and install one underneath but again, the display would be near the ceiling and look off. The options quickly settled down to either installing a box speaker in a cabinet or forgoing the center altogether and going for a 4.1 system and a phantom center.

They opted for the latter.

Given the amount of sonic and visual improvement they were about to make to their setup, I considered this a win on all counts. In-wall speakers had the benefit of appeasing my mother who really didn't want to see the speakers anyhow, and they appeased me in that I wouldn't have to pull my hair out every time I came over and saw where my mother had relocated the speakers. From my father's point of view, he got what he wanted most (a bigger TV) and got better sound as well (or so I promised him). As it is for many people, the TV was the easy sell; it was the speakers that tended to get the most frowns.

I wanted to see if I could change that.

Inwall_cut.JPGThe last part of the preparation was the tools. My father just got a hand held, battery powered rotary saw. We decided to use that to cut the holes in the walls. Was it easier than a manual drywall saw? No. It also wasn't faster nor did it provide a straighter cut. But it was cooler to use. We also had on-hand a cordless drill, a cordless screwdriver, a drywall saw, a snake (stiff piece of wire for re-routing the speaker cables), a pencil, a level, a tape measure, and a vacuum cleaner. After placing the template on the wall, we leveled it, checked our measurements, and drew it in with a pencil. Cutting the holes was pretty much a snap with the router. One of us would cut the hole while the other held the hose of the vacuum near the cut to catch the majority of the dust. It's wasn't 100% but it did cut down on the cleaning afterwards.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

rsajdak posts on September 21, 2009 23:46
How do these speakers compare to the Klipsch in-walls?
Tom Andry posts on January 23, 2009 09:36
Alex2507, post: 512899
I like the review too. Just because I'm a drywaller I chuckle when I see what normal people do to cut holes. Hey, drywallers don't have many opportunities to feel superior.

Glad I could be of service!

I feel the same way when i go to other people's homes and see how they calibrated their TV or setup their speakers. There is nothing like seeing the surround speakers placed in front of the couch to give me great AV Rant material.
gene posts on January 22, 2009 23:18
These seem to be very similar to the MB Quart Alexxa in-walls. Are the two companies related? If this was previously discussed, I apologize.

tSc does some of their own design work such as the TSAT system I just finished reviewing and will post tomorrow.

But many of their designs are open tooled in china and you would be surprised how many speaker brands run on the same lines!

If you are thinking about getting the MB Quarts from the Audioholics E-store or elsewhere, I'd suggest you save your money and buy the tSc versions Tom reviewed
Alex2507 posts on January 22, 2009 21:34
I like the review too. Just because I'm a drywaller I chuckle when I see what normal people do to cut holes. Hey, drywallers don't have many opportunities to feel superior.

What caught my attention in this was that The Complex is in DTS. I have a DVD video that is in Dolby Digital. I think I may try to blow up my subs tomorrow listening to the piano smasher. Great name for it.
Matt34 posts on January 21, 2009 18:22
Tom Andry, post: 511774
I'm finishing up a review of the TST2's right now.



I'm not sure about any relation but I agree (and mentioned it in the review). That being said, the MB Quart speakers sell for over 2x's more.

Rickster71, post: 512362
That's good to hear; looking forward to it.

Any info on who makes their drivers in the TST2's and TST3's?

Thanks,
Rick

Looking forward that review.

Rickster,

I believe those speakers are rebadged Saphires but I'm not sure where they sourced their drivers from.
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