Sheetrock 'n' Roll Atlantic Technology InWall-8 Subwoofer System
As with bookshelf speakers, deep bass response isn't what in-wall speakers do best. It should come as no surprise that every single in-wall speaker in this roundup performed better in terms of clarity and openness when I crossed it over at around 80 Hz. (It's just not fun to listen to drywall resonate.) However, if you decided to go the in-wall-speaker route because your significant other won't allow speakers on the floor or the interior decorator freaked at the thought of big boxes taking up floor space, it's not likely that you'll have much success selling the idea of a bulky powered subwoofer hulking in a corner.
Don't despair, though. Atlantic Technology's stealthy InWall-8 subwoofer system can make most freestanding powered subs want to go into hiding. The THX Ultra–certified system that Atlantic Tech sent me included two IWTS-8 in-wall subwoofer modules, each containing a pair of 8-inch long-throw drivers. Because of the woofers' long excursion, the grilles extend out from the wall an inch or more; however, since the woofers are mounted low (about 15 inches from the floor), it's easy to hide them behind furniture or plants. Amazingly, the subs fit in a standard two-by-four wall. You don't want to just slap them in the wall and start jamming, though. Most standard walls aren't sealed well enough to let the IWTS-8s work the way they should, so it's almost mandatory to install the woofers using the back boxes that Atlantic Tech specifically designed for this purpose. This isn't a problem in a new construction, but those of you who live in an existing home will have to consider tearing out and replacing a portion of your wall. The back boxes are about 7 feet tall, so there's no way to slip them in from the attic.
Atlantic Tech also sent me an SA-700 dual mono subwoofer amplifier that drives 350 watts per channel into each subwoofer module. The SA-700, in addition to being quite a formidable amplifier, also includes independent phase, low-pass, bass-level, and location-EQ settings for each subwoofer module. You can install the two modules in different room locations and tailor each module to that location, which makes it easier to smooth out the overall room bass response. The amp includes a remote control that lets you mute, adjust volume level, and switch among four preprogrammed EQ settings (plus a reference flat setting).
Tearing out a wall to make room for a subwoofer may seem a little overboard, but Atlantic Tech's InWall-8 subwoofer system is definitely worth the effort. The system is authoritative, quick, and superbly musical. In addition to providing an incredibly deep bass foundation for every in-wall speaker in this roundup, the InWall-8 was one of the easiest subwoofer systems I've worked with to configure and match with such a large variety of speakers. For those of you who have smaller rooms and smaller budgets, you can use one IWTS-8 module with Atlantic Tech's SA-350 single-channel amplifier. It's not the cheapest ticket in town, but it's certainly worth the price of admission.