GoldenEar Technology proves in-ceiling speakers can hang with the best

goldenear technology cedia invisa htr mpx booth

We took in a lot of demonstrations at this year’s CEDIA show, but there was one in particular that grabbed our attention, both because it was insanely ambitious, and because it was incredibly impressive. Sandy Gross, owner of a speaker company called GoldenEar Technology, pulled off the most impressive in-ceiling speaker demo we’ve ever heard, and he did it in a hastily-built “room” on the show floor of a trade show. 

In-wall and in-ceiling speakers (architectural speakers) get a bad rap among audiophiles because, historically, their performance has paled in comparison to the capabilities of a traditional speaker, and because, in a way, they say something about the type of person who would own them.

“You’re not really serious about sound, are you?” they say. “Why do you want to hide your speakers?  If you were a real man, you’d have speakers out for everyone to see, no matter what other people in the house think. Wait … are you seriously drinking Kombucha right now?” 

Yes, it’s true: There are some who install architectural speakers because good sound takes a distant back seat to a pretty hutch or armoir. And for those of you who fall into that category, we submit to you 95 percent of the in-wall/in-ceiling speaker market. You’ve got a ton of choices, and they all pretty much sound the same. Happy shopping. 

But there are some of us who want to put hard-core, THX-quality sound into a particular room where installing a conventional speaker system is completely impractical, if not impossible. Maybe there’s not enough space, or the room has a funky shape, or there are a lot of large pets around who like to tip expensive stuff over on a regular basis. Whatever the case, should we have to sacrifice awesome sound just because we have to go in-wall/in-ceiling with our speakers? Of course not! But where do you get an architectural speaker that can deliver audiophile-grade sound quality?

Invisa HTR 7000 parts

Back to Sandy Gross and GoldenEar Technology. We’ve known Sandy on a personal level for a couple of years now, and we’ve long been familiar with his work through Polk and Definitive Technology, both of which he co-founded. But GoldenEar Technology is a different sort of endeavor for Sandy, and we’ve found the speakers produced under this name to be something special. That is especially true for the GoldenEar Technology Invisa HTR 7000 in-ceiling and Invisa MPX in-wall architectural speakers (both of which cost $500 each), which we heard demonstrated at CEDIA. Invisa HTR 7000 installed

Had we walked in blindfolded, we never would have guessed we were listening to in-ceiling speakers. First of all, the HTR 7000 provided incredibly clean and well-extended high frequencies, thanks to GoldenEar’s folded Kevlar tweeter – the same tweeter you’ll find across the company’s entire line of speakers. But secondly, and perhaps most impressively, the sound stage didn’t seem to be coming from the ceiling at all. Both dialog in movies and instrumentation in music demonstrations seemed to come from about the same level as the display, providing a realistic and naturally coherent experience. 

In addition, the transition between the speakers and the two Forcefield 5 subwoofers in the demo was as seamless as we’ve heard from any subwoofer/satellite system, let alone one based on in-ceiling speakers. 

Moreover, the speakers were never a distraction. They simply served to help immerse us in the movie or music experience, never calling attention to themselves, yet completely drawing us in. In our notes, we wrote: “Caught myself not listening with purpose. I just got sucked in, lost myself, and it was awesome.” 

All this is to say that in-ceiling speakers don’t have to be a compromise; they can be a joy. What we heard in GoldenEar Technology’s booth is proof positive that with the right kind of engineering and attention to detail, an architectural speaker can absolutely scratch an audiophile’s itch. 

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Product Review

Vizio's best-ever soundbar brings Dolby Atmos theater magic to the living room

Soundbars with true Dolby Atmos surround sound have historically been a rich man’s game, but Vizio’s 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar undercuts similar competitors by hundreds of dollars. Can this budget Atmos system stand up to the big boys?
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Bumblebee,’ ‘Alita,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, as well as new trailers for Alita: Battle Angel and Bumblebee.

The best 4K TV deals under $500 and over 50 inches

Big-screen TVs with high-resolution displays and 4K color have dropped so far in price that you can find highly rated 50 to 55-inch models under $500. We searched major retailers for the best deals on 4K UHD TVs.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2, Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Between sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Stranger Things season 3 predictions: Decoding the episode titles

Netflix has revealed the episode titles for season 3 of Stranger Things, and the eight titles could shed light on what we can expect to see when the hit show returns in summer 2019.

This one-day Skullcandy sale gets you wireless earbuds for under $30

Today only, you can save 40 percent on wireless earbuds, noise-canceling headphones, and classic earbuds direct from the Skullcandy website. If you're hoping to get a pair of headphones before the holidays arrive, now is the time.