Integration of audio systems in the home is often a design challenge. While some speakers can be an element of decor and stand out proudly in a room, most products present a classic rectangular box design with finishes that more or less blend with the rest of the furnitures. For those that are particularly careful with their interior design and prefer stealthy technology, these solutions may not be satisfying.
Artcoustic, a Danish speaker manufacturer, offers an alternative that combines both sound quality and design aesthetic. Their range of shallow depth wall mounted speakers offers a large choice of artistic covers that make them look like paintings or picture frames.
When navigating the Artcoustic website, you will find next to the Product menu also the Design Options which give you complete design freedom. For a start, both cabinets and front covers can be ordered in specific colours (RalClassic, NCS and a Tikkurila selection) while black and white come as standard.
This level of customisation is already quite unique but Artcoustic concept takes it another step further. If you browse the Art Gallery section you will discover a wide range of art covers from a variety of designers. You can transform your speaker into a piece of art! This really sets Artcoustic apart from the other speaker manufacturers.
While browsing the Art Gallery check out the pictures from the Getty Images Gallery, a special selection of black and white classic photographs. Whether you like urban landscapes, celebrities, abstract or arty visuals, this selection has plenty to offer and comes cleared of exclusivity rights. You can of course dig in the complete and extensive gallery of 350 000 Getty photographs but you will need to pay for additional exclusivity rights.
Sound quality & technology
Having discovered the brand recently, I unfortunately did not get a chance to visit an Artcoustic showroom yet, so I cannot give an opinion on the sound quality their product offer. Having said that, they have collected several industry awards including the recent 2015 Smart Building Award for the "Best Loudspeaker".
What also caught my attention is the very peculiar technical design architecture used throughout their range. While browsing through the portfolio you will notice that each model uses the same drivers (tweeter and mid-bass), only the number of those varies. This means that the sound signature is constant, only the dynamic range (sound pressure level - SPL) will vary from one model to another. This allows to scale the speaker according to your configuration and room size.
The drivers seem to be very well built and come from Danish suppliers who traditionally offer very high end components. The tweeter specific design makes me believe it comes from Vifa and uses a ring technology which has been found in many high end speakers. Specifications may have been slightly modified by Artcoustic but it does seem that their products are indeed using high quality audio components.
Last but not least, Artcoustic also offers a range of discreet subwoofers which can help extending the bass response if you choose a smaller model or simply want your system to handle deep bass.
Prices and availability
Speakers start at around £350 / €500 per unit (haven't found dollar prices) for the smallest models and go as high as multiple thousands but the biggest models are intended for large venues and in most cases you don't need to go that high in standard homes.
The fee for non standard colours and art covers also scales up with the speaker size. In order to give you an idea, I checked with a British dealer prices of the Diablo SL, a model which would suit a wide range of installations:
- Diablo SL standard finish (black or white) £625 per unit (€870)
- Diablo SL RAL cabinet £710 per unit (€990)
- Digital Print for Diablo SL (single) £112 (€156)
- Getty Print for Diablo SL (single) £235 (€328)
Obviously, art covers come at a premium but buying a similar art piece would cost about the same if printed on a canvas, for instance. You can check www.photos.com to get an idea.
Artcoustic wall mounted speakers require a specific installation in order to hide speaker cables or integrate into built-in cabinets. You may also need support in order to choose which speaker configuration suits your requirements best as the portfolio allows for a very wide range of options from basic stereo to multichannel home cinema or multiroom audio setups.
As a consequence, you won't find Artcoustic speakers at your local electronic shop but only in a few selected dealers that have the required knowledge to support Artcoustic solutions. Check out their website and contact your country representative to find out which is the closest dealer.
Check out below a selection of installations from some of Artcoustic dealers. I also invite you to directly visit the Flickr page of Artcoustic as it offers numerous albums of inspiration photographs.
If your home allows the installation of wall mounted speakers then Artcoustic could be an interesting option. It does not come cheap but it's a totally unique and elegant solution when used in combination with art covers or RAL finishes. It not only removes the bulky speaker boxes but also offers a very interesting art selection. In any case, I suggest to visit a showroom to check out the products and get a proper listening session to validate that the sound is to your taste.
Do you like the Artcoustic concept and possibilities it enables for interior design integration? Let me know your thoughts on the comments below or on Facebook and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions related to these products.
Special thanks to Kim Donvig from Artcoustic for his support!
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