Hidden Tech: Speakers and TVs

April 10, 2018 | Comments
This project from La Scala features TVs that hide behind panels and speakers stashed in the ceiling.  Photo by John Read.

Music throughout the home can be beautiful. But the equipment that delivers that music can sometimes be unsightly.

Sure, some clients are fine with exposed speakers, especially as some manufacturers are designing products that are more attractive — some may even say decorative. But for those who prefer a more stealthy delivery of tunes, there are now hundreds of products and solutions that can fit the bill.

Speakers and subwoofers can disappear into a room with the proper planning and the right installer. A few examples:

  • Architectural speakers with removable covers. These in-wall or in-ceiling speakers are light enough to be clamped right to the drywall, and they’re usually hidden behind a magnetic grille (which can often be painted). In-ceiling applications are perfect for distributed, multi-room audio applications and new cinematic immersive audio formats like 3-D audio, which creates a more lifelike effect.
  • “Invisible” speakers. These gadgets are designed so that there’s minimal sonic degradation when they’re covered by any wall treatment, from mud to veneers — even plaster.
  • Acoustically transparent fabric. Any speaker with the proper baffling can be stashed behind the right fabric covering. In theater rooms that feature a projector-and-screen setup, the screen itself can be acoustically transparent to allow sound from the center channel speaker to pass through the screen and still be crystal clear.
  • Outdoor camouflage. Buried subwoofers and rock-shaped speakers are just some of the products that can turn a patio into an extra listening room.

Disappearing TVs

Similarly, TV placement and installation is a hot-button topic among designers and home owners alike. Many end users desire placements that might seem impractical, and some would prefer their TV screens disappear completely when not in use.

Luckily, the fully articulated TV mount has evolved, allowing a TV to be safely hung in more obscure locations — or places once thought to offer typically poor sight lines (i.e., over the fireplace) — and then drop to proper eye level when being watched.

For those who want the TV to go away entirely when it’s turned off, there are numerous options of motorized lifts and drives from which to choose. Sets can rise from the floor, drop from the ceiling or appear behind sliding doors and cabinets with the touch of a button.

There are also options for those that decide late in the game they want to stash a TV. For example:

  • Samsung’s “The Frame TV” looks like a framed piece of art when it’s not in use as a television.
  • TVs hidden in bathroom mirrors are growing in popularity and can be integrated relatively easily.
  • All-weather TVs can turn any porch or deck into its own entertainment space.

With the right planning, any room in a new build or renovation job can be movie- or music-ready as soon as the studs go up.