From the Beatnik’s Wife: Napa Acoustics Answers Four Questions My Friends Have about Loudspeakers

When Jack and I first met, he was already an audiophile. I was a college freshman from Nashville, TN, and I’ll admit that I didn’t have a very diverse taste in music. Since our first date was to go to a French String Trio concert on campus, he’s lucky he got a second date. Anyway, the second date was a nice dinner out (a real treat since I lived in the dorm), and then we went over to his place to listen to his stereo.

So when we got to his place, there were a couple of surprises right off the bat. The first was that he was really seriously interested in what I thought of his stereo. The second was that his speakers were a pair of stacked QUAD ESLs like these that dominated the living room of his mobile home. Now, some of you might be able to relate to this, but for those of you who can’t, I’m talking about speakers that together were about six feet tall and stood almost that far out into the room. I’d really never seen a setup like this, but I had also never heard a stereo that sounded that good.

Over the years, we’ve lived in various houses, and we have always looked for dedicated space for Jack’s listening room. There have been various iterations of speakers that have come and gone from our house, and they have varied in size from floor-standing to stand-mounted and bookshelf or desktop speakers. I know most speakers usually can’t sit right up against the wall, so I’ve learned to tolerate that they have to be placed just so, will have cords running out the back, and Lord help me if I bump one of them with a vacuum cleaner when cleaning the house. As for bumping a speaker with the vacuum cleaner, I solved that problem for myself by hiring a maid service. It’s between them and him now.

I realize that there are some women who are also audiophiles, but for most of my life, my friends just haven’t really been into it, and they wonder why I tolerate Jack’s hobby. Here are four questions my girlfriends have asked:

  1. Why do the speakers have to sit in the middle of the room?
  2. Do you really have to have all of those cables?
  3. Why can’t they make speakers that coordinate with my decorating style?
  4. It’s just so expensive. How can you afford that?

Note, I’m not saying that I ask these questions or that all women do. I’m just saying that a respectable number of my friends do. I’d classify this group as high-income, well-educated women who have disposable income and enjoy music, theater, travel, etc. I recently polled them on Facebook, and the overwhelming response I got was that they would never dream of spending as much as $15K on a stereo. They would spend that and more, however, on a vacation.

Innovative Answers to These Questions

Frankly, I was blown away when Jack and I visited Napa Acoustics and looked at their innovative Series 3 Wireless Planar Speaker System and their Series 3 Planar Speakers and Acoustic Treatment. I don’t think that I’m the only one who is blown away as they received the Most Innovative Design at the recent California Audio Show where Jack listened to them and thought they sounded very good. With these products, Joseph Kwong, President of Napa Acoustic and an electrical engineer, has, in my opinion, provided answers to my friends’ questions.

Napa Acoustic Series 3 Wireless Planar Stereo System

These speakers can be mounted on a wall.

While you will still want to hang them strategically for the best sound, there’s no longer an issue of having to place these speakers out from the wall. Each Series 3 Planar Speaker contains a 21.5” carbon fiber planar full range driver and a 1” silk tweeter and is a mere 26” high by 24” wide with a depth of 5”. Napa Acoustic also sells these without the driver and tweeter as 4” acoustic foam panels.

The Series 3 Wireless Planar Speaker System contains two 19” carbon fiber planar full range drivers and two 1” silk tweeters and an integrated amp that is Class D stereo, 25 watts per channel. For a source, this system is wireless for Bluetooth 4.0 or optional Wi-Fi. The system is still a very manageable size at 36” wide by 24” high with a depth of 3”.

These speakers help eliminate ugly cables.

The design of the speakers and the speaker system goes a long way toward eliminating the “ugly cables” problem. While both the speakers and the system still have to be plugged into an electrical outlet, and you will need to connect the speakers to other components in your system, it’s much easier to hide or cover cables from a wall-mounted unit than from a speaker sitting on the floor and out from the wall. The design is ideal for a home theater, and the sound quality is there to please an audiophile according to Kwong.

These speakers can be customized to suit your decor.

Now, this really got my attention. Think of your favorite vacation photos or even family pictures. Any image that is 300dpi can be silk-screened onto a speaker or the speaker system. And, the printing process takes about 10 days. This is really the first practical approach I’ve seen that makes it possible to have stereo speakers that fit the style of a room.

While there will always be a place for the beautiful rich wood tones and grain patterns of cabinet speakers from companies like Burwell & Sons, DeVore, Teresonic and others; the Napa Acoustic planar speakers are not meant to replace cabinet speakers.

In fact, Napa Acoustic also includes a speaker with a beautiful cabinet in their product line. The planar speakers fill a void for customers who want a custom look for a smaller space, home office, home theater or other spots.

These speakers are reasonably priced.

If you’ve gone to an audio show lately or read our show reports, you probably realize that systems have increased dramatically over the years. In fact, in one report on the Los Angeles Audio Show, Jack (The Beatnik) asked, “Is $100,000 the New Normal?” Well, again, the planar speakers and the planar speaker system are priced very reasonably. The speakers are currently at an introductory price of $395 each and the planar speaker system starts at $995.

So, my only question is, why did it take so long for a company to come out with an approach to speakers that is practical, customizable and affordable? I can see the planar speaker system on the wall of our master bedroom. You might just see it too if you come for a visit. It won’t replace Jack’s Teresonics, but it could definitely have a place in another room in our house.