In-depth: Amina Invisible Speakers training

posted on Monday, 20th May 2013 by David Slater

Architectural  Training  Loudspeakers  Amina 

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Amina loudspeakers have been on the radar for many years now; I first used them some ten years ago. The brand was formed by Richard Newlove in 1999 and its original plaster-over speaker, more correctly described as a Distributed Mode Loudspeaker (DML), came along in 2001. Since then the technology has evolved in leaps and bounds.

Amina training courses take place at a variety of venues, including the brand's Huntington base in Cambridgeshire and in Central London, and are free of charge. They provide a fascinating insight into the technology behind these music makers, as well as the benefits they can bring when used correctly. To learn more Inside CI sat in on a session. Our training day began with a discussion about the physics of under-plaster speakers: in the delegate pack given to us upon arrival was a tuning fork and an Amina DML panel. Our presenter hit the fork off the desk and then touched the panel - the sound was amplified massively; hundreds of tiny vibrations amplified by the lightweight aluminium honeycomb composite panel soundboard. It was a compelling demonstration of just how effectively the technology works.

One point which very quickly came over is that you don't need to install as many invisible speakers in a commercial environment, as you might traditional enclosures. The panels are extremely non-directional, and always appear to always be facing the listener, regardless of their actual location. Wet rooms and swimming pools were shown as another example where the speaker can plastered over and sealed with paint, therefore becoming totally waterproof. 

The course guides attendees through the wide range available, starting with AIW150E (£495 each plus VAT), up to the high performance AIW750E (£1,675 each plus VAT). The high-end CI market is the target arena for plaster-in speakers, and as such they will probably always be more expensive than traditional enclosures. High-end projects on show were from The Coworth Park Hotel and One Hyde Park apartments. The wealth of knowledge around the table on our course was amazing: we had a collection of high-end installers who were already specifying and installing Amina products, the calibre of their jobs already on display in Amina's presentational material.  

How to specify Amina Invisible speakers
Very quickly, the course was covering the brand's Evolution line. Significantly better in sound quality than the older range, units come in different sizes and power ratios; the jewel in the crown is the AIW750E which at 1m can hit 110dB. Throughout there were some very interesting conversations going on with people asking questions- some really good questions; this level of interaction should help installers work out problems way before they are going hit on site. A shared knowledge base is a great resource for you to take away with you. One practical solution offered with the speakers is an acoustic back box designed to reduce the reaward transmission of sound. The high end model, the AIW750E, comes in a two panel form factor and you will need to install a 4 core cable. The reason for the two panels? One does high/mid frequencies and the other panel caters for the low end.

The course goes into some depth debating the positioning of speakers; what is good practice and potenial pitfalls, such as dampness in walls or even heat rising from an open fire - aspects that you might not always think about if you're too busy to double check instruction sheets. 

It's here the course really rewards attendees. Sound transmission is crucial with any speaker fitted to a wall or a ceiling, and it's important Amina installers follow some simple rules, like fit only branded back boxes; the BackboxFS and BackboxFS-S200 claim to bring down sound transmission by about 20 per cent. One product that I was not aware of is the Amina ALF40, which is a passive bass enhancement device that ports out through the plaster board, you then just fit a vent cover to it. 

Included in the training pack are a large number of PDF files with handy AutoCAD drawings that will help installers at the specification stage. Self-evidently, the team's product knowledge is immense; they are genuinely there to make your job easier. If you have a particularly complex install, Amina will guide you through which is the most suitable product to use. In the past the team have even had interior designers send them wallpaper, which they then bonded to their panel and tested it out in their labs, a great service!

The afternoon agenda covers more in-depth installations, plus advice on how to test the DML speakers. One recommendation is a tone test from an Iphone app called Audiosizzle, or the Android app Waveform Generator Lite.

Verdict
The course itself flew by and by the end I felt as if I had learnt some really useful tips. In addition to new information, the session re-enforced tricks I did know with more confidence. The team behind Amina certainly know their stuff. It was time well spent. Finally, if you are considering invisible speakers, then you need to take a listen of the brand's new uprated Evolution series, they may not look like much but they sound awesome!

For more on Amina invisible speakers, visit our partner page here. Training dates are available on the Amina website. Call 01480 354390 for bookings.
Also read:
Audio upgrade for Amina Evolution speakers


David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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