Since HomeToys.com began over 15 years ago we have always had a passion for products we feel are innovative, creative and are helping move this AV industry forward. When I saw the press release for the launch of the IAV LightSpeaker come across my email a few months back I was intrigued. Basically this is a self-contained wireless speaker and lighting system where each speaker fits into your standard 5” & 6” pot lights with standard Edison sockets, no speaker wiring needed.
For more information on IAV LightSpeaker check out this recent interview we did with them.
Not only did this look like an innovative product it also looked like it may be the perfect solution for my home audio needs. Since buying this home 3 years ago I have been searching for a solution to match our music listening habits. It had to be simple enough for all to use but at the same time I knew the way we store and listen to music was rapidly changing. Given that I was not prepared to invest in multi room audio system with all the wiring and controls. Last year I got myself the Kindle Fire and as the year evolved it became our preferred music playing device, streaming Pandora while also storing all of our purchased music in the Cloud. So with the introduction of Tablets I am convinced this will be my choice for a music player over the foreseeable future. With that the next step is to integrate a multi room audio system. With the IAV LightSpeaker system I am hoping to have the convenience and simplicity of streaming music from a tablet while still getting a quality wireless sound throughout my entire house and yard.
Here is an overview of my IAV LightSpeaker multi room system.
1 Controller & Remote:
- The controller is setup near the TV; the system has 2 sources & 2 zone capability.
- I am using Source 1 for music (Kindle Fire) and Source 2 for TV surround sound.
- Zone 1 is for community areas and Zone 2 is for private rooms (keep in mind each speaker will only work when the light switch it is connected to is in the ON position, more on this later.)
- 2 LightSpeakers in the Great room – placed over the couch for music listening and TV surround sound.
- 1 LightSpeaker in the Garage – we have a finished garage that acts more as a kids playroom then a garage (below I explain the reasoning behind just 1 speaker).
- 1 AudioRock by LightSpeaker on the outside back patio.
- 1 LightSpeaker in Daughters room
- 1 Light Speaker in my office
Lets start with the installation of each speaker. On the IAV LightSpeaker website they have Tutorials on installation (http://www.iavlightspeaker.com/installation-video.html) and the instruction manual included with the system is well written and illustrated. But truth is; installation requires just a few extra steps beyond replacing a light bulb. So I will quickly summarize what is involved below.
- Make sure to set the Zone & Left or Right speaker switches on the speaker.
- Remove the light bulb, socket plate & trim ring from your standard 5” or 6” pot light.
- Fit one of the 2 white trim rings provided to your speaker.
- Set the SimpleTabs (these secure the speaker within the pot light).
- Screw in the speaker to the standard Edison light socket.
- Push the speaker into the pot light.
- Follow the instructions for Pairing the speaker with the controller. This is a fully automated process that teaches the controller where each speaker is located and allow you to control each zone separately as well as making your system secure from other nearby systems. The process involves simply pressing a button and turning on your light switch.
For an integrator each speaker would take just a couple minutes of setup, for the average home owner, less than 10 minutes total.
As I mentioned above the controller gives you 2 Audio Sources. Your cabling options include:
- RCA to RCA Cable
- RCA to Stereo Mini Plug Cable
The fixed controller and the Remote Controller are controlled and setup in exactly the same manner.
- Choose the Source to listen too.
- Choose the Zone to control.
- Turn the lights on and off and dim. Comes equipped with a dimmable LED light rated to over 40,000 hours.
- Adjust the volume and mute.
Both the controller and remote are small in size and black / grey in color. So they are both easy to use and aesthetically appealing.
Now that we have talked installation let’s move on to performance.
Since this is a wireless speaker system the main concern is always going to be sound quality and maintaining a constant strong signal without interference.
My experience with wireless speakers has taught me that signal strength is everything, and the main issue I have had in the past is when you try to use a smart phone or tablet to play musick without an amp; they simply don’t have the power to deliver a strong enough signal for a quality consistent sound. Each LightSpeaker has an internal 20W amplifier that delivers a solid signal to the 3.1” woofer addressing this issue.
The spec on the speakers is for a 50 foot radius circle from the controller and it operates on what IAV calls a 2.4GHz proprietary signal. The speaker located in my garage is near 50 feet away from the controller and the signal must travel through an exterior wall and a garage door. To date I haven’t experienced any loss of signal or interference with the speakers. So signal strength test is passed with flying colors.
Now for sound quality, we will start with the 2 speakers positioned in our living room over the couch; acting as both TV surround sound and music listening (speakers include Left or Right setting). Performance of this setup has exceeded my expectations. I am getting a clean crisp stereo surround sound with plenty of pop; no feedback, no cut outs or interference. For the average listener they would have difficulty deciphering between this wireless speaker and a mid-level wired in ceiling speaker.
On a side note, IAV does offer a wireless SubWoofer that I did not incorporate into my home system. The folks at IAV LightSpeaker openly suggest giving the speakers a try without the SubWoofer as they feel the speakers alone pack enough punch and I totally agree. The 2 Speakers alone provide enough pop for the average listener; they won’t rattle your walls like a SubWoofer can, but it is nice to not have to take up the room space with that SubWoofer.
For the rest of the speakers I have a bit of a unique setup. My home which was built in the 60’s was wired for lights in the bedrooms, garage and office with just a wall sconce rather than overhead lighting. Since moving in we have put overhead lighting in the form of ceiling fans on remotes which essentially rendered these wall sconces unnecessary. That is until IAV LightSpeakers. I just replaced the standard light bulb with the LightSpeaker and now I have the convenience of just walking into that room, hitting the light switch and music is playing. I was concerned since this setup only had 1 speaker in each of these rooms, but the sound is completely adequate and little is missed from a 2 speaker setup.
IAV also offers a Lamp Kit to convert your table lamp into a wireless speaker.
For outdoor use we have AudioRock, a weather proof rock shaped speaker that sets up in minutes. The AudioRock is one of the nicer looking artificial rock speakers I have seen, it comes with a removable rechargeable battery that provides 8 – 10 hours of power and the range on this speaker is up to 125 feet from the controller. Since it is designed to operate in open space it comes equipped with a 5 1/4” woofer, dual ¾” tweeters and the drivers are angled upward 20 degrees for ground level placement. This combination provides a full sound and the same quality signal and performance seen in the LightSpeaker. My only issue with the AudioRock is it does not have an alternate power source, so if I have forgotten to charge my battery I don’t have the ability to plug it in, a problem that can be solved by having a backup battery on hand.
Lastly, I want to bring up a few points I think are important to know prior to purchase for yourself or recommending to a client.
The LightSpeaker is replacing your standard light bulb in a pot light; I have found many pot lights are grouped in sets of 4+ lights on one wall switch. If this is the case you may have LightSpeakers operating with regular lights on the same switch, this does have some consequence.
- LightSpeakers only work if that light is turned on. So even if it is midday and you have plenty of natural light in your house, if you want to listen to music the lights must be turned on. The LightSpeaker remote allows you to turn of those lights but your regular lights will still be on.
- Since many pot lights are put on a dimmer switch themselves this will conflict with the LightSpeaker dimmer that operates off the remote control. Meaning to dim the lights you will have to adjust both the LightSpeaker and the remaining pot lights separately.
I haven’t had much of an issue with this as I have just adjusted all lights to a setting that is used majority of the time and back and forth dimming is for the most part eliminated.
So what is my final conclusion on the IAV LightSpeakers? We love them; it has been the perfect solution for our application. It is a quality product and is offered at an affordable price (my system would retail for under $1500) making it a great simple solution to bring multi room audio to small homes, apartments and condo’s. It is simple enough to install that it can be purchased as a DIY project, but at the same time an AV installer can feel comfortable to offer this to clients who aren’t prepared to tear up walls for speaker wiring.
This type of product innovation and execution is exactly what we love to see and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for IAV LightSpeakers.