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Theory Audio Design’s sb25aw Surface Mount Loudspeakers Can Get Wet and Wild: CEDIA 2023

Looking for a pair of indestructible on-wall waterproof speakers for any outdoor commercial or residential space? The new Theory Audio Design sb25aw are full-range high-end options.

Theory Audio Design SB25AW All-weather Outdoor Surface Mount Speakers

Paul Hales of Theory Audio Design has always played the long game when it comes to product design and its introduction into the market; a business model that has served him well over the past 3 decades and one that has created some of the best loudspeakers that some of us have ever heard.

Having spent more than 3 months listening to the Theory Audio Design 5.2.2 Soundbar system, it remains my benchmark for home theater systems below $20,000 USD. There is no reason to spend your money elsewhere if that is your ceiling.

Build and engineering quality are state-of-the-art and its sonic performance forced me to rethink my long-standing disdain for soundbars and what could be accomplished with them in a dedicated media room.

You can spend a lot more than $20,000 (which includes an A/V processor) on a home theater surround system and not come close to what this system can do once you have everything dialed in properly.

Theory Audio Design SB25 On-wall Speakers
Theory Audio Design SB25 On-wall Speakers

One of the components of that system was the Theory Audio Design sb25 loudspeaker.

I was surprised by the depth of the loudspeakers which were clearly designed to be used in on-wall applications. Like the soundbar, they are designed to be powered by the Theory ALC and operate like an active loudspeaker.

The sb25 are the equivalent of a single channel on the soundbar, with the same specifications for the drivers and overall performance. They weigh 27 pounds and are 21.5″ H x 9.5″ W x 3.8″ D.

If you’re interested in a 2.0 or 2.1 system, the sb25 offer the same sonic signature and explosive dynamic capabilities of the larger soundbar in a smaller loudspeaker. The build quality on these loudspeakers suggests that they will survive longer than their owners.

Theory Audio Design SB25AW All-weather Outdoor Surface Mount Speakers Rear
Theory Audio Design sb25aw

The Great Outdoors

The outdoor CI market has grown rather significantly over the past decade; primarily because consumers are entertaining more in the backyard and by the pool. The pandemic created a surge in interest with tens of millions of families stuck at home and unable to attend live music, sports, movies, or even travel.

Commercial applications are seemingly endless and we’re seeing high-end loudspeaker systems installed almost everywhere; a recent trip through the airport in Houston gave me the opportunity to enjoy a pair of Devialet Phantom loudspeakers that were aimed at my dining table.

The outdoor scenario, however, comes with its own set of issues.

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Weather is not something that one can control and one has to think carefully before installing an outdoor TV, amplification, and loudspeakers. Insects, rodents, rain, snow, wind, intense heat and cold can ruin electronics really quickly if you don’t buy products that are designed to handle it.

The new Theory Audio Design sb25aw are a 4-ohm or 70V/100V version of the company’s sb25 surface mount loudspeaker and really designed to take a lot of abuse. The tentative pricing is $1,350 USD each but that might change according to the company.

You do need to use one of the Theory DLC’s (Distributed Loudspeaker Controllers) to make this work and perform at its best.

The all-aluminum and stainless steel sb25aw is fully weatherized and offers mounting options to meet every possible installation need, including porches, patios, pool decks, backyards, restaurants, bars, hotels, houses of worship, marine, and anywhere high-resolution, high-fidelity background or foreground sound is needed. 

The sb25aw incorporates a durable perforated stainless-steel grille, water-tight loudspeaker wire entry point, and selectable hi-z or low-z operating modes. Its slender enclosure, premium finish, and gentle sculpted curves allow it to virtually disappear into the architectural background while looking surprisingly handsome in environments where it’s easily seen – stealth and pretty at the same time.

Theory Audio Design SB25AW All-weather Outdoor Speaker Rear

The sb25aw ships with z-clips for flat-to-wall mounting and the back panel has integral mount hole patterns for several high-quality third-party speaker mounts. An optional robust surface and pole-mountable yoke mounting bracket is also available.

A tabletop stand accessory allows the sb25aw to stand up on flat surfaces such as speaker stands, mixing desks, consoles, tabletops, and bookshelves both horizontally and vertically.

With available optional Universal Mount Adapter, the sb25aw can go anywhere and look sleek and unobtrusive doing it: pole from ceiling, pole from ground, onto any 75mm or 100mm VESA mount, and a number of pan-and-tilt wall and ceiling mounts from Adaptive Technologies.

Theory Audio Design SB25AW All-weather Outdoor Speaker Mounted on Pole

“There has never been a more compact and capable loudspeaker in the integrator system design toolbox,” said Paul Hales, CEO for Theory Audio Design. “Capable of astonishing range and output, and at less than 4-inches in depth, the sb25aw is a virtual acoustic Swiss army knife and will have system designers rethinking how they incorporate sound into their high-value projects. We expect that they will quickly learn to use this highly capable little speaker everywhere.”

Theory’s product ecosystem is unique in that offers many of the performance qualities of professional audio products – effortless dynamics, high efficiency, and rugged durability – but with the sonic delicacy, detail, and resolution of the best high-end high-fidelity products.

Add Theory’s intelligent full-system design approach, with automatically tailored loudspeaker DSP, and you get startling performance at tremendous value.

Key Features

  • Extruded and Machined Aluminum Construction with Perforated Stainless Steel Grille Designed for Indoor and Outdoor Use 
  • 2 x 5″ Theory Carbon Fiber LF Drivers 
  • 1 x 1.4″ Theory AdvancedPoly High Frequency Com­pression Driver on 125° Axisymmetric Waveguide 
  • Multiple Mounts: Z-Clip Surface (incl.), yoke mount bracket, pole, Vesa 75/100mm mount holes, ceiling and wall pan-and-tilt third-party mounts, tabletop stand.
  • Maximum 117dB/1m from Enclosure Only 3.8″ Deep 
  • Ultra-Wide 125° Conical Coverage (160°@10kHz, -12dB) 
  • 4-ohm or 70V/100V Operation
  • Weather Resistant

CEDIA Expo attendees can see the Theory Audio Design sb25aw in Theory’s booth #1543 and hear it in High Performance Audio Room 204. The sb25aw is available for pre-order now and will begin shipping in Q4 2023.

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