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Triad Factory Tour and DS4 Speakers

Tucked off in a nondescript business park just outside of Portland International Airport is Triad Speakers. You can be forgiven for thinking that this is likely the business side of Triad, while their assembly operations certainly have to be overseas somewhere, right? But inside you’ll go in and find one of the more amazing setups you have seen.

Triad Speakers was acquired by Control4 earlier this year, one of a number of acquisitions for Control4 recently. Control4 is designed to make your home, not just your AV system, easier and more user-friendly. Triad fits into that setup by allowing your music system to be as visible or invisible as you want it to be. When you think of custom install speakers, you usually think of something you’ll put inside a wall or ceiling. Triad goes much further, letting you truly customize your custom install speakers as much as you would like.

Do you want a high-end bookshelf speaker to go in your living room? That’s easy. Perhaps you want it to be wood grain, but not just any wood grain. You want it to match the built-in wood bookshelves you have in that room. And it has to be so high and so deep because those shelves are fixed into position. When your dealer brings this to Triad, they’ll say “Sure, and what level of speaker drivers do they want?”

Walking around Triad, you’ll quickly notice there are not finished speakers laying around, or stacked on shelves. The only speakers in the building that are finished are those that were built that day and are waiting for the FedEx or UPS person to come get them or the ones in their demo theater. You’ll see lots of raw MDF, CNC machines to cut it, booths to paint it, racks of drivers to select from to build them, and stations to test them. Even the packing materials for Triad are custom built from a local company so as not to take up extra space in the factory. I was at Triad two weeks ago, and by this point every speaker I saw being built, and most likely all of the MDF and boxes in there have been used and delivered to customers.

When you see this, you understand how they work with Control4. You can get any kind of speaker you want for your situation. A sound bar that’s the exact width of your TV? Some bookshelf speakers to go behind your projection screen along with matching in-wall surrounds and height channels? They can do almost anything, and having reviewed their Gold bookshelf speakers in the past, I can tell you they sound fantastic as well.

I wasn’t just there to see the factory, though. Instead, I was there to get a preview of a new speaker they had designed and were going to be showing at CEDIA this year. The new Designer Series is an in-wall speaker or subwoofer that is hardly visible but offers ultra-wide dispersion along with the ability to easily repair them if something goes wrong.

Triad DS4 Grill

This is all you’ll see once the DS4 is installed.

I had my own experience with installing speakers this past year. It required big cuts into drywall, lots of work, and they are clearly visible to people that come over. The Designer Series is completely hidden, aside from a single 4” round or square port that is flush-mounted to the ceiling. To have such a tiny visible area, it means most of the speaker components are hidden behind the ceiling. It also means that in almost all cases, you’re going to have to install them before the ceiling is put in, or during a major renovation. So what if something goes wrong once the speaker is installed, and stuck behind drywall?

Triad thought of this and designed it so all the drivers and crossovers are serviceable through the 4” opening. It’s easier to do if you have small hands and wrists like me, but you can pop off the grill, reach in, and replace any or all of the components. If a tweeter blows for some reason, it can be repaired without needing to pull the whole speaker out. It’s certainly much easier to do this than how much work it is going to take me if one of my speakers ever has an issue.


White kitchen Interior and living room in luxury home

Can you spot the speakers?

But this doesn’t matter unless it sounds good. The Triad demo units were not installed in the ceiling but were stand mounted for us in a conference room. Listening to Daft Punk as I walked around the room, the dispersion that the speakers manage is very impressive. I could walk from side to side, going almost even with the speaker itself, and still hear all the detail. They aren’t going to replace your full-range in-wall speakers with 6” or 8” drivers, but they aren’t going to disappoint when they are your in-ceiling speakers for the kitchen, bedroom, or living room.

Triad DS4 Exposed

Easy access to repair

We finally got to see them installed in the home of Triad founded Larry Pexton. He was installing them to serve at Atmos channels in the ceiling, while other Triad in-ceiling speakers served the role of the five main channels. The DS4 speakers were almost impossible to notice in the ceiling, and the speaker system combined with an LG OLED showing Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation made for a great viewing experience. The system had no components taking up space in the room at all, just a TV mounted to the fireplace (but thankfully not too high) and a speaker system hidden in the ceiling.

The Designer Series currently has two models, the DS4-FR Full range with a 2.5” full-range driver and a pair of 3”x6” woofers and the DS4-SUB with three 3”x6” woofers. Each is $1,400 and is available now from Triad. Before we left, we had to get a demo of the Triad theater in an Atmos environment. There were two systems, one using their Silver bookshelf speakers and one using the Cinema Reference line. With four 21″ subwoofers they could easily fill the room with as much bass as anyone could handle, but tuned it to reference levels that sounded fantastic.

This speaker is the first product from the Control4-Triad partnership, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else they will have at CEDIA this year and beyond. I’m certain they’ll continue to find ways to integrate music into your life but without having it need to be the focal point of the room it is in.

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Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, the film’s storyline continues the team’s quest as the traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians (Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, and Bradley Cooper as Rocket) must fight to keep their newfound family together as the unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand. (more…)

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not. (more…)

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Ghost in the Shell UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: Set in a world where people are enhanced with technology, GHOST IN THE SHELL follows Major (Scarlett Johansson), who believes she was rescued from near death.  The first of her kind, Major is a human mind inside an artificial body designed to fight the war against cyber-crime. While investigating a dangerous criminal, Major makes a shocking discovery – the corporation that created her lied about her past life in order to control her. Unsure what to believe, Major will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery of her true identity and exact revenge against the corporation she was built to serve.  A “visually stunning” (Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly) “classic in the making” (Dan Casey, Nerdist), GHOST IN THE SHELL also stars Takeshi Kitano, Michael Carmen Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han, and Juliette Binoche. (more…)

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Kong: Skull Island UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: This compelling, original adventure tells the story of a diverse team of scientists, soldiers, and adventurers uniting to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific, as dangerous as it is beautiful. Cut off from everything they know, the team ventures into the domain of the mighty Kong, igniting the ultimate battle between man and nature. As their mission of discovery becomes one of survival, they must fight to escape a primal Eden in which humanity does not belong. (more…)

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Smurfs: The Lost Village UltraHD Blu-ray

Summary: In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history! (more…)

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The Fifth Element UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: New York cab driver Korben Dallas didn’t mean to be a hero, but he just picked up the kind of fare that only comes along every five thousand years:  A perfect beauty, a perfect being, a perfect weapon. Together, they must save the world. Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Gary Oldman star in acclaimed director Luc Besson’s outrageous sci-fi adventure, an extravagantly styled tale of good against evil set in an unbelievable twenty-third century world. Now presented in full 4K resolution, experience this dynamic action favorite like never before. (more…)

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Wren V3USP Speaker Review

The Wren V3USP is a spectacular wireless speaker option, with stunning looks, terrific build quality, and sound that easily surpassed other wireless speakers I’ve used. The footprint of the Wren V3USP is countertop friendly and fits in many household locations. Streaming options are plentiful, and while we don’t think DTS Play-Fi is as refined or reliable as other platforms, it works well enough. The inclusion of both Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect give easy-to-use alternatives to Play-Fi. We think the Wren V3USP is a refined sounding unit, with the looks to match – we are confident that many users will be quite happy with this speaker. (more…)

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Lego Batman UltraHD Blu-ray Review

Summary: In the irreverent spirit of fun that made The Lego Movie a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of the ensemble–Lego Batman–stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham City, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. (more…)

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