Nowadays there’s no reason why speaker systems should take up loads of your precious living space. Wall mountable flatpanel systems are now all the rage because they can be installed out of harm’s way and blend-in more easily with your room’s interior. We’ve seen some excellent examples of this from Definitive Technology, KEF and Waterfall Audio, but Monitor Audio’s SoundFrame is about to take it to the next level.
SoundFrame is more than just a speaker system; it’s also a fashion accessory. The speakers’ super-slim dimensions make them easy to hang on the wall, and with a range of designer grille cloths they can also be used to decorate the room, just like hanging pictures on the wall. These grilles come in a range of different patterns and colours that can be matched to your own décor, or you can opt for portraits of rock ‘n’ roll icons like Keith Richards, Alice Cooper, Slash and Thin Lizzie, snapped by famed photographer Ross Halfin.
But as you’d expect from a respected audiophile brand like Monitor Audio, SoundFrame is much more than just a pretty face. The same audio tech found in the company’s full-size speakers has been squeezed into these slender picture frame-sized enclosures, which means there should be plenty of substance behind the style.
We were sent a SoundFrame system comprising four SF1 speakers for the front and rear channels, a taller SF2 for the centre channel, and the Radius 370HD subwoofer, deemed to be a suitable bass partner for the SoundFrame system. The speakers in our system are of the on-wall variety, with keyhole fixings on the back for easy mounting, but there are in-wall versions of each that come with pre-attached brackets for secure fitting inside a wall cavity. In both cases a gloss white, gloss black or paintable grille frame can be clipped onto the front to complete the look.
Pretty they may be, but the style is backed up by stunning build quality. Both the SF1 and SF2 are housed in a sealed box that measures just 87.5mm deep. Everything is amazingly solid and sturdy to the touch, making you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
The SF2 speakers measure 790(h) x 240(w)mm compared with the dumpier 539(h) x 389(w)mm dimensions of the SF1, which makes SF2 suitable for use as a centre speaker when mounted horizontally, or as front speakers placed either side of a larger TV.
Some speakers look better with their grilles off, but not SoundFrame's. Without them, they sport a stark, industrial look, with light grey trims around the drivers, and a recessed panel at the bottom that houses the cable binding posts. Inside this is a hole that allows you to feed the speaker cable through from behind and connect it to the terminals, which leaves everything looking nice and tidy when it’s fitted flush to the wall.
Obviously they look at their best when covered up by the grilles, and these come in a range of photographic designs (sunsets, flowers, pebbles, that sort of thing), illustrative patterns, more sedate colour schemes (sky/ocean blue, sandstone, grey and burgundy) and of course portraits of rock legends – all of which are incredibly tasteful
What’s more, the Radius 370HD subwoofer is quite possibly the most stylish we’ve encountered. That’s primarily due to the achingly gorgeous black lacquer finish, but the convenient top-mounted silver control panel and curved corners are the icing on the cake. Substantial silicone rubber feet guard against unwanted resonance.