If you hate clutter around your home but you crave the immersive sound of a hi-fi setup, Q Acoustics may have the answer with its new installed audio system - and it's cheaper than buying a similar setup from Sonos.
The Q Acoustics E120 can be wall-mounted, and brings a display and control center to your existing speakers - or, if you want to complete hide your hi-fi system, it can be paired with the company's in-ceiling or in-wall speakers.
Once you've installed the E120 into your wall, you'll be able to wirelessly stream music via Bluetooth from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It also comes with DAB+ or FM radio, with five preset buttons allowing you to play your favorite station with a single tap.
Inside the E120 is a class D stereo amplifier, which has been optimized for Q Acoustics' in-ceiling and in-wall speakers, with the ability to pair with two or four devices. However, you could use the system with any pair of passive speakers, whether you want stereo or mono sound. The speakers themselves will need to be physically wired to the control system, but all the cables can run inside your walls for minimal mess.
You can also hook the E120 up to your TV, for what Q Acoustics describes as a "more immersive and dynamic" movie watching experience. A rear analogue audio output means you can plug it into a subwoofer for rumbling bass, an external power amplifier, or even another E120 system.
The E120's wall panel comes in black and white, so you should be able to find a design that fits in with your decor. Touch sensitive controls and a 3.2-inch color display show the track, artist, and album name when you're playing music, and an internal light sensor allows the screen to automatically adjust the brightness based on ambient light levels.
If you want to place the E120 in your bedroom, you can manually set the display to dim when you sleep, and an alarm function means it can double up as a bedside clock. And, thanks to an IP54 water resistance rating, you'll be able to place the E120 in your kitchen or bathroom without needing to worry about humidity or a splash of water breaking it. A splashproof remote control is also supplied, so you won't need to drag yourself out of the bath to adjust the volume.
A cheaper alternative to Sonos
A custom install can be an expensive prospect for audiophiles that want to hide their hi-fi system, but the E120 is an affordable option compared to the competition.
If you already have passive stereo speakers at home, you can buy the E120 for £429 when it launches at the end of April (US and Australian pricing is still TBC, but that works out at around $560 / AU$750).
However, Q Acoustics is offering some neat bundles to kick-start your hi-fi system. The E120 and a stereo pair of Qi65CB in-ceiling speakers for most indoor applications will set you back £499 (about $650 / AU$870), while the E120 and a stereo pair of Qi65CW Weatherproof 6.5-inch in-ceiling speakers for showers, bathrooms and verandas will cost £649 (about $850 / AU$1,130).
For comparison, a pair of in-ceiling Sonos speakers cost $659 / £599 / AU$999 alone, and you don't get a slick control hub to go with them.