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If you read this forum regularly, I know the name Noble Fidelity. They are one of a handful of speaker manufacturers that are taking the once horrid in-celieng speaker, and making it a true sonic contender.

Home Theater Review has reviewed many of the top brands in this category, including the original Noble Fidelity L-85. Today, I give to you the L-85 MK II review by Darryl Wilkinson.

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Darryl gives the L-85 MKII, a very favorable review. Here's an excerpt:

The L-85 mk II is the updated/upgraded successor to Noble Fidelity's original L-85 in-ceiling speaker and, as befits an architectural speaker company, the majority of the improvements are architectural in nature. For example, Noble Fidelity considered the original L-85 to be strictly an in-ceiling speaker. The L-85 mk II, on the other hand, ships with both round and square grilles, so it'll aesthetically look good mounted in the ceiling or in a wall. The only issue with in-wall mounting the L-85 mk II as either a main or surround speaker is enclosure volume. The L-85 mk IIs are designed for infinite baffle loading, and Noble Fidelity says they need at least 0.75 cubic feet of enclosure volume or the bass performance will begin to suffer.

The new L-85 mk II now uses a "frameless, zero bezel" grille design. Unlike the prior version, there is no frame or bezel around the grille that holds it in place. Instead, the L-85 mk II's micro-perf, magnetic, stainless steel grille is held in place by 24 beveled neodymium magnets spaced around the edge of the speaker face. Noble Fidelity isn't the only company employing magnetic, frameless grilles with its architectural speakers, but it is unusual in that the company includes both round and square-shaped frameless grilles in the box. The corners of the "square" grilles, by the way, are nicely rounded. As a result, I think they're actually more attractive than the round grilles, but that's just a personal preference. Since the grilles are magnetic, you can change them out whenever it suits your fancy (only use the round grilles on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; square grilles on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and one of each shape on Sundays ...). Noble Fidelity also enhanced the mounting system to include square-seating Dog Ears that are capable of clamping down to 0.3125 inches, which the company says provides for a "stronger, more positive and unifying mount to substrate mounting surface/material."




Some of Noble Fidelity's unique design aspects in the L-85 have carried over into the L-85 mk II. The new version retains the Tetoron one-inch, soft-dome tweeter and eight-inch mid/woofer made from native yellow, square-woven DuPont Kevlar fiber. (I assume that means it's bulletproof, but I decided it was best not to test my theory.) The L-85 mk II's pivoting, "lens-free" tweeter is pole-mounted, which is not surprising considering Noble Fidelity's categorical abhorrence and almost uncontrollable disdain for the common alternative designs. According to Noble Fidelity, pole-mounting is much superior to mounting the tweeter on a "bridge" spanning from side to side across the front of the midbass driver, because the footprint of the tweeter/mount in front of the midbass driver is much smaller with the pole-mounted configuration. The smaller footprint minimizes diffraction and early reflections that can destroy detail and imaging.
Do you have or would you consider using in-ceiling speakers for your audio or home theater system? I am seriously considering add a pair to my main theater.