Niles Audio AT8700 User Manual

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I N S T A L L A T I O N & O P E R A T I O N G U I D E










Thank you for choosing Advanced Technology In-WallLoudspeakers from Niles. With proper installation and operation, you'll enjoy years oftrouble-freeuse.

Niles manufactures the industry's most complete line of custom installation components and accessories for audio/video systems. For a free full line catalog write: Niles, Catalog Request, P. O. Box 160818, Miami, Florida 33116-0818




















































©1999 Niles Audio Corporation. Because Niles strives to continuously improve its products, Niles reserves the right to change product specifications without notice. Niles, the Niles logo and Blending High Fidelity and Architecture are registered trademarks of Niles Audio Corporation. BumpBack, X-Matrix,DSFG, LinearTrack and MicroSensor are trademarks of Niles Audio Corporation. Dynamat is a trademark of Dynamic Control Dolby is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation. Decora is a registered trademark of Leviton Manufacturing Co.


The AT or Advanced Technology group of In-WallLoudspeakers are designed to deliver truly stunning performance with optimum installation flexibility. All models in the AT series are constructed using the highest quality components and utilize advanced materials technology to create speakers capable of reproducing both music and movie soundtracks with stunning realism and sonic impact. They are perfect anywhere that quality of sound is the most important consideration.

An AT8500/AT8700 Series Speaker Kit; AT8000 Series Bracket Kit; and an AT8000 Series Frame/Grille Kit are required to install one pair of AT8500, AT8700 In-WallLoudspeakers in either new or existing construction.

Features and Benefits

Patent Pending Dispersion Control Array with Directed Sound Field Geometry(DSFG)

Both the AT8500 and AT8700 models employ Niles’ Directed Sound Field Geometry (DSFG). With DSFG, the tweeter is offset from the center of the dual midrange drivers. The resulting acoustic interaction between the dual midrange drivers and the offset tweeter directs the flattest frequency and phase response approximately 15 degrees off-axisfrom the tweeter.

By mounting this innovative midrange/ tweeter design on 360 degree rotating and 30 degree swiveling low diffraction Dispersion Control Array, the AT8500 and AT8700 models can deliver pinpoint imaging and optimum phase and frequency response regardless of speaker placement or listening position.

High Performance Woofer and Tweeter Designs

Both the AT8500 and AT8700 models incorporate woofer designs which feature cast aluminum frames, vented pole pieces, custom debris screens, inverted dust caps, butyl rubber surrounds, and Niles BumpBack™ magnet structure to provide powerful and accurate bass response. Additionally, the AT8700 features a bi-filervoice coil winding which enhances the speaker’s already flat frequency response characteristics, lowers distortion, and increases the woofer’s efficiency.

AT8500—Aluminum/UrethaneComposite Woofer

The AT8500’s 8” woofer is constructed of a composite of aluminum and urethane which is extremely light, highly efficient, and offers superior damping characteristics.

Dual Hyperbolic Aluminum/Urethane Dome Midranges and Tweeter

The AT8500’s dual 1-1/2”midrange drivers and single 1” tweeter incorporate the same aluminum/urethane composite used in the construction of the AT8500’s woofer. The result is a very natural sounding speaker capable of reproducing mids and highs with superb detail and accuracy.

AT8700—Aluminum/Titanium/UrethaneComposite Woofer

The AT8700’s 8” woofer is constructed of a three layer composite of aluminum, titanium, and urethane to offer unparalleled rigidity, excellent transient response, and very low distortion.

Dual Hyperbolic Dome Midranges and Tweeter

The AT8700’s dual 1-1/2”midrange drivers and single 1” tweeter all share composite design consisting of an inner aluminum layer that forms the dome, a stiffening layer of titanium, and a damping layer of urethane to kill unwanted resonances.

Patent Pending

Benefits and Features


Benefits and Features

Computer Optimized Crossover with Acoustical Configuration Controls

The second order Linkwitz-Rileycrossover is computer optimized and constructed of premium components for unparalleled sonic performance. Thebaffle-mountedTone Controls provide installers with Bass, Midrange and Treble adjustment in four increments(-2dB,Flat, +2dB, +4dB). Additionally, the AT8700 features a SubBass Boost control which adds 3dB at 60Hz to enhance the speaker’s low frequency performance if desired, and two Linear Track™ Filters. These controls can be used to fine tune the speakers performance or to compensate for less than ideal room acoustics.(For more information, see Setting the Tone Controls on page 20).

BumpBackWoofer Magnet

Niles engineers have utilized a unique magnet construction allowing far greater “throw” or voice coil excursion. This enables Niles AT loudspeakers to play louder without mechanical distortion or “bottoming”.

6 mm Polycarbonate X-Matrix

Reinforced Baffle

The AT8500 and AT8700 models feature an extra thick (6mm) polycarbonate, X-Matrixbaffle design which uses specially molded ribs to add rigidity to the baffle assembly. The end result is better bass and improved midrange detail.

Weather Resistant Construction

The AT8500 and AT8700 loudspeakers feature drivers which are impervious to moisture; the grille (sold separately as part of the AT8000 Series Frame and Grille kit) is made of aluminum, and all exposed hardware is constructed of stainless steel.

Absolutely Flush to the Wall Appearance

The unique mounting system of the AT loudspeakers securely clamps the frame to the bracket, sandwiching the wall material between them. Because the clamping action is totally uniform around the frame, there are no shadows or gaps between the wall and the frame. Additionally, the Niles mounting system is carefully optimized to stiffen the surrounding drywall and prevent it from resonating. You hear only the music, not the drywall.

Easy Retrofit Installation in your Existing Home

Designed for ease of installation, the Niles mounting system makes retrofit installations simple and fast. A supplied template assures fast and accurate hole cutting. The bracket slips behind the drywall and the screws secure the bracket to the frame, sandwiching the drywall between them. The speaker baffle attaches to the frame, and the grille mounts over the speaker.

Three Stage Installation System for Remodels or New Construction

You install only the parts you need for a particular stage of construction. When the framing and wiring are finished, you install the bracket. After the drywall is up, but before the painter begins to paint, you install the frame and provide the painter with the aluminum grilles so that they can be painted to match the surroundings. Only when construction is completely finished do you put the valuable speaker in the wall. You don’t have to mask or prep the speaker for painting, and worries about theft during the final phases of construction are never an issue!

Eight Ohm Impedance

The AT8500 and AT8700 speakers are designed to be compatible with most amplifiers. Their eight ohm impedance is an easy electrical load for most amplifiers to drive.

Low Diffraction, Paintable Aluminum Grilles

AT speakers are available with aluminum grilles. The powder-coatedaluminum grille has hundreds of precisely sized perforations, creating an acoustically transparent grille.

Infrared Sensor Mount

The speaker baffle has a locator designed for the Niles MS-1MicroSensor,™ a miniature infrared sensor. TheMS-1installs discretely behind the aluminum grille and therefore minimizes wall clutter in your home. When you want to control your equipment, you simply point your remote control at the speaker from up to 15 feet away.


Figure 1

Model AT8700 Shown

New Construction Wings



Speaker Baffle


Considerations Installation

Installation Considerations

Recommended Amplifier Power

For satisfactory performance, we recommend an amplifier with a power rating of twenty to two hundred watts for the AT8500 and AT8700 speakers. Curiously, most speakers are not damaged by large amplifiers but by small amplifiers. If your system is playing loudly, a small amplifier will run out of power very quickly. When an amplifier runs out of power it creates damaging “clipping” distortion. A large amplifier will play at the same volume without distorting. (For more information about clipping distortion, see the section on Operation, on page 20).

Incorporating a Local Volume Control

In a multi-roomsystem there is one indispensible control for trueconvenience—alocal volume control. It allows you to adjust the volume of the speakers without leaving the room.

Plan to wire the system so that each pair of speakers has its own volume control built into the wall (think of a volume control as a dimmer switch for sound).

Niles makes a wide range of high performance indoor and outdoor volume controls. They are available in Standard or Decora® style faceplates (just like your light switches and dimmers). Volume controls


Considerations Installation

are connected in line with the speaker, so you must connect the wire from the amplifier to the volume control and then from the volume control to the speaker.

Speaker Wire

Use 2-conductorspeaker wire when connecting AT speakers to your receiver or amplifier. For most applications, we recommend you use a minimum of 16 or 18 gauge wire. For wiring runs longer than 80 feet we recommend a minimum of 14 gauge wire. The gold plated binding post terminals of the AT speakers will accommodate up to 8 gauge wire directly. Banana jack or pin connectors may also be used.

An IR sensor requires that a 2-conductorshielded wire (West Penn D291 or equivalent) be home run from each sensor location to the main equipment location. This wire is normally run beside the speaker wire at the same time. Typically, the sensor is placed in a location that faces your listening position. Most remote controls will have an effective line of sight range of 18 to 30 feet with any Niles sensor placed in a wall, ceiling, on a cabinet or tabletop. However, when you place a NilesMS-1MicroSensor behind the perforated aluminum grille of a speaker, the sensor’s effective range is reduced to 9 to 15 feet.

When wire is to be run inside walls, special jacketing (CL-2orCL-3)is required to both protect the wire and for fire prevention. In some areas conduit is required. For atrouble-freeinstallation, low voltage wire such as speaker wire must be run in accordance with the National Electrical Code and any applicable provisions of the local building code. If you are unsure of the correct installation techniques, wire jacket or type of conduit to use, consult a professional audio/video installer, your building contractor, or the local building and inspection department.

Incorporating a Remote Control

If you are planning to use a stereo system with a hand held IR remote control, consider the advantages of installing a Niles IR Repeater System. You are able to control all of the functions of your system from the room with the remote pair of speakers. Niles makes a number of IR sensors which install in the wall, in the ceiling, in cabinetry, on tabletops, or even behind the grille of your Niles AT speakers.

Acoustical Treatment Options

For the best performance from your AT speakers, acoustically treating the surrounding drywall is suggested. In new construction installations, the most practical option is to block off the wall cavity both above and below the area where the speaker will be installed. This will create a “backbox” containing a specific volume of air in which the performance of the AT8500 and AT8700 speakers will be optimized. When installing the AT speakers in a standard wall (16” stud spacing with 2x4 studs) the suggested air volume would be 2540 cubic inches or 52” of space between the top and bottom walls of the “backbox”. If the speakers are to be installed in a 2x6 wall, a true backbox may be constructed using 1/2” or 5/8” thick Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). The dimensions of the enclosure may be varied in terms of height, width, and depth, as long as the interior volume of the enclosure remains approximately 2540 cubic inches. Although the AT speakers utilize an infinite baffle design which does not require the use of a backbox, critical listeners may


Wire size is expressed by its AWG (American Wire Gauge) number. The lower the number, the larger the wire, i.e. twelve AWG is physically larger than fourteen AWG.


appreciate the tighter bass and extended frequency response into the lower octaves that the use of a backbox (or blocking off the wall cavity) will provide. A hole cutting template is provided with the AT8000 Series Bracket Kit. The cutout for the speaker must measure 9-3/4”x17-1/4”.

Insulating the Wall Cavity

When it is not possible to use a backbox, good results can be achieved by treating the interior of the drywall cavity with Dynamat™ or a similar cabinet damping material. At least two linear feet of damping material should be adhered to the rear wall and to the front wall (one foot above and one foot below the cutout) of the wall cavity. Additionally, insulating the wall cavity behind the speaker with fiberglass insulation (e.g., R-19unbatted insulation) will improve performance. Try to keep the amount of insulation used for each speaker equal, as bass output will be more consistent. Further improvement can be made by wedging a brace of 1x1 stock between

the front and rear walls, both above and below the cutout. Use care when inserting the brace, as too much pressure will create a bulge in the wall.

Speaker Placement

The AT8500 and AT8700 speakers feature a low diffraction midrange/tweeter array which employs Niles’ DSFG. This innovative driver configuration can be adjusted to provide optimum phase and frequency response at the listening position. Please read Positioning the Midrange/Tweeter Array underInstallation of the Speaker and Grille in New or Existing Construction on page 17 before deciding on a final installation location for your AT8500 or AT8700 speakers.

Placement for Critical Listening

If you like to imagine that the band or orchestra is playing in front of you as you listen to music, or you are very conscious of























Figure 2



Placement Speaker


Placement Speaker

clarity, detail and the textures of the individual instruments, you are a critical listener. In a home theater, the intelligibility of dialog and action reproduced by the front speakers is paramount! The position of the speakers plays a very important role in how clear the sound is and how a stereo image is created. Here are some guidelines to make the process of placement quick and easy.

Make sure the sound will not be blocked or reflected off of furniture or other objects. You should have a direct line of sight with the front of the speaker. To determine the best position, measure the “listening” distance between the ideal listening position (your favorite chair or couch) and the wall in which you plan to install the speakers. Try to place the speakers so that they are equally distant from your listening spot and at least one half of the listening distance apart (this maintains a large pleasant stereo “image”). In home theater applications where there is a center channel you may choose to space the left and right main speakers farther apart for a “bigger than life” sound with Dolby® encoded movies and TV shows. However, for combined music and movie usage stay within the good placement zone for music. For example; if you are ten feet back from the wall, the speakers should be between five and ten feet apart(See Figure 2).

The Boundary Effect

Corners can affect the bass response of the speaker powerfully! This is called the boundary effect. You will emphasize particular bass frequencies and cancel out other bass frequencies when you place speakers close to the wall/ceiling boundary or a corner wall boundary. This can make the speaker sound excessively boomy and inaccurate to some listeners, while to others it just seems like more bass sound. A good rule of thumb is if you always listen to your current pair of speakers with the bass turned up, you’ll enjoy corner placement. If you keep your preamp or receiver’s tone controls at neutral, try to keep the speakers at least one or two feet from the boundaries of the room. The baffle-mountedAcoustical Configuration Controls may be used to help reduce the affect of corner placement (or the room’s own acoustics) on the speakers performance.(For more information, see Setting the Tone Controls on page 20).

Placement for Varying Listening Positions

If you want the freedom to sit anywhere in a room facing any direction, and/or find that you prefer the “all around you” sound of some car stereos to a conventional “sound stage” facing you, consider the speaker placement techniques professional installers use in restaurants and bars. They place


Figure 3

For an AT8700 placed above a TV, install the speaker with the tweeter up.

Not Greater

than 24"





speakers in an array around the listening area, so that the music is always surrounding you, regardless of the direction you face.

The rule of thumb is to add one pair of speakers for every 100 to 200 square feet of listening area. Curiously, this is not so that you can play the music louder, but so that you can play it softer! When you have only one pair of speakers in a large room you will notice that when the sound is perfect in one part of the room, it is too loud near the speakers. By placing more than one pair in the room you will avoid these “hot spots” of loud sound and create more sonic ambiance while maintaining clarity and rich sound everywhere.

You can make listener position even less critical by using mono rather than stereo. This can be difficult to achieve with normal

stereo amplifiers. However, Niles manufactures Systems Integration Amplifiers which enable one room to be wired in stereo while other rooms are wired in mono! Consult your local Niles dealer for more information.

In smaller rooms or rooms that are infrequently used, you typically can’t justify the expense of more than two speakers. Try to bracket the room with the two speakers. Diagonal placement is a very effective way to stretch the coverage pattern of two speakers. You can also compromise between direct sound (for detail and clarity) and reflected sound (the ambient or “all around you” effect). By trying to place the speakers so that they create as much reflected sound as possible, you emphasize the ambient effect. They can be up high in

Perforated Screen





Figure 4

For an AT8500 or AT8700 speaker placed below a projection screen, position the Midrange/Tweeter Array horizontally with the tweeter facing down. For an AT speaker installed behind a perforated screen, the Array should be positioned horizontally with the tweeter facing up if above ear level, or facing down if below ear level. The speaker itself may be installed either horizontally or vertically.

Placement Speaker


Placement Speaker

Figure 5

If the primary listening position is towards the back of the room as depicted in figure 5, place the rear speakers high up on the side wall or in the ceiling with the array closest to the ceiling as pictured.

the wall or even down low at power outlet height, in the ceiling, near corners, or directed at reflective objects and walls. The more reflected sound there is in the room the stronger the ambient effect at low volumes. You should use moderation, however, otherwise the compromise becomes too one sided and at high volumes the sound will be blurred and less distinct.

Placement for Rear Home Theater Applications

In a home theater, the goal is to reproduce the experience of a great movie theater in our homes. The biggest difference between the two is the rear or surround speaker array.

In a commercial theater, it is not uncommon to see twenty or thirty speakers around the audience. This huge array of speakers assures that you will feel completely surrounded by the ambient soundtrack of the movie. Film makers try to use the “surround” soundtrack to envelope you in the environment on screen. They will place background music, rain sounds, traffic noise, etc. on the “surround” soundtrack. In a home with a single pair of speakers it is easy for the jungle sounds to sound like they are “in the middle of your head” just like headphones!

A single pair of AT Loudspeakers, properly placed, can create a very convincing simu-

Figure 6

If the primary listening position is towards the center of the room as depicted in figure 6, place the rear speakers high up on the rear wall or in the ceiling as pictured.