Hardware Spotlight -- SpeakerCraft
Installing the SoundSource is a complete snap. You make a wall cutout of approximately 7.5 by 10 inches, and mount the supplied bracket into the drywall. Rotating clips keep the frame locked in, and when the bracket is locked, the SoundSource unit simply slides into the front. The screw holes to secure the main unit are eventually hidden behind the top of the face panel, making the cosmetics clean and "custom"-looking.
OPERATION AND IMPRESSIONS
Once the SoundSource is installed, it works pretty much like any other mini- or micro-stereo system. The CD door is vertically oriented, with a smooth door mechanism that feels like quality. The system is operated either at the front panel via small rounded buttons, or via a supplied remote control, which is of the flat "credit-card" type.
The function displays are well-lit by a florescent readout display. The display can be dimmed (a nice touch) and indicates the various source modes and CD functions. The CD player can repeat one track on one disc or all tracks on all discs — not the most versatile set of options, but probably more than sufficient for most intended applications. The tuner can remember 24 favorite stations, and locates them through manual or scanned searches. In another thoughtful touch, the system mutes while it's searching out signals strong enough for reception.
In practice, I really had a blast with the SoundSource. It sounded surprisingly good for such a compact system, when played through reasonable speakers. Since I do not have in-wall speakers in my setup, I tried the SoundSource with both TOA personal studio monitors and a pair of B&W LM-1 "Lifestyle" speakers. In both cases, the sound was punchier and better-defined than I expected, with ample dynamics from top to bottom. The little power amp that SpeakerCraft uses for this system is potent enough to let the kids upstairs rock the house if they so desire (and you know they do). My only complaint with the playback was that the volume control moves in rather coarse steps, making it difficult to get exactly the volume you want. But this is nitpicking from an unreformed audiophile, and I can't see this being a complaint with the product's target audience.