I needed to find a decent pair of in-wall speakers for my loving room since my wife's cat decided to scratch the hell out of my Tritrix TL's. So I stumbled upon these budget-friendly in-walls by VM Audio. Here is my review of these surprisingly good performers for the $.
The speakers came triple boxed which was a nice surprise when I went to open them. Even if they were double boxed, they would travel fine because they also rest in a cardboard "cradle" that holds them securely during shipment. Inside they are covered by a protective piece of cardboard and also wrapped in a clear plastic bag. No packing peanuts!!! +1 VM Audio!!!
Ease of installation:
These install just like all of the other in-wall speakers with screw type mounting tabs that rotate into position and effectively clamp the sheetrock surrounding the opening. I had to make some slight modifications to the mounting tabs (cutting off 1/4") because my walls have 5/8" thick sheetrock instead of the typical 1/2" in most homes. The included cut out template was of cardboard-like paper which made for easy cutting of the openings. I took my stud finder and picked two stud cavities on either side of my wall-mounted TV and marked the center of where I wanted the speakers. I then leveled the templates with a bubble level and taped them into place, cut out the perimeter with a razor blade and then followed the guidelines with a drywall saw. The templates are an invaluable item to have and make for a simple, accurate hole for easy, yet snug installation. The templates were clearly marked for where to cut, however the measurements were off from what they needed to be (the text accurately reads the right size but the lines actually measure 0.7" less in both directions). I let VM Audio know of this issue and they're working on getting the templates fixed. Not a big deal at all but something to pay attention to. Once the holes were cut it was easy to connect the wires, slide the speaker in and screw it in place. The tabs work well to secure the speaker in the wall but don't over tighten them because you risk striping the mounting tabs. Over-tightening actually ruins the threads and makes them not as tight as if you hadn't. Just get them snug and they'll be fine. When at high volume I don't feel any air movement around the edges so they fit snugly against the wall. I already had fiberglass batt insulation in my walls and highly recommend having it within the cavity these get installed in. I had fished the CL2-rated wires down within the same stud cavity and installed speaker wall plates.
Overall Build Quality:
When you remove the metal grille you will find a thin dark gray foam pad that's secured by foam tape. This not only protects the drivers but also hides them once the grille is installed. A nice touch since if they weren't there, you would clearly see the bright yellow cone of the mid. The tweeter has it's own integral grille to protect it which is a great feature since it would be very susceptible to damage otherwise.
The plastic surround is of decent quality and will accept paint easily. I had planned on painting them to match my walls, but the soft white is a nice finish. The drivers are held in place with screws and the XO as well (I was expecting adhesive at this price-point). The spring loaded speaker terminals are my least favorite part of these speakers. They are flimsy and don't give me any confidence in the connections. I found a pair of male spade connection points under the XO (directly under the terminals) that I used instead. I'm glad they were there so I could get a much more secure, trustworthy wiring connection. Problem solved without any modifications, just needed female spade connectors!
Over the last two years I've only been using my living room AVR in stereo mode with a pair of speakers at a time. I've tried a pair of Dayton B-652's, my pair of DIY Tritrix TL's and a pair of Klipsch B-2's (during separate times) on the Onkyo TX-NR515. Now I'm giving the VM Audio WA-8 in-walls a chance and hopefully going to a 5.1 setup finally!
The tweeters are of excellent quality for the price of these speakers. They get loud and clear and don't sound "tinny" or too "bright". They're also not muted nor shrill. They're very pleasant to listen to and when given the chance I'll pull out some of my old live jazz and blues CDs to see how great they perform. They are almost as smooth as the Dayton tweeter in my Tritrix TL's, and those are VERY nice for the money! To put them even close to those tweeters is saying a lot for a speaker in this price range. They sound WAY better than the Dayton bookshelves but aren't as dynamic or neutral as my Klipsch's (costing 3x as much). I had my Onkyo TX-NR515 volume up to 52 and these wanted more!
Side-note: The XO within my AVR was set to high-pass these at 80Hz with no other speakers connected and no sub (ordering a Dayton SUB-1200 soon). I plan on trying them with my higher powered Pioneer AVR soon to see how they handle more power.
I could not get them to break-up even with very dynamic movie soundtracks such as Transformers and Tron. I don't think they are as efficient as the published specs indicate since I had to turn up the volume much higher than other speakers I've used with this AVR. The midwoofer in these is of decent quality, however I think a more efficient driver would do better given that it has a tough time keeping up with the more efficient tweeter. Some may not notice this but I have discerning ears. Maybe a slight modification to the XO would help attenuate the tweeter some (L-pad?). But even with all of that said, I was pleasantly surprised by the output these mids had for such a modest price point.
For all intents and purposes, these speakers are in the low-budget category, however, they perform WAY better than I had anticipated and I will be ordering another three, one for center and a pair for rear surrounds to complete my living room 5.1 system. I had planned on going with a single 10" subwoofer to match these with but now I'm seriously considering going with a 12" to keep up! If you're looking for an excellent sounding, bang-for-your-buck in-wall speaker, you should seriously give the VM Audio WA-8 Elux's a try. For the price, they're worth the audition. I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I am!