Krix @ Studio M

HOME CINEMA: Krix Symmetrix / Atmospherix AS / Seismix 3

The emergence of immersive sound has changed home cinema. New soundtracks in Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D make use of ceiling speakers to deliver height as well as surround. Where once we had 5.1, now we have 5.1.2 (adding two ceiling speakers), or 5.1.4, or 7.2.4, or… well, Atmos soundtracks are designed to scale to whatever size of installation you care to consider. South Australia’s Krix recently demonstrated a 24.10.10 system, and even that’s not the end of it, since Dolby Atmos allows for up to 64 discrete speaker feeds.

But that’s a level only a commercial cinema would require, and a sizeable one at that. To
prove the capability of a more real-world system, Krix invited us to Metricon’s ‘Studio M’ Selection Centre in Bella Vista, Sydney, where a demonstration Krix system is installed and operational.

7.2.2 in action
‘Studio M’ allows Metricon home buyers to explore every option available in their new home, from kitchens to bathrooms to a dedicated home cinema. Stratus Integrated Systems oversees the electrical, home automation and theatre specifications, and showed us how simply the choices can be made, using a wall-screen CAD plan of the Metricon home to place light switches, sockets, etc, right up to a full Krix audio package — a few more clicks and out comes the package price.

The theatre room on demonstration was not large, a three-seater cinema with 108-inch-diagonal Severtson screen, a Denon AVR-X4400H receiver driving a full Krix immersive sound system of 7.2.2 channels. So that’s seven of Krix’s high-value Symmetrix in-wall speakers, with three of them behind the acoustically-transparent screen, two on the sides just in front of the seating, and two fairly close in to the centre as rears.

Two Atmospherix AS in-ceiling speakers handle the height information, with two Krix Seismix 3 active subwoofers, now in Mk6 version, positioned symettrically in corner cabinets.

ABOVE: With the screen removed, the three Krix Symmetrix in-walls for LCR are revealed.

We’re always being told that home cinemas are sold on the experience, not on the kit, so let’s start with that. The system delivered full surround immersion, with steering of effects highly effective between ground and ceiling, as demonstrated by various Atmos test material, including the essential ‘Leaf’ where a sycamore seed flutters fully around the room. The speaker combination could deliver fair levels for big action scenes, and the steering had bullets and shells flying all around in the Wonder Woman No Man’s Land sequence, playing in UHD from an XBox, a source that David from Stratus noted is useful for demonstrating both movies and gaming without unnecessary delays between the two. Back on Blu-ray the Game of Thrones ‘Wildfire’ explosion sequence was given satisfyingly expansive thrumm as the flame spread across the soundstage; Mad Max: Fury Road’s intro sequence was similarly expansive, though not with the deepest sub bass or richness of dialogue we’ve heard from larger set-ups. Bass was a tad soft when we played music in surround, though we noticed bass varying with our listening position significantly; we gather the bass response was due for some more tuning.

Atmospherix AS
Doing the height thing, the two Krix Atmospherix AS speakers (right) were unobtrusive visually — indeed their circular grilles are paintable, and while many will darken them to prevent any unwanted reflections from the screen illumination, in the demo room they were white, to match a white ceiling. The grilles are rust-resistant stainless steel and snap into place with magnets — easy to attach, easy to remove.

Behind the grille each Atmospherix has a 130mm doped curvilinear paper cone as a mid/bass driver, backed by a large magnet assembly and a copper shorting ring, plus a 26mm ring radiator tweeter. Krix favours the ring radiator style of tweeter in many of its speakers — they avoid the bell-resonance dome break-up modes of dome tweeters, and are credited with cleaner more extended treble.

Krix has a habit of taking the moving parts from its fine floorstanders and engineering wall enclosures to fit (for example the Krix Epix are installation versions of the highly regarded Krix Neuphonix). Here these pictured Symmetrix speakers have similarities to the company’s former Tryptix model — the same tweeter and drivers in a similar internal volume, but with a crossover modified to suit the in-wall design. They are arranged as two-way speakers, each with the same size 26mm ring-radiator tweeter as the ceiling speakers, but here with two 100mm bass/midrange drivers, one above and one below the tweeter. The tweeter has a wave-guide centre plug and uses a neodymium magnet, while the bass/midrange drivers feature 25mm voice coils and high-temperature Kapton formers; their impedance is six ohms and their sensitivity a friendly 90dB; the Denon in this set-up clearly had no trouble driving them.

One crucial differentiator with Krix in-wall and in-ceiling speakers is that they are always properly boxed, enclosed within the wall and not, as do many rivals, simply sending their rear energy randomly out into the wall. Krix’s Don MacKenzie, who was at the Metricon demo, cited three advantages of back-boxes — firstly it keeps the speakers safe from dust and insects; secondly it hugely reduces sound escaping through the walls; and lastly but not leastly, it makes the speakers predictable performers, allowing cinema designers control over both design and sound. Why doesn’t everyone box their in-walls this way then? Because it costs money. So when you find an enclosed in-wall speaker, you know somebody cares about quality. Impressively, also, the Symmetrix speakers still fit within the depth of a standard 70mm wall cavity.

So in summary, this full system performed excellently for the price (which for Krix speakers, Denon AVR, Sony projector, screen and install is $24,995). We were impressed that the package included a native 4K Sony projector (see the full equipment list below), while the high-value Krix speaker components proved their ability to deliver fully immersive and powerful surround sound even in the relatively limited space of a three-seat cinema. But perhaps what impressed us most was how easy Stratus and Metricon’s ‘Studio M’ teams have made it to choose and purchase the system of your choice. No technical decisions required: just the right experience, at the right price.

Krix Symmetrix / Atmospherix AS / Seismix 3

+ Fully immersive Dolby Atmos sound
+ ‘Concealed’ in-wall & in-ceiling speakers
+ Suitable even for small cinema rooms
+ Metricon makes the room planning simple
-  Uneven bass response during demo

System we experienced:
108-inch Severtson screen; Sony VPL-VW260ES 4K projector; Denon AVR-X4400H AV receiver;  AppleTV; XBox One X; Room One seating; Artnovian acoustic treatment; Control4 remote control;
7 x Krix Symmetrix in-wall speakers: $695 each, painted grilles extra;
2 x Krix Atmospherix AS in-ceiling speakers: $445 each;
2 x Krix Seismix 3 Mk6 subwoofers: $1195 each in standard black wood grain;

Metricon Homes:
Stratus integrated Systems:

Krix Loudspeakers
Telephone: 08 8384 3433