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 David Kan
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: Marantz SA8260, Deltec PDM Two DAC, Restek Radiant, Assemblage D2D-1/DAC-3.1 Platinum, Philips DVP-9000S, Oppo BDP-83, Oppo BDP-95
Preamp: Symphonic Line RG3 MkIII, NuForce P9, Audio Zone PRE-T1, Dared MC-7P, Dared SL-2000A, KingRex PREference
Power Amp/Integrated Amp:
Symphonic Line RG4 MkIII, NuForce Ref 9 V2, NuForce Ref 9 V2 SE, Sim Audio Celeste W4070SE, Thorens-Restek MMA-5, Winsome Labs Mouse, Dared VP-20, Dared VP-16, JohnBlue TL-66, KingRex SQ-1, KingRex T20, Beomaster 6000
Speakers: Apogee Stage, Apogee Centaur Minor, Dynaudio Facette, Loth-X BS-1, Mark & Daniel Maximus-Monitor/Omni-Harmonizer/Ruby/Topaz/Sapphire/Diamond+, Mission m7c1i, Fostex FE126En (DIY)
Subwoofers: Yamaha YST-SW200, Yamaha YST-SW80, Infinity BU-1, Mark & Daniel Maximus Subwoofer, JL Audio10WX4 (DIY) 
Cables: Clearaudio Silver Line interconnect, Deltec Black Slink interconnect, Luscombe LBR-35 interconnect, OCOS speaker cables by Dynaudio, Aural Symphonic Digital Standard digital cable, Audience Conductor 'e' speaker cables and interconnect, various generic speaker cables and interconnect
Power Cords: Aural Symphonic Missing Link, Ensemble Powerflux, Symphonic Line Reference, various generic
Power Line Conditioning: Tice Power Block IIIC, Belkin PureAV PF60, Monster Power HTS-3500 Mk II (modified by NuForce), Monster Power HTS-1000 Mk II
Room Size: 15' x 13.5' x 7'/8' diagonal setup / 11' x 18' x 7'/8' opens to 18' x 19' x 7'/8', long wall setup, carpeted concrete slab floor, suspended ceiling and all walls finished with drywall (basement with small window on one side, which is concrete foundation wall with insulation) / 15' x 15' x 8' / 12' x 24' x 9' opens to 12' x 17' x 9' L-shape, short wall setup / 13' x 28' 8" x 9' with openings on one side to hallway and staircase, short wall setup, suspended hardwood floor, suspended ceiling and all walls finished with drywall, external wall finished with insulation inside and concrete on the outside.

1: Taking it to the top. What goes up can come down and make wonderful sound. Yes? The answer has always been right above my head just awaiting discovery. One ex-colleague’s reunion night took place at my house. When the conversation drifted onto a YouTube video of his daughter singing the beautiful "And this is my beloved" from the Kismet musical, I asked the promising young performer if she knew the original work. Her teacher obviously didn’t care too much about that. So I pulled out my favourite Borodin String Quartets album performed by the quartet that bears the Russian composer’s name. I played them the “Nocturno – Andante” movement from the Quartet No.2 in D major. The music must have been heavenly since everyone’s eyes gradually rolled up. I came back to reality when one of the gazers cheerily asked: “What are those on your ceiling?”

After the guests left, I vowed I’d get rid of those ugly plastic covers on my power boxes. They were there when we'd bought the house. The builder had made provisions for 5-channel ceiling speakers with prewired cables in conduits leading down to the corner in the family room where to hook up an amplifier. Modern luxury homes nowadays have speakers built in completed with remote-controlled multi-room audio systems. Mine only had unsightly plastic covers to keep the cables from dangling down. I had to do something.

Any audiophile with any pride would jeer at ceiling speakers. I heard them before and wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t believe I was contemplating buying and installing them now. Adding property value for an easier future sell was my only argument to convince the better half that we needed yet more speakers in the crib. I discretely counted. 70+ pieces large and small already were in place in every conceivable corner except for the master bedroom. But the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. was offering a deep discount on the Polk Audio MC60. I quickly compared its specs with other models to conclude that these had the lowest risk factor and highest value. I ordered five. Shipping was not only free but speedy and efficient. The goods arrived in perfect condition.
Mid/Woofer 1 x 6.5" dynamic balance polymer composite cone
Tweeter 1 x 3/4" silk dome
Frequency 4esponse 40Hz - 20kHz
Lower -3dB limit 60Hz
Upper -3dB limit 20kHz
Nominal impedance 8 ohms
Recommended power 20-100 w/channel
Efficiency 91dB

According to the Polk website the MC60 is the now officially obsolete entry-level model within the exceptionally large range of their ceiling speakers. Like most ceiling speakers, the MC60 is a round two-way design housing the woofer, tweeter and crossover network in one compact unit. Specifications are still available on their website.

With our drywall ceiling, installation was easy. The only trick was allocating and aligning ideal spots for all five speakers whilst avoiding cutting into joists, air ducts, plumbing or prewired electrical cables running to pot lights. That was tricky because I couldn’t see through the dry wall. Without the aid of thermal imaging I could only knock and listen. After identifying target zones I drilled small holes and then snaked in an L-shape steel wire to probe around a five-inch radius at 360°. That would give me more than sufficient clearance for the 8.3/16” Ø cut-out required. Depth between ceiling and floor above it was ample since the Canadian residential building code makes for 9.15" high joists and the MC60 requires only 3.7/8” depth to install.
The provisional cables the builder had left were far from audiophile – 18-gauge electrical power distribution wiring to be exact. But I had to live with that unless I braved the elements and tore down the ceiling. The five pre-allocated spots were left right and center but randomly chosen by an electrician who obviously had no passion for audio. That proved easy to adjust since the 2” thick joists are spaced 16” apart, allowing some room to manipulate for a cut-out 8.3/16” in diameter. After some careful negotiation I managed to determine all the five sweet spots as best I could and use the mounting template to trace the cutting holes. I wished the rear pair could have been a few feet further back but was hindered by a covert ceiling on the left.

Mounting required skills in lieu of a helping hand. First I had to hold the speaker with one hand and connect the speaker cables with the other. Do not remove the transparent paint mask yet. You need it for protecting the drivers from your fingers. Fortunately the speaker weighs only 4.35lb (1.97kg) and sports spring-loaded clip-on terminals. Next I removed the paint mask, placed the speaker into the ceiling hole and continued to hold it in position with one hand. Chin up standing on a ladder I turned the screwdriver with the other. The first quarter turn swung the plastic dog-ear clamp out 90° into retaining position. As the screw tightened, the clamp would be locked into a shaft from whence it couldn’t retreat. Polk calls this rotating cam-lock system. When all four clamps were in position, the speaker wouldn’t fall even though it was not yet fully tightened down. That was a good time to relax for a few seconds before finishing the job. Would a power drill have made it easier? Most likely but I didn’t use one for fear of slipping the screw bit and damaging a speaker.

Finally we come to the install positions, distances measured from center of speakers to the wall: L 24” from side wall, 20” front wall; center 17” from front wall; R 21” from side wall, 20” front wall; Rear L 24” from side wall, 144” front wall; Rear R: 21” to side wall, 144” to front wall. (I deliberately kept L slightly further away from its side wall which has windows and sheer curtains.)

The MC60 is a wide-dispersion design with a flare-out horn or wave guide around the mid/woofer, making the 6.5" driver look like an 8”. Driver and wave guide are slightly tilted at a 5° angle or so. This is further complemented by an aimable silk dome tweeter whose angle can be adjusted perhaps ±10°. The installation guide suggests two alternatives. Aim the tweeter toward the listening position for improved imaging and detail; or toward the nearest reflecting surface (adjacent wall) for a more diffuse sound field. I opted for imaging and detail. To aim the tweeter one must carefully support the boomerang bridge and gently swivel the tweeter. I find it easier to do that with both index fingers supporting the bridge whilst pressing down one side of the tweeter close to the inside arch of the bridge with both thumbs.

The amp I had in mind for this was the Dared DV-6C. Rated at 65/35wpc (4/8ohm), the 5.1-channel hybrid tube preamp/class D power amp should have more than enough juice for the 91dB Polks. I put in a piano solo CD to test the waters. The Polks were just out of the boxes. The speaker cables were pathetically thin electric wires but the sound was down to earth. Literally. The piano sound appeared to come down from behind the fireplace mantle, not ceiling. And I was not standing up but sitting down in my usual  spot 12 or 13 feet away. The musical presentation was unpretentious yet sensitive. In my audio psychology, the senses are not always aligned with the mind. Reality sometimes blurs with illusion. My mind was well aware that those were ceiling speakers which undoubtedly directed the sound waves downward. But my senses gladly embraced the illusion that the sound was traveling along a horizontal plane projecting a deep and wide soundstage like floorstanding speakers do.