Next Level Acoustics Enters Market to Take on the Establishment – CEPro


The loudspeaker market is one of the most competitive categories in consumer electronics and it’s always a challenge for new manufacturers to compete.

Accepting the challenge of building a brand in this competitive environment is the new Massachusetts audio company Next Level Acoustics.

Next Level launched its first products with the introduction of its Elite Series enclosures, and Fusion Series soundbar and subwoofer combination. By the summer of 2016 the company followed up with its newest products, the newly announced Custom Installer (CI) series of architectural loudspeakers.

Next Level Engineered the speakers to deliver the sound quality of established custom installation brands, and it says the products feature acoustic back boxes, binding posts, dog-ear/rail mounting systems and proprietary sound deadening acoustic materials.

Debuting the line for CE Pro, the Massachusetts audio company setup and conducted an exclusive presentation for the editorial staff.

Using a Sony VPL-VW665 4K projector, a Falcon Screens Horizon 2.35:1 acoustically transparent screen, a Da-Lite Imager Projector Screen Masking System, an Anthem AVM 60 Atmos A/V Processor, ATI AT4000 Signature Series amplifiers, a Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray disc player, a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD disc player, AudioQuest cables, the new speaker manufacturer played its new CI-IWHDMON in the left, center right speaker positions, as well as four of its CI-IW55 speakers in the rear and surround positions, and it employed a single CI-HV10 High-Velocity Subwoofer to round out the system.

The CI-IWHDMON is a two-way design that features a pair of 7-inch reed-cone woofers and a single 1-inch silk-dome tweeter. The, 4-ohm, 89dB efficient speaker provides a frequency response 55Hz to 20kHz.  The CI-IW55 incorporates a 5.5-inch long-throw woofer and a 1-inch Vifa textile-dome tweeter. The 4-ohm, 90dB efficient speaker offers a rated frequency response of 60Hz to 20kHz.

Next Level Acoustics’ High Velocity Subwoofer employs a 10-inch aluminum cone woofer, along with a 500-watt amplifier, and it points out the sub utilizes a vented bandpass design.

Seating CE Pro senior editor Bob Archer in the “money seat” Next Level Acoustics played a variety of demo content that was highlighted by a music video starring Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini, and a battle scene from “Saving Private Ryan.”

Following the demonstration, Archer noted the products were powerful in their ability to deliver an impactful home theater experience.

Slideshow: Next Level Acoustics Launches CI Series Products

“I was very impressed with my first listen of the new Next Level Acoustics line of sealed enclosure architectural loudspeakers. The bass was deep and loud with lots of note definition, and it was well integrated into the rest of the sonic picture. The midrange was also smooth, which was highlighted by the clarity of the dialog it reproduced during several movie clips, and the top end was also extended without being shrill,” stated Archer. “Sitting down and listening to a Next Level system that included CI-IWHDMON in-wall speakers as left, center and right front speakers, as well as the company’s CI-IW55 in-wall speakers as side and surround speakers, and a single Next Level CI-HV10 high-velocity subwoofer, I was completely immersed in the action of movies such as ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ On music I felt the visceral impact of a music video featuring the technique of Dream Theater’s drummer Mike Mangini. It was a very convincing demonstration.”

Now with the products hitting the market Next Level is establishing its distribution network. The company recently appointed Lumescent Systems as its national representative and on a local level it has named Novus Distribution as its New England regional distributor.

Over the next several months in addition to building out its distribution network, Next Level’s Robert Goldman says the company will be expanding its product line. Some of the next-generation Next Level products dealers can expect says Goldman include in-room products such as tower models, as well as its Infinity Grilles trimless architectural models, and its universal soundbar bracket with height, depth and tilt adjustments.

Goldman adds that Next Level is committing to dealer support through initiatives such as custom speaker sizes, paint matching to help the products blend into a variety of home environments, and two-week order fulfillment to ensure integrators stay on time and on budget.

Archer observed that dealers are interested in finding products that offer a value proposition and Next Level fits that type of criteria.

“Looking at the build quality and performance of the products, the Next Level product line should spark interest with dealers,” commented Archer. “Adding in the competitive price points that Next Level is coming to market with, that should be the tipping point that makes Next Level successful in the custom installation industry.”

Next Level Acoustics Develops Sealed Enclosure Architectural Speaker Line – CEPro


To say home theater is popular again would be a massive understatement. New technologies and formats highlighted by Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound format are driving a new era of home theater that provides obvious benefits that even non-audiophiles appreciate.

Entering the architectural speaker category to provide dealers with competitively priced loudspeakers engineered to rival some of the custom installation industry’s top brands is the Mass.-based company Next Level Acoustics.

Expanding from its initial offerings of soundbar-related products, the Bay State manufacturer has introduced a new line of architectural loudspeakers that includes the CI-IC44A in-ceiling loudspeaker. This sealed-enclosure, in-ceiling loudspeaker is designed to deliver “audiophile performance,” and the company says it produces high levels of output with fast transient capabilities and lots of image clarity.

The speaker’s 20-degree downward driver angle enables dealers to utilize the speaker in left, center, right placement configurations, as well as a surround speaker or in Dolby Atmos height speaker locations.

Next Level Acoustics points out the speaker features an MDF enclosure with an aluminum outer frame, along with a “designer cloth” and a “rigid mounting system.” The Commonweath’s latest audio company explains the speaker employs a two-way design with two 4.5-inch long-throw woofers with 1-inch voice coils, and a single Vifa 1-inch textile dome tweeter.

The 4-ohm speaker delivers a frequency response of 65Hz to 18kHz +/-3dB, and its rated sensitivity is 89dB.

Hands On: Startup Next Level Acoustics Bows Sonos Play:Bar Enclosure for Pros – CEPro

With many consumers opting to choose soundbar products, Next Level Acoustics’ Fusion LCR soundbar and SW8P powered subwoofer provide dealers with a customizable solution that fits in with today’s product trends.

By Robert Archer, November 17, 2015 (full article)

The loudspeaker category is without question one of the most competitive markets within the entire realm of consumer electronics. The latest company taking this challenge on is steering clear of the pure retail market and specifically targeting installers is the Needham, Mass.-based manufacturer Next Level Acoustics. Led by owner Robert Goldman, the company is aggressively developing products to meet the needs of installers that offer multichannel home theater solutions through a choice of products that include one-off custom products.Earlier this Fall, Goldman stopped by the CE Pro office to drop off the company’s Elite Series Sonos Play:Bar enclosure, along with its Fusion LCR and Fusion SW8P powered subwoofer, to give us an opportunity to hear these products for ourselves.

Starting with the Play:Bar enclosure, I took this product home and tried it with the Sonos-powered soundbar in my Sonos system. The enclosure is designed to mount quickly with standard mounting hardware that’s available from any home improvement store.

Taking a closer look at the Elite Series, Next Level states the product features “tapered lines to perfectly compliment even the most discerning viewing environments.” Internally, the Elite Series features side reflectors to focus sound towards the seating position while improving intelligibility. Other features include size options and a magnetic mesh-weave grille that allows IR signals to pass.

Dropping the Sonos soundbar into the enclosure, I listened to a variety of content with the Play:Bar at several listening locations. I heard no difference with music or dialog with the soundbar. While I can’t say the acoustical design added focus to dialog, I can say that, more importantly, it did not detract from dialog intelligibility. This I believe may be just as important for consumers that are concerned about the industrial design element of their soundbars and TVs.

Moving on to Next Level’s Fusion LCR, with this product, like the Elite Series enclosure, dealers can order the three-channel soundbar in a choice of sizes ranging from 48 inches to 74 inches. The 90dB-efficient, 4-ohm speaker is capable of producing SPL levels as high as 103dB. It employs a left, center, right driver array of tweeter, woofer, woofer; woofer, tweeter, woofer, and woofer, woofer, tweeter.

Digging deeper, the woofers are 3.3-inch Vifa cast-frame drivers and the tweeters are a Vifa Neodymium silk-dome models. Helping the soundbar to work with just about any type of amplifier is Next Level’s Impedance Optimized Sound Bar (IOSB) technology, said to enable the Fusion LCR to minimize impedance swing variations to enable the product to play loud with minimal amounts of distortion at low power levels.

The final Next Level product I listened to was the Fusion SW8P powered subwoofer. This small footprint sub complements the Fusion LCR to provide mid-bass frequency reinforcement. The sealed-box design incorporates a Peerless SLS 8-inch woofer that is driven by a 300-watt RMS amplifier. Its rear panel controls include an line-in/line-out, speaker-level connections, volume, phase, crossover, and on/off/auto options.

Hooking the soundbar up to an Integra receiver was easy enough. I ran 16/2 Monster speaker cable to each of the soundbars binding posts and an RCA cable from the receiver’s sub out to the subwoofer’s line-in input. After dialing in the volume and phase, and setting the crossover in the receiver’s menu to the standard 80Hz, I was off and running.

Listening to mostly music, but also some video content, I was honestly surprised at some of the sonic attributes of the Fusion LCR and SW8P combination. Listening to music with the soundbar and sub configured via the Integra receiver’s processing in a 2.1 mode, I thought the combination delivered a wide airy soundstage and well-defined image. The Next Level products’ tonal balance with music appeared pretty neutral and I didn’t notice any issues with the receiver driving the speaker.

I didn’t find the integration of the sub and soundbar terribly difficult. It took a few minutes of listening, and ultimately in our CE Pro listening room I found “noon” on the volume knob to provide the best blend of loudness, “tightness” and overall audibility, without overworking the soundbar or subwoofer localization.

Transitioning to surround from stereo I felt the tonal accuracy had shifted slightly to a more pronounced mid-bass emphasis. This emphasis wasn’t chesty or muddy, and it could even be construed as beneficial to dialog, but some of what I was hearing could also be due to my listening environment’s acoustics. Nevertheless, I did find a bit of “forwardness” to the soundbar’s multichannel playback.

Realistically, the sub in our room played down to 63Hz before low frequency roll off affected its output levels. With that said, it did extend down to 40Hz. I had placed the sub towards the center of our rectangular room’s long wall. Corner placement could theoretically add some bottom end extension, but the sub could sacrifice some speed and control in this scenario.

My only apprehension with the system has nothing to do with its performance. From my perspective, the build quality of the products is good, the sound quality is good, there are plenty of dealer support incentives available through the company, but the prices of the sub and enclosure products may run on the high side in my opinion. I think dealers that are skilled at selling audio won’t have a problem with the products … and for that matter, dealers that sell with confidence.

But, there are many dealers that don’t fall into those categories, and these prices could preclude them from being successful with the product line. The speaker market is highly competitive as we’ve already noted, and in a category that got its roots in mass-market commodity stores, those price points may be tough to overcome.

With that said, Goldman and his company are enthusiastic about working with dealers and he says the company has more products on the way. For dealers looking to leverage a product line that caters to today’s era of audio that includes custom sizes, finishes, etc., Next Level Acoustics is worth a look.

CE Pro Verdict:

Pros: Elite enclosure unobtrusive when paired with Sonos Play:Bar. The Fusion LCR and SW8P work well together to throw nice image and wide soundstage.

Cons: I understand the low manufacturing volume and custom aspects associated with Next Level, but I think some consumers may balk at the price points of the Elite Series soundbar enclosure and SW8P subwoofer.

  • Next Level Acoustics Elite Series soundbar enclosure MSRP ranges from $495 to $625
  • Next Level Acoustics Fusion LCR MSRP ranges from $1,195 to $1,395
  • Next Level Fusion SW8P powered subwoofer MSRP is $849

CEDIA 2015 CEPro Article

Next Level Acoustics Elite Series for Playbar

By Julie Jacobson / CE Pro, October 09, 2015 (full article)

Leon isn’t the only game in town when it comes to Playbar accessories. Founded this year, Next Level Acoustics also makes a product that allows the Playbar to attach cleanly to a TV and disappear beneath a magnetic grille.

The Elite Series Sonos Playbar Case comes in various sizes to match different TVs, and it features tapered ends to mimic the side perspective of a display.

Next Level owner Robert Goldman tells CE Pro the the acoustic qualities of the case “enhance the sound of the Playbar itself.”

Interior side reflectors focus sound to the listening areas to improve intelligibility, according to the company, and a rigid cavity increases mid-bass performance. There’s an open top panel with inset grilles to provide the “necessary high-frequency ‘breathing room’” to match the Playbar.

The removable magnetic grille is partially inset for “additional structural integrity,” and the mesh weave on the grille allows for IR pass-through.

Goldman says Next Level is currently developing a bracket back option for the Elite Case that will pair with a depth-adjusting bracket (AEON-90200 by AV-Express) that mounts to the TV. The combo will allow the Playbar case to swivel.

According to Goldman, the bracket back model may be mounted directly above or below the TV while the TV is on its own factory stand, using the mounting holes on the back of the TV.

“The bracket back model allows for 4-inch depth adjustment forwards and backwards,” he says, “to ensure that the case is perfectly flush with either the top or bottom of the TV.”

Next Level also offers snap-on grilles in different sizes to best match the display.