DeCorp FlatWire Ready Speaker Wirebr/

DeCorp's FlatWire Ready loudspeaker wire and interconnection products are somewhat of an oddity given the historical view of wire. But in these times of "looking outside the box," DeCorp certainly has, although a bit flattened. It seems DeCorp has created a niche product aimed, I believe, at the residential A/V market, but crosses over with some very useful applications in the contracting market as well.
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DeCorp's FlatWire Ready loudspeaker wire and interconnection products are somewhat of an oddity given the historical view of wire. But in these times of "looking outside the box," DeCorp certainly has, although a bit flattened. It seems DeCorp has created a niche product aimed, I believe, at the residential A/V market, but crosses over with some very useful applications in the contracting market as well.
Product PointsApplications: Contracting, installation

Key Features: Easily concealed by paint or wallpaper; gauges from 12 to 18AWG; various connectivity options available

Price: FLT series averages $1-2/foot. DePWR series averages $4-5/foot

Contact: DeCorp 866-412-9901, Web Site.

Plus

+ Can easily be concealed by paint or wallpaper

+ Various connectivity options available

+ Quality construction

+ Good fidelity

Minus

- Limited applications

- Increased cost over conventional methods

- Requires some general construction skill to install

The Score: DeCorp FlatWire Ready speaker wire is a great way to get speaker lines installed where construction does not permit the use of conventional methods, without sacrificing audio quality.
Features

Available in gauges from 18AWG up to 12AWG and thickness from.004 to .012 of an inch, the product is offered in two series, the Flat Link Technology Series (FLT) and the Precision Wave Response Series (DePWR). DeCorp's literature contends that the FLT series performs comparable to other high-end conventional loudspeaker wire on the market. The DePWR series is less than 10 mils thin (10 thousandths of an inch), less than the thickness of a typical business card and again DeCorp contends that its construction and conductor configuration eliminates mid-frequency and high frequency attenuation inherent in other speaker wires.

Both series can be surface, wall or ceiling-mounted and can be painted or papered over. The intention of the design is to allow professional installers or do-it-yourself consumers the ability to install sound system wiring without an intrusion into a wall or ceiling and without unsightly wires exposed.

FlatWire Ready speaker wire is a copper co-planar conductor configuration bound in a flat exoskeleton of clear plastic. DeCorp offers a variety of termination connectors. The wire I tested was the "e16" wire (16AWG) with a width of 1 7/8 inches. The clear jacket offers excellent visual inspection of the wire and a variety of installation options are available including custom adhesive and concealing compound.

The wire can be applied and hidden in just about any room, matching the architectural aesthetics and providing a pleasing end result. I could have used this product a few years ago when retrofitting some speakers in a 170-year old church without any ceiling access at all, and of course they didn't want to see any wires! In the coming months, DeCorp will bring to market other products that address connectivity for voice-data wire, AC electrical and video wire.

In Use

DeCorp's literature offers a helpful list of products required for installation; concealing compound tub, five-inch taping knife, 10-inch or 12-inch taping knife, 80-100 grit sandpaper or sanding screen, scissors, straight edge or level, tape measure, dust mask, safety glasses, cloth or rag (clean & lint free), pencil, chalk line (optional). The installation guide is informative and has detailed reference pictures.

As a self-professed techno-geek (decorators are afraid to let me hold a spackling knife) I set out to connect the flat wire, to a pair of monitor speakers and playback system in my studio to see if I could hear the difference between my Mogami 18-gauge speaker wire and the FlatWire. The wire has a positive polarity indicator on the outside conductor. It is fairly flexible and can be maneuvered into place. Again, DeCorp offers special application hardware depending on the surface you are attaching it too. I attached it to my wall, and it seemed to lay fine.

I then connected the banana plug connectors to the ends. This is a relatively easy operation. You peel back the rear plastic coating, insert the wire into a slot in the connector, and turn the connector shell until the conductor is wrapped inside of the connector and pressing up against the sealed portion of the wire. Clean and simple. I played a few selections listening critically to the monitors while I A/Bed them. I did not hear any dramatic change between the conventional and flat wire. No artifacts or heat build up. The audio was consistent.

Summary

DeCorp FlatWire Ready speaker wire is certainly a different approach to installing wire. My feeling is that this product is somewhat limited in the commercial applications and geared more toward the residential market. Especially for the retrofit or renovation applications where construction prohibits the installation of conventional wire.

I do have some reservation with the idea of putting the FlatWire under wallpaper in the event of a severe overload. I did not see any information on UL listing or any safety listing of any type, so be sure to consult your local building codes.

(Manufacturer responds: DeCorp has been assured by UL that audio flat wire is user safe and requires no agency certification from them. Speaker wire mounted on the outside of a wall is a low-voltage application. UL finds that in the most powerful stereo systems, the voltage seldom reaches 50 volts. DeCorp uses materials that melt during a fire and do not contribute to the combustion process. An independent laboratory study found that when conventional round 14AWG wire is overloaded with 20 Amps of current, the temperature of the wire rises approximately 20-30 degrees Celsius. Unlike conventional wire, when the DeCorp FlatWire was overloaded with 20 amps through a 14 gauge FlatWire, the temperature rose 8 degrees Celsius. The FlatWire shape acts as an excellent heat sink.)

Review Setup

Marantz CDR6000 CD player; Yamaha 03D console; Crown power amp; Fostex RM768 monitor speakers.