Center Channel Speakers
- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 03 March 2008
Albert Von Schweikert is a legend in the speaker design and manufacturing arena.
His products have never received a bad review as far as I know, and this one will not start a new precedent.
Until now, his product line consisted only of tower speakers. So, if you used them in a surround sound setup, you would have a tall speaker sitting in the center.
The VisiUN is a speaker designed specifically for the center channel.
- Design: Three-way; Ported
- Drivers: One 1.5" Dome Tweeter, One 7" Midrange, Two 7" Woofers
- MFR: 50 Hz - 20 kHz ± 3 dB
- Sensitivity: 91 dB/W/M
- Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohms
- Power Handling: 100 Watts RMS, 300 Watts Peak
- Dimensions: 15" H x 28" W x 14" D
- Weight: 54 Pounds
- MSRP: $5,500 USA
- Von Schweikert
This is a big speaker, and now that most consumers are migrating to flat panel HDTV displays, there is no longer that large flat space on top of the rear projection TV to put center channel speakers. So, you will have to put it on a stand in front of the TV, or on a shelf underneath it.
The VisiUN is a three-way design, with tweeter, mid, and woofers. It weighs in at 54 pounds, as much as some of the compact 5.1 modular speakers, including the subwoofer, weigh all together.
Many home theater buffs don't realize how important the center channel is. That is where most of the action occurs, including all the voices and many of the special effects. So, if any speaker should be big, it's the center channel speaker.
The surface of the VisiUN is painted with the same finish as on the Stealth bomber. The reason for this is that the paint reflects just about no light at all, and assuming you place the VisiUN under your display, the light that hits the speaker will not bounce forward to your eyes. Albert had to apply for special permission to use the paint. So, no glossy rosewood here. It will disappear when the lights go out and the movie starts.
The rear panel has two dials near the speaker binding posts, one to give a boost or attenuation for high frequencies, and one to do the same for the bass. If the speaker were close to a wall, you might want to turn the bass dial down, and if you wanted a laid back sound overall, you might want to turn the high frequency dial down. The dials were set to 0 (no boost or attenuation) for all the tests in our lab.
I listened to the VisiUN using various movie players (HD DVD, Blu-ray, SD DVD), Lexicon MC12B SSP, Classé CA-5200 power amplifier, and Final Sound ESL speakers. Cables were Legenburg and Nordost.
The first thing I noticed about the VisiUN is its incredible power. I like to watch action movies such as American Gangster with the volume at an appropriate level for the action, and the VisiUN didn't disappoint me. Gunshots and explosions (isn't it great to be male?) were projected across the room in a way that made me duck for cover. Keep in mind that any speaker can sound good at really low volume, say 0.25 watt, but what separates the good from the bad and the ugly is how it performs when the sound is cranked up. The VisiUN is built like a tank, and voices were always clear in spite of what was happening in the background. No excessive sibilance either. And no boominess. This power capability gives the VisiUN a huge dynamic range, so that if you are listening at moderate levels, and along comes a short, intense sound, the speaker can deliver the additional volume, whereas other, less powerful speakers would "compress", that is, not deliver the full intensity of the transient.
Here's another, let's say, not exactly a PG-13 rated movie. 12 gauge shotguns - double 0 buck no less - are not known for their low level demands on speakers trying to reproduce the sound of their discharge.
Again, the VisiUN did exactly what I wanted it to, and expected it to, do.