Setting up a Home Theater Speaker System that doesn’t Dominate the Room Decor – An Experiment with Axiom Audio Speakers
Over the past decade, we have seen the number of speakers in a home theater system go from 5.1, to 7.1 and beyond. This presents a problem in having the space to put all these speakers. Although it is nice to have large speakers that will play loud for the current deluge of high impact movies full of mechanical monstors and massive guns, putting nine or more speakers in the den where your home theater is, will certainly set off an argument with your significant other, even if the speakers are beautiful. So, I decided to put together a 5.1 system of small, but high quality, bookshelf speakers and a good subwoofer. You will be shocked at the visual change this produces, and yet, this system still has good surround sound (just not quite as loud), and it looks attractive in the room without seeming like it is the centerpiece of the den.
The Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers are small-footprint monitors, designed for small rooms or desktops where only a reference-caliber loudspeaker will do.
Bowers and Wilkin's (B&W) is a name that anyone even casually interested in audio and speaker manufacturers will undoubtedly know. With their distinctive look and stellar reputation, B&W speakers have found their way not just into many home audio set-ups, but also of the world's most iconic professional recording studios (raise your hand if you've seen the picture of an array of B&W speakers and Classé electronics at Abbey Road studios). Despite having known of B&W for as long as I've been involved in this field, I have personally had little experience with the speakers directly. I was therefore excited to have the opportunity to evaluate the B&W's 805 Diamond bookshelf and HTM4 center channel speaker and I am eager to pass along my thoughts.
The Alpha PS1s are PSB's first powered speakers, and are bookshelf in size. Driven by built-in Class D amplifiers, they feature 3.5" metalized polypropylene main drivers and 0.75" aluminum dome tweeters in elegant ported enclosures. These speakers are the latest member of PSB's Alpha line which has been very popular and well received by the audio press and consumers alike. Late last year, PSB announced they would be releasing a super compact powered subwoofer. This new sub was designed to go along with PSB's incredible little PSB Alpha PS1 ($299) desktop speakers that I reviewed in July 2013. So I promptly requested a review sample as I wanted to write this quick follow-up to my earlier review.
Revel has just released the third generation of their Performa speaker line. Dubbed the Performa3's, the new lineup offers nine models – two tower speakers, two bookshelf speakers, two center speakers, two subs and one surround. Revel touts the Performa3's as having an "Ultima2 Heritage at attainable prices". The Performa3's are all-new designs with all-new drivers. The M105's reviewed here are the smaller of the two bookshelf speaker models. They have a 5-1/4" ribbed aluminum mid/woofer and a 1" aluminum dome tweeter that was designed by the Untima2 team. These tweeters are mounted in a new waveguide that lends the speakers a sexy silhouette and a very smooth in-room response. Who could argue with that? As if this weren't enough, Revel decided to price the Performa3's on a very competitive level which makes these speakers a major value-for-money opportunity.
Bryston has a long history of manufacturing high quality amplifiers and digital components. Their products come with an industry leading warranty, reference-level sound quality, and above average build quality. For years their electronics have been paired with high end speakers at various shows, Thiel, Magnepan, PMC and other serious loudspeaker manufactures have chosen Bryston electronics to showcase their sound so I was very interested to hear that they were producing their own speakers.
Most of us here at Secrets have been Home Theater enthusiasts for a very long time, reaching back to the early days of Laserdiscs and Dolby ProLogic. Then the big screen TV market exploded, surround sound became accessible to the mainstream, and now everyone is into home theater….or are they?
As GoldenEar president Sandy Gross says, his desire is to take the sound he manages to get from far more expensive speakers, and engineer that into his own products at a much lower price. With his Triton line of towers he has certainly succeeded, but how good could he really make a $400 bookshelf speaker? They sure sounded good when I heard them at the CEDIA Expo, but those shows are never an environment in which to make any final declarations. With a pair in hand, I was ready to find out.