Pure Acoustics QX900 5.1 Speaker System - March, 2005 -Yongki Go
Many readers are probably not familiar with the Pure Acoustics speaker brand. I
admit that I not heard about them until I saw and visited their booth
at CES 2004. I learned later on that Pure Acoustics products had not
been widely distributed, hence the unfamiliarity with the name. Currently,
the company is actively expanding its dealerships, so youíll probably
encounter their products more and more in the future.
If you visit Pure Acoustics' website and browse its product lines, I bet that youíll overestimate the price of the products. That is because most of their products carry very inexpensive price tags.
Low price is one thing, and quality is another. Consumers who have been in the audio hobby for some time and who have been accustomed to being exposed by the high prices of many audio products out there might wonder if Pure Acoustics can deliver high quality with the low prices. This review hopefully can shed some light on this very issue.
The speaker system reviewed here is from the middle of the line of Pure Acoustics products, called the QX900 series. It consists of two QX900F front floor-standing speakers ($348/pair), one QX900C center channel ($78 each), and two QX900S surround speakers ($96/pair).
The review samples came in a glossy black finish, but these speakers are also offered in other finishes: Silver, Cherry, Beech, Maple, and Mahogany. For this review, Pure Acoustics also shipped a powered subwoofer together with the QX900 system, which is the SL12 ($435 each) from its Sub SL series. This subwoofer has a Bordeaux finish, which looks distinctive. Other finishes available are Black, Silver, and Gold.
As you can obviously tell, this system is very inexpensive.
You get everything for less than $1000.
The QX900F floor-standing speakers are a three-way bass-reflex design with
silk dome tweeter, one 6.5" midrange driver, and two 6.5" woofers. The
midrange driver and woofer cones are made from paper based material. The port of the
speaker is located in the rear at about half the speaker height. Slightly above
the port, there are two pairs of five-way binding posts that are connected
with a pair of metal jumpers. The placement of these posts is rather unusual
for a floor-stander. Usually, the floor-standerís posts are located near the
floor, and this would be my preference. Running speaker wire to a higher
position is less desirable and if you use thick speaker wire, it could
partially block the air flow of the port. On the bottom of the speaker,
there are four small fixed feet. No threads for use with spikes or other
types of support are provided.
The QX900C center channel uses the same 1" silk dome tweeter and a pair of 5.25" midrange drivers. It also utilizes a bass-reflex design with a pair of rear ports. The speaker posts are of the spring-clip variety.
The two-way bass-reflex surround speaker, the QX900S, incorporates a tweeter and a midrange driver similar to the other speakers, and has a port on the rear, with spring-clip binding posts. A hole is provided on the back of the speaker for easy hanging on the wall.
As can be seen from the pictures, these speakers look attractive, and - except for the spring-clip posts - would likely be thought more expensive than they are.
They do have some resonance when the rapping test is
used, indicating a lack of internal bracing. Also, they are very light
weight, suggesting that the enclosure material is not very thick or dense,
and that the driver magnets are not very heavy. These are the factors that
have to be compromised when you are talking about a 5.1 system that is so
On the other hand, the SL12 subwoofer is a different beast in terms of build and finish quality. The metallic burgundy (called Bordeaux) finish of the review sample looks unique, and the paint job seems to be excellent.
The SL12 is slightly larger than a 15" cube. It utilizes a 12" driver with a large rubber surround that is so popular in subwoofers these days, powered by a 175 watt internal amplifier, and employs a bass-reflex design with twin rear ports. The driver is front-firing, and the amplifier is on the rear.
This subwoofer has the usual controls (volume
level, crossover frequency, and phase switch), plus a set of low and high
level inputs and outputs. The power cable of this subwoofer is not detachable.
The SL12 subwoofer does not come with a grille, which is rather unusual. The
sans-grille look is attractive, but if you have small children, you would
want to have one to protect the cone.
For home theater, the performance of the QX900 system was more than I expected for the price. The system could fill the room with sound and had no problem in engaging me with what was happening on the screen.
The $78 center channel delivered relatively good intelligibility on dialogue and definitely could compete with several more expensive center channels.
watched movies, ranging from
drama such as Raising Helen to action such as Spider-Man 2, my skepticism of
the system was somewhat erased. Sure, the QX900 system didnít give me as much
detail in sound or smoothness as some of the systems that Iíve experienced,
but those systems usually cost much, much more than the QX900. For home-theater
application, the QX900 system delivered performance that belied its price. I
mean, just look at the floor-standers. Can you believe they are $175
each?!!! And, what about those surround speakers. Do they look like
$96/pair?!!! Like many products these days, they are outsourced to China,
and those guys know how to make a beautiful finish on a speaker enclosure.
For music, the QX900 system delivered a more than acceptable performance. Overall, the system was very listenable, although I got the impression of a rather flat presentation and slight lack of upper midrange and treble details during my evaluation, which was especially noticeable in stereo mode using only the QX900F floor-standing speakers.
There was a slight sound coloration that was noticeable on some acoustical
instrument recordings. The presentation of the QX900F was slightly forward,
with a soundstage that had good width but rather lack of depth. The QX900F
delivered a good amount of bass, but its upper bass was a little sloppy, which
reduced bass articulation. Cabinet resonances might contribute to this last
observation, as this bass issue could not be eliminated completely by
placement in the room.
The SL12 subwoofer was capable of moving a lot of air and providing good impact when called for during action movies. It seemed to do OK down to about 30 Hz, which is not bad for a sub that comes in at less than $450.
The subwoofer was more at home with movie
soundtracks than with music playback. Although the bass it produced was
good enough for rock and pop music, it didnít have the tightness
and quickness necessary to keep up comfortably with music that required
finesse to sound natural. This is not a big limitation, however, because in all
fairness, an accurate subwoofer is hard to come by at the SL12 price point.
The QX900 speaker system with the SL12 subwoofer from Pure Acoustics offers good looks and
reasonably good sound on the cheap. The price of the QX900
system is especially mind boggling. For less than $1,000, you get a
5.1 speaker system consisting of a pair of mid-sized floor-standers, a nice center channel, a pair of bookshelf surround speakers,
and a powered subwoofer that should
satisfy entry-level home theater needs. Despite a few compromises, Pure Acoustics
manages to pull off performance from a system that would seem to be a lot
more expensive. For someone building a budget system, this system is
definitely worth a look.
- Yongki Go -
Associated Equipment for Review:
CD playback: Shanling CD-S100
DVD playback: Toshiba SD-4700
Preamplifier: Adcom GFP-750, Meridian 565
Amplifier: Parasound HCA-855A
Speakers: NHT Evolution T6, Onix Rocket ELT home theater system
Cables: MIT Terminator 4 interconnects, MIT Terminator 2 speaker cables, Cardas Crosslink and Ultralink speaker cables.