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Neptune Audio NeptuneEQ Print E-mail
Monday, 01 September 2008
Article Index
Neptune Audio NeptuneEQ
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Music and Movies
A room correction EQ system, be it automatic or manual, should have no sound of its own; it should simply enhance your system’s sound by essentially removing your room’s sonic anomalies from the equation. This said, the Neptune EQ is by far the most musical-sounding EQ I’ve encountered by a wide margin, as I was never really aware of any digital trickery being done. Some EQs – okay, most – showcase their “look at me” room correction by having what can only be described as a chokehold over the music and/or movie, making for an often unnatural or anemic presentation. Sure, the inner detail and clarity aurally seems more apparent, but it often comes at the expense of the sonic “oneness” that should be more the norm. For example, when listening to “Uninvited” from Alanis Unplugged (Mavrick), the Neptune EQ unlocked the air and seemingly the entire venue from the disc. Morissette’s presence wasn’t so much enhanced as it was grounded within a well-defined space, with its own energy and dimensions, which were clearly larger than my average-sized listening room. Her voice was weightier and more full-range then ever before, with clear separation between lyrical passages. Hell, each breath could be felt, as opposed to simply heard. From the highest frequencies all the way on down, the entire sonic landscape seemed more composed, seamless and natural than ever before, provided I changed one simple setting on the Neptune EQ. The Neptune EQ defaults to a “Flat” frequency curve right out of the gate, which is about as musically involving as karaoke night at the local pub. Switch the frequency curve to “Movie,” or better yet “Music,” and wonderful things begin to happen. After speaking with Neptune EQ about this phenomenon, they informed me that I was not alone in my findings and that all future Neptune EQs will ship with the default setting being “Music.”

Moving on, I went for something a bit more aggressive, opting for the DVD presentation of Godsmack’s tour Changes (Zoe Video). Skipping ahead to my personal favorite chapter, “Batalla de los Tambores,” the Neptune EQ’s bass performance was cemented in my mind’s eye. The raging dueling drums section was raucous, barely contained and just good fun. The Neptune EQ allowed my sub to plunge the depths of its capabilities with reckless abandon, all the while remaining supremely composed. With my sub’s internal crossover out of the equation, my reference Meridian in-walls seemed more like huge full-range speakers than a satellite sub combo. The presentation was borderline seamless, with only a hint of separation between the large in-walls and the sub. For this, I fault the sub’s lack of lightning speed (it only has a 350-watt amp, after all), not the Neptune EQ’s capabilities. More impressive still were the cymbal crashes that rained down upon me each time lead singer Sully slammed his sticks into the ridges of his Zildjian cymbals. Every strike seemed to hold in space for that second longer and reverberate more naturally throughout the room. The Meridian in-walls have what I consider to be one of the best tweeters on the market today and, with the Neptune EQ in tow, were able to do sonic feats I had not yet heard in my system since installing them over two years ago. The midrange was fuller and more analog-sounding through the Neptune EQ than through my old reference Audyssey EQ, and the presentation between all five speakers in my system was more robust and coherent as well. The added air, decay and texture only aided in creating a larger, more defined and cleaner soundstage than before, which wasn’t so much the result of the Neptune EQ adding anything to the music per se so much as it was removing things from the sound’s path, allowing everything to reach my ears in truer form than before.

I ended my evaluation with the action staple Speed on Blu-ray disc (Twentieth Century Fox). Again, the presentation was hands, arms and feet above all others. Dialogue was more intelligible and natural and carried with it more weight, which made the actors feel more or less life-sized. Dynamically, the Neptune unlocked a bit of explosiveness I hadn’t realized I had been missing until now. When the bus exploded outside the coffee shop in Santa Monica, the effect was so jarring and visceral, it was pants-wetting. Each shard of singed metal and broken glass fell so distinctly that the aftermath lasted much longer than I had previously heard. It’s always a surreal experience when your system, or a system better than yours, gives you something you never heard before. This became the case each time I sat down to a movie or CD with the Neptune EQ in my system. While I experimented with the Neptune EQ’s “Movie” setting, I felt that its “Music” setting was more well-rounded for a wider variety of source material than all of the others, so I left well enough alone and kept the “Music” setting engaged for the duration of my listening tests. With the “Movie” setting engaged, the dialogue was more pronounced and the film’s grander moments were all the more epic. However, the subtler cues were less apparent and at times seemingly missing from the guest list, so you’ll have to let your ears be the judge of what works best for you and your room. Just know that, regardless of what setting you choose, provided it isn’t flat, you’re going to have a good time with the Neptune EQ.


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