|Definitive Technology 7002 Bipolar Super Towers Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Thursday, 01 July 2004|
Page 1 of 2
As much as you love speakers and all the lust-worthy toys that go along with them, one thing you are glad you don’t do for a living is running a start-up speaker company. With names like Infinity, Bose and Boston Acoustics gracing the interiors of some of the finer automobiles and taking out many big-dollar ads in magazines and newspapers, the task of competing in the loudspeaker market has become nearly impossible – actually, it has been that way for more than 20 years. I say “nearly” impossible because one man, Sandy Gross, has been at the head of launching two speaker companies – Polk and Definitive Technology – that have not only made it but prospered. Definitive Technology, Gross’ current company makes some of the sleekest, most powerful speakers designed for home theater systems. Have they sold their souls to the Devil to be able to rock Axis’ Bold as Love in your living room in ways that make you think that you are sitting in Electric Ladyland Studio listening to archived master tape?
The speakers that I have been going gaga to review are the Definitive Technology 7002 Bipolar Super Towers, which are floor-standing speakers that employ Definitive’s world-class SuperCube subwoofer technology, retail for $2,200 per pair and are available with black cloth finish and your choice of either piano black or golden cherry end-caps. The 7002s measure seven-and-one-quarter inches wide, 16 inches deep, 46-and-one-quarter inches in height, with a stated frequency response of a remarkably low 15Hz to 30kHz.
At the heart of this floorstanding loudspeaker is Definitive’s 12-inch SuperCube subwoofer technology, along with their internal 300-watt digital amplifier. This allows the 7002 to dive down to an earth-rumbling 15Hz. The 7002s have a bipolar design with matching dual five-and-one-quarter inch cast basket mid-bass drivers on the upper front and rear of the speaker, along with an aluminum dome tweeter on both sides of the speaker. The bipolar design emits information that is in phase from both the front and rear. This allows for a much more airy and open sound when implemented correctly. Keep in mind that any bipolar design means that careful placement is necessary to assure best performance. Along with a brand new crossover network designed to seamlessly blend the extreme low frequency with the upper range drivers, this speaker is positioned in Definitive’s line to take advantage of much the trickle-down technology they have previously developed.
I positioned the 7002’s in the same location where my Revel Salons normally reside, a position that has been deemed by audio professional Bob Hodas as the best location in my room. I found a positional preference with the 7002s towed considerably towards my listening position. I played with having the speakers positioned with the sub drivers facing both in at each other and toward the outer walls; I achieved a more balanced response with them facing in. I set the volume of the 7002 subs at approximately 5 dB above the volume of the speakers and turned off the Linn Sysmik subwoofer that I have been using to compliment my reference Revel loudspeakers. This volume setting was approximately in the 1:00 o’clock position on the dial at the rear of the 7002s. I then placed the spikes and began evaluation.
Movies and Music
I started my critical listening with some Johnny Lang from his 1997 release Lie to Me (A&M Records). In the title track, the 7002s quickly established themselves as speakers that could reproduce the impact of live rock. The bass and snare drums had solid impact and the necessary energy to sound live. Initially, I was concerned about this speaker’s ability to provide tight bass with its powered on-board subs. Although I had reviewed the impressive Definitive Technology BP3000s a couple years back and was able to blend their bass very well, I am now in a smaller room, one known for easily overloading if the subs are not positioned precisely and at the proper level. Surprisingly, it took little set-up and the bass sounded remarkably well blended and tight damn near right out of the box.
Lang’s voice was also displayed very well and the 7002s captured the soul and presence of his performance. In Track Two, “Darker Side,” the distant piano had the necessary information to position it nicely in the stage, and also made the piano strikes sound both immediate and real. As the hammer strikes the strings, the sound can either be dull and sluggish or almost startling upon impact. The 7002s provided the latter and had the energy and quickness to make this piano sound realistic and exciting. Another indication of their top end quality, the cymbals in this song had a harmonic ring and subsequent decay that were both liquid and very detailed.
Something that quickly caught my attention, like many speakers that I review in this price range and above, this has great bass, and a very detailed upper spectrum – great individual attributes. However, a speaker should be judged not by its individual characteristics but rather by how it emotionally captures your feelings. The Definitive Technology 7002s captured something that few achieve in any price class, an emotional connection. I personally know of speakers that cost upward of $10,000 and beyond that sound fantastic yet have failed to make me excited about my music. Probably the best compliment that I can bestow upon the 7002s was that throughout the duration of my audition, I always looked forward to hearing them.
Next I used one of my favorite musicians, Doug MacLeod, and his Come to Find release (AudioQuest). In the opening cut, “Bring It on Home,” the acoustic bass was portrayed very well. It was deep in the stage and had great acoustical textures. It struck me that the 7002s had a similar midrange sound to that of the Revel F30s, a speaker that retails for nearly twice the price. MacLeod’s acoustic guitar solo had the aggressiveness of a live acoustic instrument, with the necessary dynamic range to make it sound as if I was in the first few rows of an intimate outdoor amphitheater. This recording is simply awesome and the 7002s complemented it. In the song “Master Plan,” MacLeod’s voice had the quickness and liquidity necessary to make reproduced music sound live. Unique to this speaker, the mids and highs were so airy on live acoustical music that it almost sounded like a planer speaker such as an electrostatic in its ability to convey not only the music but also the air that surrounds the instruments, making live acoustic music all the more engaging.
What speaker evaluation would be complete without some car chases and explosions? I loaded up a new copy of the classic “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (Artisan). This flick is chock-full of challenges for any speaker. In the fight that ensues following the scene where a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger walks into the bar looking for some clothes, the sounds of cracking wood and shotgun blasts were both dynamic and detailed. I am no stranger to big sound with my Revel Salons and professionally tuned sub, yet the 7002s did a remarkable job of making this exciting, with abundant bass. It takes something unique to truly excite me and the fact that a $2,000 speaker pair was providing powerful sub performance and detailed dialogue at the same time was eyebrow-raising. In this price class there are speakers that do low bass, but typically the bass is slow and struggles to keep pace. Definitive has hit the nail on the head with built-in, high-quality powered subs. This is ideal for the minimalist set-up and a perfect chance to get well-integrated low bass in your AV system. In the chase that follows where the liquid metal dude chases a young John Connor (Edward Furlong) through the storm runoff canal, the rumbles from the Harley Davidson motor were fantastically real-sounding and impactful, as well as the shearing metal sounds from the truck scraping the cement embankments. When mixed with the sounds from Connor’s two-stroke motorcycle, the high-frequency detail and low-frequency rumble never got confused or congested in any way - a very solid demonstration for the Definitive 7002s.
In Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Volume One” (Miramax), a movie full of musical influence, the 7002s again performed well. I paused at the intro menu for five minutes and listened to the musical sounds in interest. The 7002s actually blended pretty well with my Revel Voice and S30 surrounds. This is quite a compliment, as I think the sound of Revels is amongst the very best our industry has to offer. They portrayed the fight scenes with great ease.
It is worth noting that the 7002s were exceptionally easy to drive. I found them hitting the highest volumes with relative ease. In fact, they were easier to drive than any speaker I have reviewed in a long time. This means that you can simply drive them with higher watt receivers and any lower-watt separate amplifiers.