|Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Micro 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Tim Hart|
|Friday, 01 July 2005|
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The Multimedia Sound
Just for fun, I hooked the Nucleus Micro system up to my gaming computer, using the aforementioned Creative Labs SoundBlaster Audigy2 sound card. Set-up included setting the speakers in a more or less circular pattern around the chair and putting the TR-1 sub under the desk. It was a snap to dial in the basic parameters for levels and so on with The Audigy2. Once that was accomplished, I logged into my favorite game to date, the first-person shooter called Unreal Tournament 2004. Online gaming, or any gaming for that matter, takes on a whole new level with surround sound if the software will support it. Creative also has a multi-channel emulator for games that don’t support 5.1. While bobbing and weaving from the enemy, the Nucleus Micro system gave me a better opportunity to audibly tell where the threats were. The spatial cues in the game are done quite well and with the Micros controlled the sound very well. I felt this gave me an even better edge on the competition. I’m not sure what the games sound sampling rates were, but the SoundBlaster card is capable of 96 kHz/24-bit on 5.1 material and the Nucleus Micro System sounded detailed, authoritative and precise. There is much more detail in the sound effects of UT2004 than I had realized and the Nucleus Micros did an outstanding job of sorting out the nuances and provided a quite intricate soundscape. Although a bit extravagant for a computer application, this package is ideal for 5.1 AV systems that run games.
Staring off with Audioslave and their latest project Out Of Exile (Interscope Records), I was prepared to squeeze any possible shortcomings out of the Gallo Nucleus Micro system with an all out-assault using the Sunfire, Aragon and Toshiba gear. “Yesterday To Tomorrow” has a scorching solo by Tom Morello, who was the front axe man for Rage Against The Machine. This is a good test of a speaker’s ability to sustain the upper frequencies at high volumes. The Nucleus Micros did a nice job of sorting out the guitar and keeping other aspects of the playing intact, such as cymbals and the snap of the stick hitting the head of the snare drum. I turned the volume up until I noticed some congestion and a bit of distortion, then backed it down a bit to eliminate these anomalies, and I was surprised at how loud these speakers could play. AVR publisher Jerry Del Colliano has previously noted the congested sound on Audioslave’s self-titled recording, even on DualDisc, so I am not going to fault the Micros too much – you can hear similar compression on Wilson WATT Puppies and big Krell amps. What I concluded was these little speakers have a lot of heart. They are certainly loud enough to inspire a visit from your landlord or wife (in my case, the latter). I tried the same tune on my reference gear (Revel, Levinson, Linn and Sunfire gear) and the Nucleus Micros were better in some ways. For example, they could create a little better layering and a more resolute and focused soundstage probably because of their size and shape. Vocals were more present, with more air around them, on my reference speakers, but these cost 14 times more money than the Micros, so you’d hope they’d be somewhat better. Make no mistake, the fact that I even got the urge to do an A-B test with big Revels against four-inch Gallo Acoustics speaks volumes as to just how good these affordable small speakers really are.
Porcupine Tree’s DVD-Audio of their recent effort, Deadwing, was up next. I used my reference system exclusively on this disc, the centerpiece of which is “Arriving Somewhere but Not Here.” This song borders on pop with a sprinkle of neo-progressive grooves and crunchy, Metallica-like riffs. This DTS-mixed track envelops the listener with a detailed multi-channel soundscape. The Nucleus Micros captured most of the delicate reverb from Steve Wilson’s guitar and the more subtle vocal textures. The vocal harmonies and their associated midrange remained intact, coming across with a slightly leaner presentation. At louder volumes, this tended to be more pronounced in my system. Nevertheless, I was duly impressed with the clarity and agility of the Nucleus Micros for their size and price. The harmonics were memorable and the balance of the system never faltered.
“Elektra” (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) seemed like a good first outing for the Nucleus Micro System to strut its stuff in the movie setting. I played through the first chapter, not really having anything specific to listen for while Elektra (Jennifer Garner) was infiltrating the compound of her first victim, but there were certain aspects that immediately jumped out with full-bodied spectrum, belying the size of the speakers. The presence they established as she traveled past the camera in one scene utilized the TR-1 and the Micro’s ability, and the rendition was substantial.
In Chapter 17, the character Tattoo conjures up a wolf to track Elektra and her companions through the forest. The sound the magical creature makes as it travels through the forest was very detailed, traveling from channel to channel quite seamlessly. The Nucleus Micros did an extremely good job at keeping the information undiminished.