|Aperion Audio Intimus System (522D-LR/522D-C/S10)|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Christopher Zell, Ph.D.|
|Friday, 01 August 2003|
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Home theater is a wonderful experience that has the better part of the civilized world clambering to their local A/V retailers to get outfitted, most with a strict budget in mind. Once we get there, we soon realize that we are now dividing our available funds across five speakers and electronics, as well as a subwoofer. Can something that truly satisfies be found without spending an arm and a leg?
Enter Internet-only manufacturers such as Aperion Audio to the rescue, providing a high value by dropping a couple of layers of distribution costs. Here I evaluate a complete 5.1 Channel INTIMUS Theater/Audio loudspeaker system from Aperion, formerly known as Edge Audio. The review system retails for $1,399, configured with the INTIMUS S10 powered subwoofer. The Aperion includes a 30-day full money back guarantee for a no-risk audition if you are not able to hear the system before you purchase. Also, Aperion offers free shipping. This certainly falls into the affordable range for many readers, but the question is, does it deliver the goods for such a reasonable price?
The 5.1 Channel INTIMUS Theater/Audio loudspeaker system consists of four 522D-LR speakers ($180 each), one 522D-C center speaker ($180), and one of three subwoofers, the S8 ($399), S10 ($499) or S12 ($599). The 522D-LRs serve as the main left and right loudspeakers, and also as surrounds. As you unpack the speakers, each encased in a protective dark blue velvet cloth bag, you sense something out of the ordinary, particularly at this price point. The review samples came in a beautifully finished medium cherry veneer with pads on the bottom, exuding character and class right out of the box. The five-way gold-plated binding posts located on the rear panel are high quality and solid, particularly for this price range, although they are a bit small for use with ultra-low gauge (thick) speaker wires. The driver complement of this ported, magnetically shielded, 11.5 inches high by seven-and-one-third inches wide by eight inches deep, two-way monitor consists of a five-and-one-quarter-inch midrange woofer and a one-inch ferro fluid-filled soft-dome tweeter. The 522D-C center speaker is basically a 522D-LR turned on its side, with different grille cloth and binding post orientations, and pads moved to one of the long sides of the enclosure. The 522D’s all utilize the patented DiAural circuit crossover technique. The DiAural crossover does not use capacitors to band limit the signals to each respective driver, as in a typical crossover network. Instead, both drivers are connected in series, delivering the full range audio signal to each transducer. Parallel components protect the drivers from damaging frequencies, resulting in a loudspeaker that claims to have reduced distortion and increased phase coherence without the risk of driver burnout. All of the 522D speakers have a rated response of 60 Hz to 20 kHz, with the low end beginning to roll off by 100 Hz. For secure stand and bracket mounting, the 522Ds all have a one-quarter-inch threaded insert on the bottom panel. They are available in a high gloss black or medium cherry finish.
The Aperion system delivered for review included the mid-sized INTIMUS S10 subwoofer. The S10 has the same eye-catching packaging and finish as the 522D, in a very attractively dimensioned cabinet measuring 17.5 inches high by 13.25 inches wide by 19 inches deep, weighing a substantial 56 pounds. As the model number implies, this subwoofer has a long-throw 10-inch driver, powered by an amplifier rated at 200 watts continuous into four ohms, resulting in a frequency response of 25 Hz to 160 Hz. The back panel amplifier plate features a very versatile set of controls, including dials for continuously variable output level, crossover frequency, and phase alignment from 0 to 180 degrees. The S10 accepts line or speaker level inputs, and can be set to automatically turn on when a signal is present. Like the 522Ds, all of the INTIMUS subwoofers are available in a high gloss black or medium cherry finish.
An excellent, comprehensive owner’s manual is included with the Aperion INTIMUS Theater/Audio system. It is a very complete, informative and readable document, a style that I’d like to see adopted by other manufacturers. Those unfamiliar with home theater will be instructed on the basics, and even the experienced may learn a thing or two from the numerous detailed connection diagrams and sound and positioning optimization pointers. I did find one confusing issue relating to subwoofer setup. The manual suggests setting both your receiver and subwoofer crossover frequencies at 80 HZ, which would not be correct. If I understand their recommendations, you will get double attenuation at the crossover point, likely creating a hole in the response, with unpredictable results at best. If the crossover in your preamp or receiver is used, the subwoofer should be set at the highest frequency available to get it out the way as much as possible. It would be preferable to have a control that bypasses the subwoofer crossover completely to eliminate any chance of interaction with the receiver crossover.
I mounted the Aperion 522D-LR front main speakers on 27-inch-high stands, but the user may purchase suitable 30-inch speaker stands from Aperion online for a reasonable price of $100 per pair. After much adjusting, I settled on a location 32 inches from the front wall and three feet from the sidewalls, nine-feet separating them, and 11 feet from my listening position. The 522D-C center channel was located either on a low stand below my projector screen, 16 inches above the floor, or on top of my CRT display, in both cases angled directly at my ears. The final subwoofer location was 32 inches diagonally out from the front right corner, achieving a satisfying compromise between power and seamless integration with the mains. In my room, the optimal crossover point to my ears was a rather high 100 Hz, curing a slight thinness and lack of weight present with the more common 80 Hz point. The surrounds were mounted on small, adjustable wall shelves about one foot behind the main listening chair and four feet off the ground. Aperion also offers versatile wall-mount brackets for the 522D-LRs for $65 a pair.