There are certain names in the speaker business that it seems like everyone knows. Boston Acoustics is one such name. The company has been building speakers since 1979 but hasn't forgotten its two-channel “stereo” roots. But even a dedicated two-channel guy like myself has come to appreciate the home theater experience, so I split the difference for this review and asked Boston Acoustics for a traditional pair of floorstanding loudspeakers along with a subwoofer. I received a pair of BA's CS (Classic Series) 226 floorstanders ($229.99/each) in tandem with the company's 10Wi wireless-ready subwoofer ($499.99) I've found that nearly every loudspeaker benefits from having a bass-focused brother on the floor, and this 2.1 setup was no exception.
CS 226 Specs
The CS 226's are 2-way, rear-ported speakers sporting a pair of 6&1/2-inch woofers and a single 1-inch tweeter. The woofers are graphite injected polymer and employ Boston's proprietary DCD (Deep Channel Design), engineered to produce fuller bass from lower amp power. To bring out the highs, Boston uses soft dome tweeters constructed from Kortec. One side of the tweeter is treated with a stiffening agent for fast signal response; the other side is untreated and functions partially to dampen vibrations and ensure smooth sound. The 226s are moderately sensitive at 89dB and work with a variety of power sources, with a recommended range of 15 to 250 watts. Frequency response is a respectable 46Hz to 25kHz. Another reviewer astutely pointed out that frequency response has no bearing on how a speaker will actually sound; rather, it's more of a benchmark of where it will perform. It's why no two speakers-even those with the same frequency range-sound alike.
The CS 226s are offered in either black walnut or cherry vinyl finish (mine were cherry). The speakers stand just shy of 38 inches tall and measure 8&1/4-inches wide and 10&3/8-inches deep. A pair of plastic feet bearing hard rubber discs are attached to the sides of each speaker. The discs provide support and keep the speakers from moving on wood floors. Connections are made via 5-way gold-plated binding posts, which support single or dual banana plugs, pins, spades and bare wire up to 10 gauge. My speaker cables are terminated with single bananas, which formed a tight lock with the posts. The 226s feature removable grilles, and like in all my reviews the grilles come off when I listen.
CPS 10Wi Specs
The CPS 10Wi is a stout 40-pound sub with a 300-watt RMS amplifier capable of peaks up to 650 watts. The high-output, front-firing, front-ported sub also employs Boston's Deep Channel Design for better bass response at lower amplifier power and features BassTrac circuitry, engineered for “tight, distortion-free bass at all output levels.” If you want to go wireless with the 10Wi, Boston makes it easy with its WT 50 Wireless Transmitter. Simply connect the transmitter to a receiver's subwoofer jack and plug the transmitter in. The 2.4GHz makes it possible to play wirelessly up to 50 feet away. Otherwise, you can connect directly to a receiver's Sub Out jack or a preamp out on either a receiver or amplifier. Like the CS 226s, the CPS 10Wi is available in black walnut vinyl or cherry vinyl finish.
First Impressions & Setup
I was immediately struck by the finish of the CS 226s. When I hear “vinyl,” the first thing that comes to mind is “seam-y” wrapping that's bound to be peeling somewhere. That's not the case here. The 226s have a resilient and seamless finish that emulates a real wood look (the cabinets are actually built of MDF), and at 33 pounds each, the 226s feel like real speakers. As well, the CPS 10Wi is a beefy boy whose design and finish would be at home in nearly any setting.
My setup with the 226s and 10Wi is probably unusual compared to how most consumers would use the three speakers, but it worked well for me. I connected the trio to a two-channel integrated amplifier (Pathos Logos, a review of which will be forthcoming here). The 226s went to the standard right/left channel, while I hooked the sub to the amp's pre-out. The Logos is an A/B design that produces 110 watts into 8 ohms. What I found is that the amp could easily drive the speakers to listenable levels at very low volumes, yet hold nothing back in a recording. This speaks surely to the amp's own abilities but also tells me that the 226s can shine brightly given enough juice. This 89Db speaker operated like a speaker with greater sensitivity. That's good news if you struggle to listen in an apartment or other setting where keeping the neighbors happy is a must.