|Definitive Technology ProCinema 80 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Thursday, 01 September 2005|
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Music and Movies
I began my evaluation with some traditional CDs, beginning with Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill Acoustic (Maverick) re-recording of her original 1994 breakout album of the same name. Right off the bat, the ProCinema system did not disappoint. On Track Eight, “Head Over Feet,” Morrisette’s voice floated dead center stage with a sort of eerie realism and weight that made me sit up and take note. I’ve had very respected mini-monitors at almost double the ProCinema 80’s asking price that couldn’t manage this feat. Throughout the track, the midrange was unfaltering in its realism and dimensionality, placing Morrisette squarely in the middle of my room despite the left and right speakers being 13 feet apart. In regards to the high frequencies, the ProCinema’s aluminum tweeter never sounded harsh or brittle, even at high volumes. In fact, I would say it was a little on the polite side if anything, providing a relaxed and pleasing sound. Moving on to Track Two, “You Oughtta Know,” the kick drum was wonderfully reproduced through the ProSub, with each strike of the mallet resonating with the appropriate amount of weight and reverberation. I could not only hear individual strikes but also the difference in force behind them, giving the drum a very tight and accurate pitch throughout the track. Regardless of the track, the ProCinema system was above all musical, which shocked me, given its emphasis for home theater and its minimal price. Another thing to point out is the ProCinema’s ability to recreate a very lucid soundstage that favored just a little more width than depth, but nevertheless was a bonus I wasn’t really anticipating to find at its price point.
Quickly spinning up another CD, I chose Blues Traveler’s best-selling album Four (A&M). Despite its over-saturation on the radio a few years back, it still remains one of the band’s better albums. On the track “Just Wait,” the bass guitar was very articulate, leaving behind the sluggish one-note bass I had grown accustomed to, and showcasing the ProSub’s ability to not only keep up but blend seamlessly with the rest of the ProCinema system. Later in the track, there is a ripping guitar solo that on other speakers in this price range can be a bit like an ice pick to the head. The ProCinema speakers not only handled it with grace, but also delivered a wonderfully energetic and dynamic performance, proving they had the gusto to rock out regardless of volume without punishing your ears to the point of bleeding.
For multi-channel listening, I turned to the Dual Disc of Ben Fold’s latest offering, Songs for Silverman (Epic). On track four, “Landed,” the ProCinema system presented a fantastically natural and true to life piano solo. This was clearly the best I have heard in this price class to date. The highs gained a little resolution and air, all the while remaining free of glare. In track six, “Trusted,” the ProCinema system expanded on their already stellar dynamic capabilities, showing off their complete ability to go from zero to whatever the music called for with the grace of a fine Italian sports car. I’d have to categorize the system as energetic and slightly forward in its presentation, but never at the expense of musicality. Sure, there are going to be richer speakers out there, but I’d have to imagine at this price point what the ProCinemas lack in romanticism, they more than make up for in sheer toe-tapping musical enjoyment.
I next turned my attention to movies and fed it a steady dose of summer blockbuster fare. First up was the anticipated yet ultimately disappointing sequel to Michael Bay’s “Bad Boys.” “Bad Boys II” (Columbia/Tri-Star) is a perfect example of a popcorn movie and, while it dispenses with pleasantries, what it lacks in story, it makes up for it by making things go boom. During the 15-minute freeway chase towards the beginning of the film, I was reminded of why I love home theater so much. The ProCinema 80 system cooked up all the adrenaline sweat-soaked action I could take and left me yearning for more. I must have watched that selection a dozen times back to back, all the while grinning like a kid in a candy store after a trip to the dentist. The ProCinema system didn’t assault the senses the way many lower-priced speaker packages can, but rather walked a tightrope, balancing the sounds of breaking glass and distant gunfire with a Ferrari doing battle with falling cars from an 18-wheeler, all the while keeping the dialogue in check and beautifully intelligible.
To close out my evaluation, I ended with the final chapter of the “Matrix” saga, “Matrix Revolutions” (Warner Home Video). When I skipped ahead to the climactic battle between Neo and Agent Smith, the ProCinema system enveloped me with a delightful mixture of atmospheric rain and heart-pounding score. The drums rage as Neo charges Agent Smith for the final showdown, every step resonating with the appropriate amount of slap and wetness as their feet strike the pavement. The thunderclaps chime in with the proper weight and impact. (On one cloudy night, I was certain they were coming from outside.) As the battle comes to a close, Agent Smith pauses to reflect on his own greatness, as Neo lies motionless in a crater filled with rain and sewage. The ProCimema’s ability to reproduce special cues is nothing short of astonishing. Not only was it raining all around me, but I felt as if it was coming down directly on me. Had there been a water leak at that exact moment from the unit above me, I probably would’ve jumped into a closet. The effect was downright creepy.