Aperion Audio Intimus 633-T Loudspeakers 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Written by Andrew Robinson   
Wednesday, 01 August 2007

As much as I love high-end gear and the brands associated with it, I have a special place in my heart for the little guys. While you can hardly call a brand such as Aperion “little,” they don’t quite have the brand equity of, say, Paradigm, Definitive Technology or B&W. Still, Aperion has made a name for itself over the years by producing well-regarded and very good-sounding speakers at surprisingly affordable prices, which they sell direct to the consumer, with a 30-day money-back trial period, via their website. While Web-based consumer electronic sales are nothing new, Aperion’s website stands apart from some of the competition, in that it doesn’t appear to be homegrown. Aperion’s website, www.aperionaudio.com is nicely designed, extremely informative and has a stylistic flair to it equal to some of the biggest names in the business. But don’t think all this design flash is meant to distract you from a substandard product. No, the new Intimus line of speakers, especially the 633-Ts reviewed here, is quite good.

The Intimus 633-T tower speakers arrived at my home hot on the heels of a slew of budget gear. If there is anything I’ve learned from the past few reviews I’ve done, it’s that the word “budget” should be only applied to the price, for the various products’ performances were anything but. Nevertheless, the 633-Ts are budget speakers in that they’re easy on the wallet, retailing for a modest $499 each or $998 for a pair. My pair came finished in a brilliant black lacquer piano finish. Aperion also offers the 633-T in a medium cherry at no additional cost. I must comment on Aperion’s packing, which is among the best I’ve ever seen. The speakers were double-boxed with a simple foam casing that completely cocooned the speakers, wrapped neatly in their black velvet bags for safekeeping. Fresh out of the box, the 633-Ts exuded a sense of class and sophistication not found with speakers in the Intimus’ price bracket or even some beyond. Before they ever were plugged in, I got the feeling I was in for something special, and I get the feeling Aperion truly believes that their products are in fact special.

The 633-T is pretty standard for a floor-standing speaker in terms of size, measuring in at 41-and-a-half inches tall by 10-and-a-quarter inches wide (at the base) and 18-and-a-quarter inches deep. It is surprisingly inert throughout its cabinet, which weighs an impressive 70 pounds. The 633-T has a two-way design, with a single one-inch silk dome tweeter mounted above two six-and-one-half-inch carbon fiber mid/bass woofers. The 633-T has a front-ported design, which means you can place it a bit closer to your front wall than a rear-ported speaker. It features a single pair of gold-plated binding posts capable of accepting bare wire, as well as spade or banana plug cable adaptors.

Behind the scenes, the 633-T has a reported frequency response of 38Hz to 20kHz, with a 90dB sensitivity rating into six ohms. Aperion recommends a solid 50-300 watts per channel to get the 633-Ts to sound their best. While I did use the 633-Ts in my reference rig for a spell, I can safely say you don’t need 300 watts on tap to make the 633-Ts sing. In fact, most of today’s entry-level to mid-fi receivers will power the 633-Ts beautifully without the need for more power.

While this review will primarily focus on the 633-Ts, Aperion was kind enough to loan me a matching center speaker, the 634-VAC, which retails for $495 and compliments the 633-Ts beautifully both physically and sonically. They also sent along one of their subwoofers, the S-12, which is a 12-inch, 250-watt powered subwoofer retailing for $599. Both are available in either piano black or medium cherry at no extra cost. If you needed rears, which I did not, Aperion makes those, too. Regardless of what system you choose to build Aperion has got you covered. Hell, they’ll even sell you cables. I really do like this approach to manufacturing and marketing. While my system is comprised of numerous components from various manufacturers, I can’t help think of consumers like my parents who don’t necessarily have the time or the inclination to search far and wide for an interconnection, which is why companies like Aperion are able redefine value in more ways than just price.

Once unpacked, I went ahead and set up the 633-Ts in my reference system, which consists of a Mark Levinson No. 433 multi-channel amp, Meridian G68 surround sound controller, Toshiba HD-A20 HD DVD player, Sony Blu-ray player and modified Apple TV, with all the visuals being handled by my trusty Sony “Pearl” projector. As my time with the 633-Ts continued, I swapped out my Mark Levinson and Meridian gear for the recently reviewed Yamaha RX-V861 receiver. Lastly, I decided to move the entire speaker system upstairs into my new home office, which is where the gear remains to this day, powered by the Yamaha receiver and mated to my Apple Pro Mac, Denon universal player and 50-inch HDTV Vizio display.

Regardless of which system or the room they were in, I found the 633-Ts remarkably easy to set up and a bit forgiving of room placement and/or conditions. While the 633-Ts responded favorably when given a bit of room to breathe, especially in regard to their placement from the front wall, they didn’t require it the way most loudspeakers do. In terms of set-up, I found the 633-Ts and the rest of the Aperion speakers to be some of the easiest I’ve encountered thus far.

Music And Movies
I kicked things off with the multi-platinum-selling hip-hop album, Country Grammar from Nelly (Umvd Labels). Starting with the title track, “Country Grammar,” the 633-Ts were bangin’. With the Aperion sub sitting idle on the sidelines, the bass from the 633-Ts was quite impressive, taut, deep and had a hint of swagger fitting of the genre. Honestly, at the right volume, I questioned the 633-Ts’ need for a sub, for I found them to be full-range enough for my tastes. The treble sounded surprising good for speakers at this price. The bells that play throughout the track were extremely nimble and shimmered, rather than sizzled, with a fair amount of air and sparkle. When I pushed the 633-Ts to the limit, I was able to make the tweeters act up, but they failed to become overtly offensive the way most budget tweeters often do. The midrange, while not the cornerstone of hip-hop music, was quite nice, natural-sounding and a bit forward, but not overly warm or bloated. Dynamically, once the speakers were broken in, the 633-Ts were quite good. They are power friendly and I found it took very little to go from casual levels to downright explosive. The 633-Ts can play loud, very loud, and hold their composure rather well, even when punished with ear-splitting levels.

I decided to get a little funky with the Aperions and cued up the classic Ice Cream Castle from The Time (Warner Bros). On the track “Jungle Love,” the bass guitar was awesome through the 633-Ts. While the Aperion subwoofer did add a bit of weight and scale to the performance, the 633-Ts proved to be no slouches when asked to play full range. The bass guitar was punchy, raunchy and raw, with excellent texture and definition. The rim shots and snare hits were explosive, each one striking like a shot straight to the heart. Once the song breaks into the solos, the 633-Ts’ abilities were in total effect, filling my room with some of the funkiest sound I’ve heard in a long time. The screeching guitars were energetic, sure-footed and kept firmly in check within the soundstage, only becoming a bit too forceful when I throttled up the volume in an attempt to make the walls of my house explode. The keyboard solo was rich with the appropriate amount of digital faux reverb you’d expect in a synthetic organ sound. All in all, the 633-Ts were extremely exciting and proved to me once again why I love good budget speakers so much: they’re just so damn fun.

Next, I opted for something a bit more chill, coming by way of Mindy Smith’s duet and cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” from her album One Moment More (Vanguard). The opening guitars sounded very natural with just a hint of sweetness. The guitars were a bit larger than life and did lack that last bit of resolution and air, but it was minor and, unless you had a pair of reference speakers like my Paradigm Signature S8s to compare the 633-Ts to, you weren’t going to miss it. Especially when it came to the guitars, I also liked and appreciated just how nimble the 633-T’s midrange was, keeping pace with the track’s higher frequencies and never straying into the lower registers. The treble, once again, was quite good. The cymbals through the 633-Ts didn’t quite fool me into thinking I was hearing the real thing, but they didn’t sound like tin cans being banged together, either. The 633-Ts’ biggest strength came by way of its vocal reproduction, which was amazing. The 633-Ts projected both Mindy Smith and Dolly Parton well out into the soundstage, giving me a front row performance that was extremely lifelike, nicely detailed and highly enjoyable. I’m a vocal junkie, especially when it comes to good female vocals; if you’re like me, you’re going to love the 633-Ts. Again, the subtlest of nuances in vocal timbre were missing, but the 633-Ts’ essence and musicality more than made up for the omission. In terms of soundstage, the 633-Ts were remarkable. They could image and disappear like nobody’s business and did so without a great deal of audiophile tinkering. Beyond the individual musical elements, what I liked most about the 633-Ts was their overall presentation, which was more balanced, albeit a tad forward-sounding, than that of any other budget speaker I’ve encountered in a long time. The 633-Ts’ musical presentation is one that must be judged as a whole and not by the some of its parts; they are the type of speakers that want you to enjoy your music rather than simply listen to it.

I decided to kill two birds with one stone, forgoing straight multi-channel music, for a musical, Moulin Rouge on DVD (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment). I chaptered ahead to my favorite scene, featuring Ewan McGregor’s rendition of “Roxanne” a la tango. For starters, McGregor’s vocals were powerful, rich and extremely natural. Normally, I don’t really comment on another dude’s singing, but this dude can sing and, through the 633-Ts, sing he did. When the rest of the cast chimes in, the sonic landscape was awe-inspiring. Larger than life doesn’t do the 633-Ts justice, as they overwhelmed me with sound, more like a seven-foot line array than traditional cone and dome speakers. The orchestral moments were brilliantly detailed, allowing me to hear well into the soundstage, which was impressively deep, and pick out individual instruments, even the sound of bows quivering across the strings of the violins. This no doubt a testament to how good the 633-Ts’ tweeters are, given their price and make. The bass was taut and quite forceful, which surprised me, because I forgot to turn on the sub. Truthfully, unless you’re a diehard bass head, the 633-Ts may provide you with all the bass you’ll need, regardless of your content, be it music or movies. Dynamically, the 633-Ts have few rivals and even fewer equals at their price point. However, they do like to be turned up (within reason) and roughed up a bit before sounding their absolute best. Go too far and the 633-Ts begin to show their faults. Too little on the volume and you’re not going to hear all that they’re capable of. If my time spent watching Moulin Rouge was any indication, the 633-Ts are not casual background speakers, no, they’re the main event and that’s just fine by me.

When the music finally wound down, the 633-Ts proved they weren’t one-trick ponies. Normal dialogue at moderate volumes was lifelike in tonality, scale and weight. Having the Aperion center channel in the mix was like adding a third 633-T to the front stereo mains; the presentation was seamless. In some of the dressing room scenes, where actors of all shapes and sizes are bustling about, carrying on various conversations. With the help of the center channel, the 633-Ts kept each one in check and balanced them beautifully in and about the soundstage. One last thing I’d like to point out: if you think all budget tweeters are the same, that they’re usually harsh and fatiguing and not worth a damn, you need to listen to the “confetti” part of the scene featuring Nicole Kidman’s rendition of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The effect will make your hair stand on end and cause you to rethink what is possible from an affordable speaker like the 633-T in terms of high-frequency performance. The shimmering little twinkle sounds were amazing through the 633-Ts.

The Downside
I very much enjoyed my time with the Aperion 633-Ts, but in that time, I’ve found a few faults. For starters, there is the finish. While topnotch and exceedingly beautiful, the 633-Ts in the piano gloss finish were prone to showing dust and difficult to keep free of unwanted fingerprints.

Next, when played back at rock show levels, the 633-Ts had a tendency to get a bit fat in the bass, as well as losing a bit of composure in the tweeter. Also, at extreme volumes, the 633-Ts’ slight forwardness becomes a bit more accentuated. This slight downturn in sound quality never came at the expense of musicality, with which the 633-T’s were quite exceptional. The tubby bass and slight glare in the tweeter at excessive volumes is not a problem exclusive to Aperion; in fact, most speakers near or around the 633-Ts’ price suffer from similar ailments.

The 633-T Tower Loudspeakers from Aperion Audio are amazing overachievers when it comes to both music and movies, and they become all the more impressive when you consider that they can be had for less than a grand for the pair. Don’t believe me: Aperion will let you try them out in your own home for 30 days, risk-free. Don’t like ‘em, then send ‘em back, but I doubt you will. While not the most technical of speakers, in that they won’t go through your music collection with a microscope, they are a blast to listen to. They are fairly forgiving of source material and components, always allowing for the essence of the music or film to come through, and where they falter, they try to do so politely so as not to ruin your overall experience. The 633-Ts are also amongst the easiest speakers I’ve ever lived with day to day, as they don’t need to be coddled a quarter of an inch at a time in order to sound their best. They are, for lack of a better word, complete. If someone were to ask me, and I do get asked a lot, “Hey, I’m looking for speakers that sound good, no, better than good, that aren’t going to cost me a paycheck and a half that I can just listen to and enjoy. What should I buy?” My answer: try Aperion.
Manufacturer Aperion Audio
Model Intimus 633-T Loudspeakers
Reviewer Andrew Robinson

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