Definitive Technology BP7000SC Bipolar Super Tower Loudspeakers 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Written by Andrew Robinson   
Thursday, 01 March 2007

Introduction
Definitive Technology has built one of the single most impressive brands in the highly competitive world of loudspeakers. Definitive has built a name where they are a “call brand” loudspeaker that consumers demand with the likes of Bose, Boston Acoustics, B&W, Paradigm, Klipsch and a handful of the other biggest manufacturers. While Definitive Technology’s ads and mighty distribution certainly have aided the company’s growth, it is more the bang for the buck performance that keeps consumers asking for them and dealers pushing. Whether you are looking for wafer-thin speakers for your new 63-inch HDTV or you need no-holds-barred audiophile floor-standing speakers, Definitive has a solution for you. In the case of this review, the Super Towers are in the latter class – they are ultimate floor-standing speakers, a statement without question in terms of sound as well as value.

The BP7000SCs arrived at my house right on the heels of some of audiophiles’ most touted and coveted loudspeakers: Magnepan 3.6, Gallo Reference, Martin Logan and even Wilson Audio. My room prior to the BP7000SC Super Towers’ arrival was truly a revolving door of noncommittal relationships as I searched for Miss Right Now. Needless to say, the Super Towers had their work cut out for them.

I unpacked the BP7000SCs, which is without question a job for two people (or better yet, two installers), and sat them haphazardly in the middle of my room for a once-over. The BP7000SCs are truly epic in more ways than one. For starters, they are quite large, measuring a little less than nine inches wide by 16 inches deep and a towering 52-and-a-half inches high. Visually, the BP7000SCs are Definitive through and through, with their black piano gloss base and top plates and black fabric sides. The BP7000SCs are also quite heavy and, while I didn’t have a scale on hand to accurately measure the BP7000SCs’ true weight, I’d venture a guess and say they’re upwards of 150 pounds apiece. All of these figures add up to one gargantuan loudspeaker. However, their price of $4,998 a pair is rather modest in comparison to the competition, which can fairly be priced as much as four to five times the retail price.

Behind the seams, the BP7000SC has a true bi-polar design, with its high-mounted, dual six-and-a-half inch midrange drivers and single one-inch aluminum dome tweeter mirrored on the speaker’s backside. The BP7000SC is fairly efficient for a speaker of its size and stature, with a stated efficiency of 92dB into a rather benign eight-ohm load. Each of the BP7000SCs feature a 14-inch Super Cube® long-throw powered subwoofer, coupled to two 14-inch infrasonic radiators. The internal sub is powered by an internal ***1800-watt*** Class D amplifier, which gives the BP7000SC a stated frequency response of 11Hz-30kHz. Definitive Technology states that the single 14-inch sub inside the BP7000SC is capable of achieving depths equal to that of seven stand-alone Super Cube® subwoofers. If even half of that statement is true, we’re talking about a copious amount of bass. The subwoofer portion of the BP7000SC can be controlled via the speaker’s binding posts and large, rear-mounted volume pot or via the LFE input. This allows you connectivity options you just don’t get with even the highest-priced loudspeakers. However, due to the presence of a powered subwoofer, the BP7000SC must be plugged into a standard US outlet or power conditioner to take advantage of the prodigious bass capabilities.

Set-up
After I took stock in all that the BP7000SCs had to offer, I began the process of integrating them into my system. For starters, I placed them in approximately in the same place where the Yao Ming-like Magnepan 3.6s had rested. This put the BP7000SCs roughly three feet from my front wall and two-and-a-half feet from each of the side walls. To be fully forthright, most of my speakers find themselves roughly in this position in my room, as this yields the best overall coherence and sound stage depth. However, unlike the Maggies, the BP7000SCs did sound best with considerable toe-in, with the main midrange drivers and tweeter coming to a point virtually right at the listening position. There was some minor tweaking here and there but, for the most part, I had achieved a suitable sound, at least throughout the midrange and high frequencies, with little effort. I connected the bass or Super Cube® portion of the BP7000SCs to my Meridian G68’s LFE output using a splitter. However, after much experimentation, I found I preferred to simply run the BP7000SCs full range through single and very sexy runs of Transparent Reference speaker cable. This configuration allowed me to set my processor’s speaker settings to Large and then dial in the sub’s overall volume at the speaker itself. This configuration also came in handy when I connect the BP7000SCs to my two-channel rig, consisting of a Mark Levinson 433 amplifier and matching 326 preamp (reviews pending on both Mark Levinson components), which doesn’t have a speaker setting and must run everything full-range. I ended up setting the volume dials on each of the speakers to roughly 10’o clock, with high noon signaling halfway. That’s a scary thought, considering the amount of blissful bass I experienced at such a low setting; needless to say, I didn’t really scratch the surface of the BP7000SCs’ sub-sonic output.

I must also point out that, for the course of this review, Definitive Technology sent me a matching full-range powered center, the L/C/R 3000, and a pair of bipolar surrounds, the BPVX/Ps. I should also mention that, should you invest in this system, the entire system price for what I’ve just described will run you roughly $7,500. Considering the price of most high-end multi-channel speaker groupings, it’s an astonishingly low figure for a full-range speaker system.

Movies And Television
I kicked things off with the Peter Malick Group, featuring the ever-popular Norah Jones (Koch Records). This tremendous recording features Jones’ trademark breathy vocals, accompanied by the well-recorded stylings of blues guitarist Peter Malick. The opening track, “New York City,” features a very articulate drum line accompanied by a punchy yet slow rolling bass guitar. Through the BP7000SCs, the bass lines were rendered with excellent heft and impact while retaining all the necessary speed and articulation found in all of the best acoustic recordings. The kick drum has a three-dimensionality to it that you’ll need a true full-range speaker to fully realize, which the BP7000SCs provided time and again. The kick drum was beautifully rendered and on par with the best in terms of breath, extension and weight. One cannot fault the BP7000SCs’ large subwoofer drivers for being slow; in fact, they are among the most nimble I’ve heard in recent memory. Moving up the spectrum, Norah’s vocals were as pristine as ever. The BP7000SC’s tweeter is nearly without rival in terms of air, extension and ultimate sweetness. I tend to shy away from aluminum tweeters as, more often than not, they are brittle and can become harsh at louder volumes. Well, the BP7000SC’s tweeter doesn’t fall into this camp. It only gets better with more volume. If I had to fault it, I’d say it doesn’t retain all of its magic when played by at low levels usually reserved for background music during cocktail parties. Then again, at those levels, you’re not critically listening anyway, so there you go. Where the BP7000SCs really shine is throughout the midrange, which is delightfully rich without becoming overtly bloated, a trait beautifully illustrated throughout Norah’s vocals. The midrange is warm and has a tinge of added weight to it, but the result is fantastic when judged against the speaker’s other elements. More importantly, for a speaker with so many drivers, the sonic presentation is seamless. The BP7000SCs can image in a ways that defy their large stature, seemingly disappearing, leaving only music and one hell of a center image behind. The BP7000SCs’ soundstage is second to none. If given space, and they do need space, the BP7000SCs’ soundstage can and will best my longstanding reference, the Magnepan 3.6s. Not only did the BP7000SCs’ soundstage extend further and wider than the 3.6s had, they had a firmer grip on the music even in the furthest reaches of their capabilities then the 3.6s could ever hope to achieve.

Moving onto the track “Deceptively Yours,” which is a bit more up-tempo than the previous track, the BP7000SCs continued to grace me with magic. The opening drum riff that heralds Norah’s vocals was impressive. It’s not a bombastic fill, but it does burst onto the scene about 10 seconds into the track and sets the tempo for what’s to come. Once again, the subs proved most impressive, giving the entire track a fullness you’d never know you were missing until you incorporated subwoofers properly into your system. The entire song had an extra injection of funk because of the staggering bass performance of the BP7000SCs. I cranked the volume to the edge of my listening envelope for the guitar solo and found I could actually take it a little further, for the BP7000SCs never became harsh or fatiguing. The bluesy guitar riff was richly and rightly detailed with the appropriate amount of warmth and subtle sonic twang that the BP7000SCs just had a ball swanking out. It really was kind of cool and a bit refreshing, for here I was basking in the glory of a speaker system that seemingly gets it for the cost you’d expect to pay in tax alone for the competition. And they do bass. Go figure.

I switched gears a bit and opted for a recent Pearl Jam release, Riot Act (Epic). The opening to the track “I Am Mine” was rife with detail. The cymbals don’t sparkle the way some recordings do, but they were dead on for what they were. You could tell the cymbals were being beaten, for the shimmer was replaced with a hint of flat slap that the tweeter of the BP7000SCs reproduced beautifully. The drums once again reigned supreme, lending a truer sense of weight and scale to the somewhat tamer sound of today’s mature Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder’s vocals were dead center in the soundstage and retained all the grit and rawness a decade of screaming would hope to produce, yet there was a slightly greater palpability to it all through the BP7000SCs’ warmer midrange. The midrange characteristic never detracted from the tonality or, I should say, tone and message of the song itself.

Moving onto the track “You Are,” the opening guitars were raw and loaded with energy. Through the BP7000SCs, the guitars were sure-footed and full-bodied, never becoming overtly harsh or troublesome to the rest of the musical spectrum. Dynamically, the BP7000SCs proved to be a tour de force. “You Are” features several abrupt changes in tempo, usually followed by abrupt stops altogether. Well, for such a large and seemingly menacing speaker with its powered woofers, the BP7000SCs are as quick on their feet as Ali. They can float like a butterfly and sting like a sledgehammer to the skull. As unpleasant as that may sound to some, trust me, you’ll get in line to experience it again and again.

All and all, be it rock and roll or ensemble jazz, the BP7000SCs seemingly have no prejudices, they’re in the business of making music … and business is good. Real good.

For their next trick, I fed the BP7000SCs some traditional DVD fare by way of the Pixar juggernaut Finding Nemo (Disney). Skipping ahead to the sea turtle scenes, the BP7000SCs, with some help from the matching center and surrounds, proved as fun as they were articulate. For starters, the sound designers who recreated the ocean for an all-virtual environment, which is no easy task, were not robbed of their efforts one iota by the BP7000SCs’ output. The sonic landscape was immense, packing my room with all the subtlety that the ocean had to offer and more, no doubt helped by the BP7000SC’s bipolar design. Even with the most subtle sonic cues, such as the characters swimming against an oceanic current, were easily heard and discerned from the film’s other elements. The off-screen dialogue was rendered through the BP7000SCs with the same importance and presence as if it was mixed for the center channel. The BP7000SCs allow for every minute detail to come to life without causing undue impact to the rest of the audio canvas. Across all three front channels, the sonic characteristic was seamless, bowling me over with a wave sonic brilliance. When the scene picks up and the score kicks, in the rumbling drums of the surfer-esque musical track was as home with the BP7000SCs as I am in my own bed. The bass was, once again, simply stunning. No scene illustrates this more than when the brace-faced villain Darla thumps on the glass of the dentist’s aquarium. The bass was so tremendous that it moved my chunky wooden coffee table across the floor of my theater, and did so without distortion or bloat. Keep in mind that I had the subs dialed in to a third of their total output. So, unless your theater is the size of, say, Rhode Island, you’re covered. Dynamically, the BP7000SCs seemingly have no rivals, as they are able to turn on a dime and go from zero to everything in the blink of an eye.

To go over the top with the BP7000SCs, I spun up the Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg hit War of the Worlds (Paramount Home Entertainment). I skipped ahead to the scene where the aliens emerge from the city streets and begin to wreak havoc on the Boston common folk. Again, the bass took center stage. However, the BP7000SCs’ tweeters were not to be outdone. Through lesser speakers, the aliens’ ray guns sizzle with little fanfare, as they turn the public into ashtray fodder. With the BP7000SCs in my theater, the laser-like ray had an added sense of sinister power, as you could hear the subtlest sounds of cooking through the tweeters. When the bodies do finally go “poof,” the scattering of their ashes is much more deliberate and textured through the BP7000SCs than through other speakers, which pass their ashes more or less like noise then human matter. The added midrange warmth of the BP7000SCs during these moments provided a greater sense of air and weight to the vaporized bodies as the wind caught the remains and tossed them about downtown. The shattering glass as the aliens mow through town was amazingly nimble and the BP7000SCs’ ability to resolve macro detail was more than apparent, as I could audibly track seemingly every shard’s journey to the ground. Again, the bass performance was simply epic, regardless of what was happening on the screen. The BP7000SCs produce the type of sound you need in your room if you’re using a projection-based system, for anything less will be anemic at best and simply won’t do if your screen is pushing upwards of 92 inches diagonally.

The Downside
I find it rationally hard to fault the Definitive Technology BP7000SCs for anything. Frankly, past complaints about their size and look I feel are a bit unfounded, for these are big speakers in the business of producing big sound. What else can you expect? Sure, BP7000SCs need a bit of breathing room and a nearby power outlet or two, but I have to imagine that those of you smart enough to welcome the BP7000SCs into your home are also savvy enough to know how to call an electrician to move a socket or two.

These speakers are heavy and, because they are physically thinner than most speakers in their class, are prone to tipping. However, the included carpet spikes really go a long way toward solving this problem.

Quite honestly, the biggest issue I had with the BP7000SCs was their piano gloss end caps, which not only showed fingerprints like nobody’s business, but were harder to keep clean and dust-free than any speaker I’ve ever encountered. I had my Swiffer on permanent standby throughout the duration of the review.

Conclusion
The Definitive Technology BP7000SC Super Towers, with a retail price just shy of five grand, are as close to a true masterpiece of audio engineering as anything I’ve encountered in all my years in audio. They do equal justice to music and movies and everything else in between. No longer does the rationale of compromise need to enter the audio debate.

Compare the Definitive Technology BP7000SC loudspeakers with the best from the world of ultra-high end and you might find overall the Definitive speaker system is the most well-rounded in a group that includes speakers costing as much as a new Prius. With a big yet detailed sound, it’s just hard to beat such a rocking loudspeaker system. At their price, the Definitive Technology BP7000SCs are simply amazing.
Manufacturer Definitive Technology
Model BP7000SC Bipolar Super Tower Loudspeakers
Reviewer Andrew Robinson





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