Energy Take 5.2 Home Theater Speaker System 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Tim Hart   
Wednesday, 01 August 2001

There are some of us who want to get into a happening home theater system but don’t have a lot of disposable dinero. There are some of us who don’t have physical space for six speakers due to room size and marital limitations. And there are some of us who don’t want to clutter our rooms with gigantic speakers and subwoofers, yet desire the dynamic sound you get with bigger equipment. Energy has come up with a very compelling product that will fit these types of situations with their Take 5.2 5.1 loudspeaker system ($900).

The Take 5.2 system replaces the venerable four-year-old Take 5 system and therefore has some pretty big shoes to fill. There are a few fairly significant changes on the new version. The 2.2 satellites and the 1.2 center channel are slightly larger and are front-ported instead of a sealed design. The one-inch dome tweeter is also larger than on the older version. These changes are said to allow Take 5.2 to handle more power and produce higher output for deeper bass response.

When I received the speakers, the first thing I thought was, "I didn’t get all of the boxes." What I had in front of me were two medium-sized boxes and a thin box. The thin box contained the optional stands ($75 per pair) that go with the 2.2’s. Surely I was missing one or two boxes. I looked at the packing slip and it listed only three boxes total. Hmmm. Nothing left to do but open them up and see. All four 2.2 satellite speakers, a mere six-and-three-quarter-inches high, four inches wide and six inches deep, and the 1.2 center channel, which is four inches tall, 11 inches wide and six inches deep, were in one box. Upon unwrapping these little gems, I was surprised by how solid the 2.2’s and the 1.2 felt. The glossy black finish on the MDF enclosures is very impressive, looking as good as some speaker cabinets that I’ve seen costing twice as much as the Take 5.2’s. The speaker terminals are easy to get to and even accept my large spade lugs. Both the 2.2 and the 1.2’s frequency response is 80 Hz- to 20 kHz + 3 dB. The 2.2’s are a two-way design with a one-inch laminated aluminum dome tweeter and a three-and-one-half-inch long throw woofer. The 1.2 has two three-and-one-half-inch long throw, with a one-inch laminated aluminum dome tweeter in the middle. Both the 2.2’s and the 1.2 have a measured sensitivity of 89 dB.

Also provided with the 2.2’s is a nifty little mounting bracket for wall mounting. They allow for a wide range of speaker mounting possibilities in the horizontal and vertical positions, with a clever pin and slot setup that requires no tools.

The S8.2 subwoofer stands 15-and three-quarters inches high, nine-and-thirteen-sixteenths inches high, and 12-and–one-half inches deep. The subwoofer is a front-firing, front-ported enclosure. The S8.2 is powered by a 100-watt RMS internal amplifier that drives a long-throw eight-inch woofer, with a measured response of 27-100 Hz + 3 dB. At 22.5 pounds, the S8.2 has a nice solid compact feel to it that gives you confidence in its abilities from the first time you see the it.

Kudos to the designer or executive who decided the crossover and level controls should be on the front of the subwoofer enclosure. I hate having to lean upside-down over a sub in an inconvenient spot. These are the types of intuitive details that add up to a successful experience owning a speaker system like the Take 5.2.

The new S8.2 subwoofer sports the same type of speaker terminals that are found on the 2.2 and the 1.2. The S8.2 also includes two line-level RCA jacks, one labeled "Xover" and the other "Input." The "Xover" input bypasses the sub’s crossover and level controls. You can run directly from your amplifier to the S8.2’s high-level input connections and out to the 2.2’s and the 1.2, or you can use the line-level input to either the bypassed or crossover RCA and power the satellites from your amplifier. Then you’re off to the races.

Setup and Listening
While installing the Energy Take 5.2’s into my two-channel rig, I had to smile at the sight of the 2.2’s with my Audio Truth Forest speaker cables hanging off the back of them. But the one-quarter-inch spade lugs fit perfectly. These are some pretty serious speaker terminals for a speaker in this price range, especially considering how bad the speaker terminals are on some comparably-priced speakers.

I set the Energy front 2.2’s five feet from the side walls and three-and-one-half feet away from the front wall. This setup was not optimum for the bass support, but it provided the best tonal balance and the sound staging was good. The S8.2 sub blended well sitting centered and just back of the 2.2’s.

I started my listening off with Shawn Mullins’ Soul’s Core (Sony Music Entertainment). This disc is my current favorite tool to use for discerning the differences in components. The 2.2’s ability to locate instruments between the speakers is good, with a fairly deep soundstage, which is a nice surprise on an entry-level speaker. My first impression of the 2.2 is that it has more weight than its size would suggest.

The second impression is that The Energy Take 5.2 system has a pleasant tonal balance that really separates it from other speakers in the field. I have heard other systems that lack a nice blend from midrange to lower frequencies, which is a problem due to the difference in size of the drivers. In my bigger room (16’ by 26’), the 2.2’s and the S8.2 do a decent job at filling up my space with a sound that is a little lean yet detailed, with a nice body to the sound. After getting the levels adjusted on the S8.2, the subwoofer presents a quick and tight sound that has a nice punch to the lower frequencies. Energy did it right with the S8.2 by not trying to plumb the deep octaves at the expense of control. The S8.2 blends well with the 2.2’s, as the speakers never seem to be in competition with each other in terms of volume.

Next up was Tool’s Lateralus (Volcano Entertainment). Is it fair to expose such a demure speaker to the sound of modern-day, heavy-hitting art rockers like Tool? I can’t think of a better endurance test than "The Grudge." The hammering bass riff, with the synchronized kick drum at the opening, is taught and fairly dynamic, although not as fleshed out as I have heard it on my $50,000-plus reference music system. However, my room is larger than I would recommend when using these speakers, and which hold up well under this situation. And Take 5.2 shouldn’t be compared to the large-scale, $11,000 per pair Martin Logan Prodigy’s I now use in my reference system.

Moving on to the Cranberries’ To The Faithful Departed (Island Records), Delores O’Riordan Burton’s trademark vocals on "Free To Decide" are centered and slightly behind the speakers. The sound staging is impressive, with an accurate location of instruments and vocals that provides a satisfying musical experience. The 2.2’s do not give me the detailed layering or the air of higher-priced speakers, but they deliver a surprisingly large sound from a very small package.

I moved the S8.2, the 1.2 and the 2.2’s into my theater setup, using the Yamaha RX-V3000 7.1 channel receiver and the Toshiba 9100 progressive scan DVD player. I started off with The Green Mile (Warner Home Video). One difference I have noticed between two-channel and multi-channel listening is how much louder the Take 5.2 system played with all of the speakers, as opposed to just the two 2.2’s and the S8.2 sub. Then again, movies usually have a bigger presence than two-channel music.

When Michael Clarke Duncan’s character, prisoner John Coffey, first heals the warden played by Tom Hanks, the cloud of particles that comes out of his mouth surrounds you and has an effect of making you feel you are in the middle of the cloud. The lights give off a low-level hum and the cloud has a very unusual buzz to it that requires the sound system to be accurate to make this perception engaging. The 2.2’s do a credible job of conveying that perception and the S8.2 handle the low-frequency information to round out the scene. Not too bad for a small speaker!

In Hollow Man (Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment), Kevin Bacon is playing cat and mouse with his coworkers in the steam-filled hallways of the underground lab. Bacon’s voice travels around through all of the speakers as he toys with first one victim, then another. The speakers match seamlessly and never make one more obvious than the other.

In another chapter, the scientific team tries to "bring back" a gorilla they have already invisible. The thrashing and screaming of the gorilla comes through with a dynamic, slightly polite presentation that didn’t stress the 2.2 satellites to duress, but the sound did compress a bit at the higher volumes. I’m really picking nits here, as I think the 2.2’s do a commendable job for their physical size. I have found that I need to remind myself that this is a small speaker system that sounds big, not the other way around. All of the Hollow Man dialogue is nicely balanced and very clear. I did not notice any substantial lobing effect you can sometimes get with two horizontally mounted woofers of the same type.

The Downside
When you take into consideration the audio/video situations the Take 5.2 speaker system was designed for, there isn’t much you can criticize. The system does have physical and performance limitations, but these are only a pressing issue if you put the system to use in a room that is too large, or listen to it at ridiculously loud levels. Unfortunately, the literature enclosed with the speakers is a bit confusing regarding the exact setup of the subwoofer crossover, which could lead to installation struggles for those who will set up their Take 5.2’s themselves.

Energy has made the right improvements to the Take 5.2 to make it possible for this system to sell like hotcakes for another four years. The system’s tonal balance, presence and accuracy are among the best in to be found in speakers in this class. The seamless matching and dynamic presentation provided by the 2.2’s, the 1.2 and the S8.2 is a very engaging package for music, and especially for movies. I don’t think you could spend $900 more wisely than on the Energy Take 5.2. If you have a small budget and a small room, the Energy Take 5.2 will not disappoint you.
Manufacturer Energy Speakers
Model Take 5.2 Home Theater Speaker System
Reviewer Tim Hart

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