Infinity TSS-750 Series 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Matt Evert   
Sunday, 01 August 2004

Introduction
Chances are that you already are familiar with the Infinity brand of loudspeakers. If you opted for the premium sound system in your new car or went shopping at Circuit City recently, you probably saw something bearing the long-standing and well-respected name of Infinity. What younger readers may not know is that this familiar brand has been around since 1968 and is owned by Harman International Industries. Harman is to home electronics as Ford Motor Co. is to automobiles. Harman makes anything from moderately-priced JBL speakers to $20,000 per pair Revel Salons. In years gone by, Infinity was considered as one of the top audiophile grade speakers money could buy. Now their market position is a little different, having more focus on getting Harman’s vast technological resources to clients at more affordable prices. The TSS-750 Home Cinema Series speakers do just that as a complete 5.1 home theater speaker system priced at $749.

The TSS-750 speaker system includes everything you need to bring life your home theater, including style, performance and affordability. The system includes four satellite speakers, a powered subwoofer and a center channel speaker. Also included are handy wall mounts for the four satellite speakers, a television top mount for the center channel speaker and enough cabling for all the speakers. It essentially is a Betty Crocker version of home theater. All you need to do is add a dash of a receiver and sprinkle in a DVD player and bake (play).

There is no question but that these speakers are physically attractive. Charcoal is nice, but their platinum finish is downright godly. They are nicely polished and look like the something out of a “Terminator” movie. The four satellites and the center speakers are made of extruded aluminum that is tastefully brushed to give them the polished look. The non-removable grilles protect the drivers from my cat and any casual drops to the carpet while installing th
e system. The speakers are sturdy and I am sure would make great weapons if one were so inclined. The satellites only weigh two-and-four-fifths pounds each, but they actually feel heavy. They are diminutive in size at six inches tall by four-and-one-eighth inches wide by four-and-three-eighths inches deep.

The center channel, like the other included speakers, features both three-and-half-inch drivers for midrange and the three-quarter-inch tweeters. The center sports two midrange drivers vs. a single driver on each of the satellites. The center stands fo
ur-and-one-eighths inches tall, stretches nine-and-one-quarter inches wide and four-and-three-eighths inches deep. The drivers used in the center, satellites and the subwoofer are made using Infinity’s own Metal Matrix Diaphragm (MMD) technology. This technology uses a dual-sided anodized aluminum core to improve the sonic accuracy and performance of the driver cones. According to Infinity, this low mass yet rigid driver yields a smoother, more responsive and less distorted sound. Again, this MMD technology is made possible in this price range due to Infinity’s economies of scale with numerous other lines of speakers (and by parent company Harman).

The subwoofer features a side-firing ten-inch driver contained in a wood cabinet. The cabinet is physically sturdy and pretty hefty at 28 lbs. (thanks in part to a 150-watt internal amplifier). A stylish groove is shaped out of the normally boxy appearance of other subwoofers. The sub stands 16-and-three-quarter inches high, 10-and-three-quarter inches wide and 15-and-three-quarter inches deep. A plastic port is located in the rear of the sub, along with most of the sub’s controls. An aluminum grate cover protects the driver from accidental kicks from break-dancing moves or stray vacuum cleaners. A two-color power on LED is located in the front groove of the cabinet: red is for standby and green is for power on.

The satellites and center channel have a reported frequency range of 120Hz to 20KHz and operate at eight ohms impedance. The crossover between the tweeter and midrange driver is set at 3.5kHz. The center’s power range is 10 to 125 watts and the satellites are 10 to 100 watts. The sub possesses a 150-watt RMS (500 watts peak) internal amplifier that will handle the low signals from 34Hz to 150Hz. An adjustable crossover can be set from 50Hz to 150Hz.

Set-up
Mounted on the included stand, the center fit nicely on the narrow top of my 32 inch Toshiba CRT. Most other center channels I have used are too big (in depth) for the top of my TV and require a shelf or larger wooden platform in order to not slide off. The four-and-a-half-pound center channel does sit a little higher than my desired listening position when mounted on top of my TV. This is easily corrected by rotating the center speaker downwards in its cradle. The center and satellites feature gold-plated posts that can accept bare wire, spade, or angled pins. The tops of the posts are sealed shut preventing the use of banana plugs. Since most people will probably use the bare wire ends of the provided 18-gauge cable, this should not be a big concern.

The drivers on the center and the satellites are magnetically shielded, so they will not interfere with your video displays and adversely alter the image quality. The sub set-up takes a line-level sub output from the receiver and the 150-watt internal amp does the rest. There is a switch on the sub that allows you to toggle the internal amp to different modes, depending on whether your receiver has a Dolby Digital processor with a Low Frequency Effects output (LFE) or not. If you do use the receiver’s crossover, you would be well advised to set it at 120Hz, since that is the lower limit of the satellites/center and near the upper limit of the subwoofer. You should also set your center, fronts and surrounds to the small speaker setting on your receiver. This is because you have a subwoofer present and would prefer to have your low frequencies sent there instead.

Be aware that when playing Compact Discs, you may not hear much out of the subwoofer (the center and surrounds, too), since you will be operating in two-channel mode. This will result in some major low frequencies dropping out of your music. You can correct this on most receivers by running in an all-channel stereo mode (or input) on your receiver. This should bring life back to your music when not listening to movies or multi-channel music (i.e., DVD-Audio discs). The Harman Kardon AVR630 that I tested these speakers with has a mode called seven-channel stereo that will take just about any source media and decode it into however many speakers you have connected. I guess the Harman Kardon people talked to the Infinity people on this one.

I did not try the wall mounts for the surround or front speakers, since I have too many holes in my home theater room as it is. I did inspect how they were to mount and played with them enough that I noticed some cool options. The speakers can actually swivel on the mounts so that you can make slight adjustments to their toe-in without drilling more holes. You will need some wood screws if you plan on using them (okay, so not everything is included).

Music
As I mentioned earlier, I demoed the Infinities with the modestly priced yet powerful Harman Kardon AVR630 receiver. I used the Marantz DV8400 as the source player and the Polk Audio LSi Series speakers as a reference. The editor of Audio Revolution, Bryan Southard, loves the music of Shawn Mullins and he has gotten me hooked on Mullins’ tunes as well. The Soul’s Core (Sony Music) album’s first track, “Anchored in You,” is one of my favorites. Mullins’ amazing voice goes from raspy deep tones to high notes (i.e., some long “whoooo” sounds that he makes) as the song progresses. This dynamic range is captured well by the Infinity set-up. The articulate strumming of the guitar towards the beginning of the song is sweet and nicely detailed. The snare drums snap pleasantly and the low frequencies around the bass are well recreated. I found that relative to the Polks, some midrange and low frequencies are missing from the audio spectrum. The lower midrange (Mullins’ raspy talking, heard frequently throughout the song) is not as prominent and forward in presentation as with the Polks. The guitars are not as lively and seem to be lacking some depth in the sound field. This is likely due to the larger midrange drivers and the presence of eight-inch woofers on the main Polk speakers. One also has to keep in mind that the Polks are several thousand dollars more expensive.

I found myself turning up the volume to higher levels with the Infinities to keep up with the Polks. Again, the speakers have very different efficiencies and sensitivities so this would be expected. Fortunately for the Infinities, they are able to handle loud volumes very well. On “Lullaby,” I cranked up the volume to 75 percent and the Infinities hung in there without noticeable distortion or sonic flaws. Even more important, my ears did not feel fatigued at the higher volumes with these speakers. Granted, with the higher volumes, I did have to turn down the subwoofer volume to about 70 percent to keep it from sounding like a low-rider straight out of Compton. This made the bass performance less boomy and I felt the power in my chest while not rattling the windows. The tambourines on this track were not grainy or colored, so high frequencies were well recreated by the TSS-750 speaker system.

I was guilty of being a pop music snob and throwing Justin Timberlake into the same category as Britney Spears and Debbie Gibson (for those of you old enough to remember her). Then I heard the well-recorded Justified album (Jive) and disassociated it from the rest of that crowd of bubble gum pop. “Senorita” does not disappoint with its low frequency rhythmic beats and its frequent snaps and claps from the background singers (or a synthesizer). Justin’s high-pitched choirboy singing voice was made popular first by the king of pop himself, Michael Jackson. Justin has developed his own style, but it is clear where his influences stemmed from. Justin’s voice was sweet, as with other higher midrange and high frequencies reproduced on the Infinities. Again, the lower midrange sounded like the background singer’s voices and the claps were not as present as with the Polks, but still musically satisfying to my ears.

“What You Got for Me” was full of bass drums and an almost wooden-sounding drum. There was a faster pace to the drum sounds in this song and the Infinities were able to keep up nicely. I also noticed that the bass was not overly punchy, which I like. A flute playing an almost belly dancer melody sounded lush and soothing to my ears. I liked the use of what sounded like old-school videogame sounds; more on my fascination with arcade games in the “Tron” part of the review.

Movies
Speaking of “Tron” (Disney Home Entertainment), what a great movie, so far ahead of its time. I saw it a million years ago at the theater and then forgot about it. I thought “The Matrix” was one of most original film ideas ever. Then I saw “Tron” again on DVD. “Matrix” leveraged so much from “Tron” that now “Matrix” seems not all that innovative with its whole concept of the defining a relationship between religion and technology and computers taking over the whole world, etc. “Tron” was there first and “The Matrix” did not have a soundtrack by Journey. The computer sounds of Pong and Pac-Man feel like they are coming from everywhere during the arcade scene at Flynn’s. Heck, even the keyboards sounded authentic with the old-school popcorn popping like sound they used to make. Dillinger’s helicopter could be heard moving from left to right on the screen, giving the listener the 3-D audio effect even on this dated film. The roar of the bass as Flynn hacks open the factory door was impressive; my whole couch shook and scared my cat. Well, a pin drop scares my cat, so I guess that is not that much of a feat.

“Grosse Pointe Blank” (Buena Vista Home Entertainment) is another example of good moviemaking. John Cusack is cast perfectly for this movie. One of its more memorable moments is when the assassin tries to gun down Cusack’s character Martin at the Ultimart. The store attendant is listening to death metal on his Walkman as he plays Doom on the arcade game while ironically there is a real gunfight going on in the store at the same time. Uzi shells sprinkle the floor and the subtle noises of things like the cardboard boxes of food breaking apart as bullets riddle them fill the system. The shattering of the glass refrigerators behind Martin and the exploding and fizzing of the beers cans was stunning. I really felt immersed in the violence as the sounds effects surrounded the room.

“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (Warner Bros.) was yet another chapter of the Arnold Schwarzenegger saga of the famous sci-fi “Terminator” franchise. I loved the first “Terminator” and the second one was great except for the whiny kid they cast as the young John Connor. “T3” was devoid of plot and I just basically gave up on it except for the killer special effects. The truck chase scene where the T-X Terminator drives the crane truck through buildings, cars, and pretty much anything you can think of was tops. The crunching sound of the telephone poles as they were knocked over by the boom of the crane was convincing as depicted by the TSS-750s. Even the little children’s playhouse made a cool honk like a clown’s nose as the adult John Connor (Nick Stahl) rammed his truck into it. The concept of four police cars and ambulances being remote controlled was a little bit of a stretch, but so is most of the movie. If you like explosions and guns, this movie is for you.

The Downside
I think all the center/satellite speakers should have better rubber feet on them. Infinity provides very small plastic and rubber feet, but it doesn't cover the whole surface. So, when the speaker is vibrating, it still could scratch the surface of whatever it's resting on. Infinity does provide wall mounts, but better feet would make the package more complete.

Also, I really felt that Infinity should have color-coded and labeled the cables more clearly. If the target market for these speakers is truly the novice setting up an entry to mid-level home theater system, I think they could have done a little more to make the process easier. As weird as this may sound, I would have removed some of the controls on the back of the subwoofer to prevent further confusion to newbies (like the phase control, the LFE switch and the two subwoofer inputs). Better yet would be to trickle down some of Revel’s sub set-up software for the subwoofer so even novice consumers can get the kind of set-up they would expect from a $3,000 Revel B15 subwoofer.

Comparison
As I stated earlier, I tested these speakers against the Polk LSi series speakers. There were obvious differences in the two speaker systems’ construction (and price), so I added some other systems that are more closely priced to compare. Polk makes a $600 RM6700TNM five-piece Home Theater Speaker System and Bose makes a $700 Acoustimass 6 Series III system. Polk uses slightly smaller midrange drivers on all the speakers and an eight-inch driver on the sub. The speaker enclosures use Polk’s vented power port technology and a Dynamic Balance Polymer composite cone instead of Infinity’s MMD. Polk claims the result of this is a reduction of the gap between low-midrange to the higher low frequencies of the sub. The frequency range is slightly better at 28-24kHz and the speakers are little more efficient at 90dB. Polk uses the more versatile five-way binding posts, but does not include the wall mounts or the cabling as the TSS-750 does. There was not a lot of information (the Bose web site has no technical information on it) about the Bose system, but it uses the same number of speakers and has satellites only three inches high for those of you who want this speaker system to be almost invisible in your room. The cables are provided with this system, as with the TSS-750.

Conclusion
The Infinity TSS-750 is a great-sounding bargain for those wanting a home theater system with a small footprint and all the cables/mounts included. You get some excellent technology with the MMD drivers and the speakers can handle the juice when asked to do so. The performance of these speakers was more than acceptable for similar speakers in this price class. One may want to consider shopping for all-inclusive systems (home theater-in-a-box) that includes not only the speakers but also a DVD player with built-in receiver. Onyko, Panasonic, Bose, and Sony all make systems like this at this price range. It is vital to remember that these aforementioned speakers will not sound as good as the Infinities, but they do offer a complete system, including the electronics that you will need. If your budget allows you to spend $700 on speakers and have another couple hundred dollars for electronics, then I would recommend going the Infinity route instead. Skimping on good speakers is never a great idea when you have heard Infinities bring life to your movie-watching experience.
Manufacturer Infinity
Model TSS-750 Series
Reviewer Matthew Evert





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