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Energy Take 5 Home Theater Speaker System Print E-mail
Monday, 01 September 1997
Image There was a time not long ago that $800 got you an O.K. sounding pair of speakers, maybe. Never mind five excellent sounding speakers and a subwoofer, this was never even an option. Until now. Brought to you by the people at Energy, the Take 5 Home Theater Speaker System is a compact, beautifully engineered, great-sounding speaker system that can literally fit into a small suitcase. With their correct timbre and tonal balance, treble detail and integration, and impossible-for-their-size dynamics; the Take 5 with the ES-8 subwoofer redefines what you can expect from a speaker system at this price point.

Listening and Viewing Tests
When I first laid eyes on the Take 5 system, I found them visually striking, but based on my previous experience with micro sized speakers, I braced myself for a squawky, screechy, earbleed-inducing presentation. What followed really surprised me. No squawk, no screech no hemorrhaging. What struck me first was a smooth, warm balance that invited me to listen with ease. The vocal timbre (such as Aaron Neville's on "Louisiana" from his Warm Your Heart album) was so good I just couldn't believe it. The vocal mechanics were clearly audible with out any unnatural sibilance or chesty bloat that can result from trying to tweak some sense of treble detail or tonal body from a speaker this small and inexpensive. Along with the smooth texture of Aaron's voice, the Take 5 presented a reasonably believable soundstage. Aaron, front and center was nicely surrounded by a synthetic yet appealing acoustic. That said, the Take 5 is a very small speaker and cannot be expected to cast a sound stage which will compete in width or depth with larger more expensive speakers. Though ultimate soundstage proportions may not be the Take 5's strength, they do cast free from the speaker image that larger models can struggle to achieve. This outstanding characteristic was apparent on all types of music as well as movie soundtracks.

Speaking of movie soundtracks, the Take 5 system was capable of reproducing the essential dynamic range that made my favorite action and adventure flicks like `Crimson Tide' (Universal) and `Star Trek Generations' (Paramount) a blast. In Generation's opening scene, an inaugural champagne bottle tumbles through space towards the Enterprise B. Upon impact, there is a shuddering mid to low bass transient coupled with an orchestral crescendo driving home the drama of the moment. With lesser systems, this scene can come off muddled, compressed and confused. Through the Take 5, dynamics breath, timbres are correct and the bass from the ES-8 subwoofer rumbles with into the upper 30 Hz range with impressive authority.
In chapter 9 of `Crimson Tide,' a ferocious fire breaks out in the galley of the Alabama creating havoc amongst the crew. This visual mayhem is backed up by a flurry of sonic activity. Flashing back and forth between the ranging inferno and the scurrying crew, the Take 5 remained cool, calm and collected. Panicked voices, urgent orchestral scoring and the climactic explosion was presented with a satisfying amount of detail and showed very little sign of strain or dynamic compression. Since the front and rear channels are identical, all this surround performance was twice the fun. What a hoot to look up from all this calamity to see these little half pints just begging for more.

The Downside
The Take 5's are not going to re-write the laws of physics. This is a small scale system designed for a small-to-medium sized room. No matter what, they will not give you the presence of a larger rig with larger woofers, moving more air. The other problem I had was with the center channel speaker. While it was as dynamically capable as its brothers, I noted a slightly closed in quality that gave voices a muted rolled off coloration that was absent in the left and right channels.

The Take 5 plus the ES-8 subwoofer is the ideal package for the music and video buff with tight budget and a taste for high end sound. The fit and finish of the Take 5 is outstanding. The high gloss finish is super cool, looking far more expensive than they are and made living with them a joy. I really dig this speaker package and highly recommend it for both its performance and price.

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