Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Aperion Audio Intimus 6T-DB Hybrid XD 5.1 Speaker System

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

To get a feel for how the speakers sounded, I began by listening to some two channel music. Listening to the recent release from Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch), the speakers began to come alive with much larger dynamics and a terrific vertical soundstage, and I had to check to make sure that my receiver hadn’t switched to a virtual surround mode, as the soundstage was so wide it seemed to be coming from both sides. The Aperions offered a far smoother high end than my current speakers, not causing me the fatigue that I sometimes can suffer from when listening to this album.

Moving onto more of my favorite albums, I threw on OK Computer from Radiohead. Recorded inside an estate in England, the band would change rooms they were recording in to get a different feel for the sound to fit the music. On Karma Police, as Thom’s singing grows more desperate at the end, for the first time I could hear him move from being close to the microphone in a typical studio environment, to being in a large open space, adding extra depth to his voice and the feeling of being helpless. I had easily heard the song a hundred times before, but the Aperions were revealing details to me that I hadn’t heard before, and adding even more emotional depth to the music.

Since I had a full 5.1 system, it was time to give a listen to some multichannel SACD and DVD-Audio discs. Listening to the surround mix of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon SACD, I was enveloped in a way that I had not been before. Sounds moved seamlessly from left to right, or front to back, without the typical jump between speakers that I would hear. The front soundstage was as wide and high as I have heard it, while the subwoofer provided tight, clear bass that effortlessly blending in with the rest of the speakers. Perhaps the Aperions were more clearly demonstrating to me the sonic advantage of SACD over Red Book CD, but as soon as I started listening I didn’t want to stop.

On The Beatles Love DVD-A, I heard a clarity on those Beatles songs that I have never heard before. Having been to shows by Cirque du Soleil before (though unfortunately not to the Love performance) and knowing how aggressive they could be with their surround mixes, these speakers brought that feeling home on the album. Some sounds were anchored to the center channel far more than they were on Dark Side of the Moon, but I believe that was due to the mix on the disc and not the speakers themselves. I was worried about having dipole speakers as I had not liked the sound from the previous set of dipoles that I owned, but these created such a seamless environment that I was never tempted to replace them with a standard pair of bookshelf speakers.

Aperion Audio Intimus 6T-DB Hybrid XD

Perhaps the most surprising revelation in listening was just watching football on a Sunday. The sounds that were picked up by the on field microphones came through with far more clarity than I had heard before, which I was not expecting at all. The sound of a player hitting their helmet to signal an audible came though perfectly instead of blending into the background, and at one point my wife even yelled from another room asking what sound I was making after a referee blew his whistle. The Aperions made the sounds come alive in a way they hadn’t in my living room before.

One of the movies I really enjoyed earlier this year was Iron Man, and the Blu-Ray disc has a TrueHD track on it that’s designed to give your home theater a real workout. The soundtrack was very aggressive throughout the movie, and the Aperion setup felt seamless, with sounds moving around you instead of just from speaker to speaker. The more that I listened to the speakers in dipole mode, the more I enjoyed the way they created a much larger side soundstage and made me wish I had a second pair for a full 7.1 setup behind me as well. The only aspect where I felt the setup was lacking was the lack of thump from the subwoofer in heavy action scenes. While it did a great job of filling in the lower octaves for the other speakers, it didn’t provide that truly deep bass that you can feel in addition to hear.