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Product Review
 

Infinity TSS-750 Compact Surround Sound Speaker Package (HTIB)

October, 2004

Adrian Wittenberg

 

Specifications:

Satellite


● Two Way, 3/4" Tweeter, 3 ½” Midrange
● Recommended Power: 10 – 100 watts
● MFR: 120 Hz – 20 kHz
± 3 dB
● Sensitivity: 88 dB
● Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
● Dimensions 6" x 4-1/8" x 4-3/8"
● Weight: 2.8 Pounds Each
 

Center Channel

● D’Appolito, Dual 3 ½” mid driver, ¾” tweeter
● Recommended Power: 10 – 125 watts
● MFR: 120 Hz – 20 kHz
● Sensitivity: 89 dB
● Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
● Dimensions 4-1/8" x 9-1/4" x 4-3/8"
● Weight: 4.5 Pounds
 

Subwoofer

● 10” Ported Design
● MFR: 34 Hz – 150 Hz
● Amplifier Power Output: 150 watts RMS
● Variable Crossover: 50 Hz - 150 Hz
● Dimensions: 16-3/4" x 10-3/4" x 15-3/4"
● Weight: 28 Pounds

MSRP: $750 USA

 

Infinity Systems


www.infinitysystems.com

Introduction

There are a couple of predominant ideas to buying a set of 5.1 surround sound speakers packaged together. For one, they eliminate the task of finding speakers that are going to work well together in a surround sound setting. This is not so much a chore as a passion to many. However, there still exists the surround sound-less individual who is more geared towards getting home and getting his Jurassic Park on, then spending the time either on-line or in the store choosing speakers that are going to work well together.

The speakers in these packages also tend to be more compact then your full-blown speaker set up, which often can dominate the look of a room. Thus, there are many manufacturers that offer packaged solutions - more commonly known as Home Theater in a Box, or HTIB - and this trend seems to be responsible for getting more and more of the mass public involved in the enjoyment of surround sound entertainment.

The subject of this review is to see if Infinity’s new TSS-750 5.1 surround sound package utilizing their new speaker cone technology offers a quality sonic experience, differentiating itself in this category of speaker packages, which often are barely adequate.

The Design

The TSS-750 is little brother to the TSS-1100, which has a bigger, more powerful subwoofer (12”, 250 watts RMS), and big brother to the TSS-450 which uses smaller (2.5”) mid-drivers in its center and satellite speakers, and has a smaller, less powerful sub (8”, 100 watts RMS).

The TSS-750 5.1 package includes four satellites, a center channel speaker, and a subwoofer. The package also includes mounting hooks for the satellites, a center channel stand, standard speaker wire, and a subwoofer RCA/RCA cable.

All of the speakers in this package utilize Infinity’s new metal matrix design. In a nutshell, the more inflexible a speaker cone material is, the higher the breakup frequency of the cone will be. A metal speaker cone’s breakup point is very high in pitch, but it is audible as "ringing", like a bell. By using a combination of materials in a hybrid design, additional damping of this ringing can be achieved to varying degrees.

The TSS-750 satellites are a two-way design consisting of a 3.5” mid-driver and a ¾” tweeter. The center speaker is of the D’Appolito configuration, featuring the tweeter sandwiched dead center between the two mid-drivers. The satellites and center speakers are rated at 88 dB and 89 dB sensitivity respectively, and the crossover between the mid-drivers and the tweeters is at 3.5 kHz. Both the satellites and the center speaker are housed in a curved, tapered aluminum enclosure that has an attractive brushed finish. Gold-plated binding posts are nestled in a cutaway in the back of these speakers, and are a nice addition especially for this category.

Because of the curved taper of the center channel speaker, a small plastic stand is included, which provides the advantage of being able to angle the center speaker either up or down based on its position relative to your display.

The subwoofer included in the package has 150 watts RMS of power and features a 10” driver housed in a ported enclosure. On the back of the sub are right and left line level inputs, a volume control, a crossover knob adjustable from 50 Hz to 150 Hz, a switch to choose between having your signal processor or the subwoofer handle bass management with its own crossover, and a phase switch that toggles between 180 degrees and 0 degrees. Some of these features, such as the phase switch, are unusual at this price point.

I also received satellite speaker stands for making room placement easy. They are hollow which allows you to run the speaker wires up through them, providing for a very neat and tidy installation. I found the stands' bases to be very heavy, so I had little worry that I’d ever knock them over accidentally. The speakers and stands that I received were platinum in color but are also available in charcoal. Overall the TSS 750 speakers and stands are very attractive and have a sleek, modern look that would work well with contemporary furniture and decor.

The Setup

One of the problems of compact speakers having small mid-drivers is that they fall a bit short of producing a full robust mid-bass. This is obviously a design tradeoff, and if you want more mid-bass, then choose one of Infinity's other models that have larger mid-drivers.

With that being said, these speakers require a good blending with the subwoofer. I found that there was a bit of a dip in the satellites and center speaker’s mid-bass range from 130 Hz to 160 Hz. I tried moving the satellites further from the wall to avoid mid-bass cancellation which improved the response a little. By placing the subwoofer at the front of the room near my display and adjusting the crossover very high (150 Hz), I was able to smooth out the response and achieve a good blend with the rest of the system.

As for the phase switch, it was left it in the 00 position. The subwoofer was effective down to about 34 Hz where it started to roll off (this matches up exactly with the specifications listed in the manual). Placing the front speakers about eight feet apart from each other and placing the surround satellites to the side and slightly behind the listening position worked very well for imaging and surround effects. In general, this system works well in smaller rooms and requires average amounts of power from a mid-grade receiver.

The Listening

I tested this system using a Yamaha 5760 receiver, a Panasonic CP-72 DVD player, and a host of other audio sources such as an Xbox, and a PC computer using a Sound Blaster Audigy ZS platinum sound card. I used the speaker and subwoofer cables that came with the TSS 750, and all other interconnects used were also generic. My listening room is treated with both acoustic paneling and bass traps.

These speakers do sound nice. For instance, with Diana Krall’s DTS release of Love Scenes, Russell Malone’s subtle guitar plucks were easily distinguished from Christian Mcbride’s smooth laid back walking bass lines. Diana’s voice sounded natural and soothing, and I could hear the air surrounding her punctual consonants, a tribute to the detail these speakers present. The subwoofer laid down Christian McBride’s artful bass work with no problems, always ending the notes when he did, and never overstating the instrument.

If you want to hear an emotional classical piece for piano and orchestra, check out Artur Rubinstein’s performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (RCA). There is a powerful blend of charged piano virtuoso and sweeping full-bodied strings. The speakers responded better than I expected to this difficult piano material. They were able to articulate Rubenstein’s trills and piano runs while projecting a tone that was not sharp or overly punchy. The orchestra material came across well, and the line between the satellites and subwoofer effectively disappeared. This is not the best of recordings and the speakers handled it well.

Sting seems like someone who has managed to travel all over the world and acquire some weird instruments, which he consequently uses on all his new albums. It certainly makes for good test material, as it covers every frequency range that I would consider important. On his new album, Sacred Love, we have a conglomeration of instruments from tabla to flamenco guitar, and there is a lot of voicing going on at once. Once again, the TSS 750 covered all of the details exceptionally well. On the other hand, some of the punch of the music was lost, as there is a considerable amount of information in the mid-bass region on this album.

Movie Material

I used newer titles like Hellboy and Day After Tomorrow to test the surround sound performance of the TSS-750 system. The fast response time of these speakers combined with their low distortion presented action scenes that kept me at the edge of my seat. The center channel’s dialogue was especially clear, natural and crisp, with not many indications of any sibilance problems. The subwoofer could deliver when needed, and did a very good job of not pedaling out single note bass.

At the Arcade

Being that I enjoy computer and video game entertainment, I also found this package to do a fantastic job with both my Xbox and computer system. Most of the newer games, such as Need for Speed Underground for the Xbox and Doom 3 for the PC were created with a surround sound system in mind. Doom 3’s overly spooky sound effects and weapon noises came into full effect into my room, as I bashed and mashed away at my keyboard, confronting armies of the undead. Need for Speed Underground on the Xbox played in Dolby surround, and with these speakers, I could actually pick out the car noises from the trendy background music.

Conclusions

For the price, the TSS-750 package serves as a good investment for all your entertainment needs. The extra subwoofer features, the attractive appearance, and the attention to presenting sonic fidelity which is not distorted or colored puts the Infinity TSS-750 5.1 sound system into leader board position in this category of speaker packages. I never heard any problems with ringing, and that is impressive giving the amount of detail these present in the upper range. I would surmise that certainly a larger system would fill out the mid-bass details, but then it would also not be as compact and room decor friendly. I would especially recommend these to someone who is looking for an affordable system to fit into a small office or recreation room, and also who appreciates the softer side of listening, and the finer details of music.

- Adrian Wittenberg -

Associated Equipment:

Yamaha 5760 Receiver
Panasonic CP-72 DVD Player
Xbox
PC equipped with a Sound Blaster Audigy ZS
Real Traps Bass Traps
Sonex and Auralex Acoustic Paneling

    Related to the article above, we recommend the following:

Primer - Speakers

 

 

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