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Crystal Acoustics THX3D-12 THX Select Speaker System

Part I

August, 2006

Ross Jones

 

Specifications:

THX-T3 Floor-standing

● 3-1/2-Way, Dual Ported
● Drivers: One 1" Dome Tweeter, Three 6.5" Mid/Woofers
● MFR: 35 Hz - 22 kHz
● Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohms

THX-Center

● 2-Way, Dual Ported
● Drivers: One 1" Dome Tweeter, One 6.5" Mid/Woofers
● MFR: 45 Hz - 22 kHz
● Nominal Impedance: 4 Ohms

THX-Dipole Surround

● 2-Way, Ported
● Drivers: Two 1" Silk Dome Tweeters, One 6.5: Mid/Woofer
● MFR: 45 Hz - 22 kHz
● Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms

THX-12Sub

● Dual Ported
● Driver: One 12"
● Amplifier: 200 Watts
● MFR: 20 Hz - 350 Hz

System Price: $1,799 Silver; $2,799 Piano Black, USA

Crystal Acoustics

www.crystalaudiovideo.com

Introduction

The THX logo, long familiar to moviegoers and now commonplace on the faceplate of receivers, is still rarely seen on home theater speakers. While several established manufacturers produce THX home theater systems, Crystal Acoustics is the new kid on the block. Formed in 1998 by Greek engineer Visilis "Bill" Tsakiris, Crystal Acoustics is a British-based OEM manufacturer of THX speakers.

Beginning in 2005, Crystal began offering THX-certified home theater systems to the North American market. With its own manufacturing factory in China, Crystal Acoustics offers the THX3D-12 system at a price of $1,999; but as of press-time, the THX3D-12 is available factory direct (in silver finish) for $1,799.

Can you really turn your listening room into a THX theater for less than $2,000? Let's find out.

The Design

The THX 3D-12 system consists of floor-standing L/R speakers, a two-way center channel speaker, dipole surround speakers, and a powered subwoofer with a 12-inch driver. The system is THX Select Certified.

The three front speakers share the same drivers, a 1" neodymium tweeter mounted on top of the speaker on a free-standing swiveling post, and 6.5-inch fiberglass/Kevlar mid/woofers. In fact, the combination of the Crystal Acoustics' yellow woofers with bullet-cone plugs, dimpled ports, and the top-mounted tweeters, gave the speakers more than a passing resemblance to my reference B & W speakers.

The THX-T3 speakers are 3 -way designs, with three 6.5" woofers, the top-mounted tweeter, and two front ports. A rap of the knuckles to the side of the THX T-3 front speakers produced a fairly hollow "thunk" (evidence of minimal internal bracing), an obvious cost/benefit choice given the system's overall price and performance.

The THX T-3s have the narrow profile common to THX Certified speakers (ostensibly to enhance wide horizontal dispersion). The THX-Center uses a single 6.5" woofer and tweeter in the preferred vertical alignment, which avoids diffraction effects for listeners sitting off to the side. The front speakers (T-3s and Center) have two sets of gold-plated binding posts for bi-wiring. Note that the front speakers are all nominally rated at 4 ohms, so the THX 3D-12 system should only be used with receivers that can handle a 4 ohm load.

The THX-Dipole uses the same woofer as the front speakers, along with two 1" silk dome tweeters wired out-of-phase on the side panels.

The THX-12Sub uses a front-firing, 12" long-throw woofer, mated to an internal 200 watt amplifier. The back panel of the subwoofer contains a line-level (but not speaker level) input, volume knob, phase, and a two-way toggle for volume control (THX or variable-which allows you to adjust gain using the subwoofer's volume knob). There are also two large ports on the rear of the enclosure.

Set-up

I experimented with setting up the front L/R speakers in a variety of orientations, the optimal placement appearing to be with the cabinets slightly toed-in, but with the swivel-mounted tweeters oriented straight ahead rather than matching the toed-in pitch of the cabinets. The dipole surrounds were mounted on stands against the side walls, above and behind the listening position (per THX recommendations), and the THX-12Sub took up the usual position in the front corner of the listening room.

After calibrating speaker levels using the automatic set-up microphone of my Integra DTR 7.6 THX-Select receiver, the crossovers were all set to 80 Hz (again per THX specs). The grilles were left off of the front speakers during the review period (I could not detect any obvious tonal differences with the speaker grilles on or off, but the SAF preferred the grille-off look).

Click Here to Go to Part II.

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