Manufacturer: Reel Acoustics,
This system from a relatively new Canadian manufacturer combines value and performance in a very special way. Stylish in a contoured cabinet, the four satellites (6 1/2″H x 5″D x 4″W) are very small and attractive in silver or black, and the centre channel is almost identical except for its 10″ width to accommodate an additional 3 1/2″ woofer/midrange. The tweeter is a 3/4″ soft dome that is slightly recessed with an anti-diffraction plate around it to optimize imaging. Mind you, there wouldn’t be all that much diffraction off a baffle this small.
All have recessed 5-way binding posts that are gold plated, unusual in such inexpensive speakers. However, I discovered that the banana slots are just a little too small to accept standard bananas. Otherwise, the build quality is exceptional for the price. Our review samples came in silver, which is actually closer to a light grey. They are designed in Canada and built in China, which accounts for the modest price.
The subwoofer, which measures 13″H x 11″W x 13 1/2″D, uses an 8″ driver and is ported on the front. Its amp is rated at at 75 watts rms. It has dual spring-load inputs, but only one RCA line input, though it also offers an RCA line output so that another subwoofer can be added, a good feature. I’ve run my subwoofers in my audio and HT systems in pairs for years. There’s a good reason for this. A single sub, no matter where you put it, will likely exhibit uneven response through its range exciting room modes at some frequencies, and having dropouts at others. This is especially true with corner placement.
With a pair of subs you can get them out of the corners, and radiate much more balanced bass into the room. The placement of the subs becomes much less critical, and bass power improves as well as response becoming smoother. And that’s my little rant on subs. Looking at the measurements, we see very smooth response from the satellites, plus or minus about 2 dB over most of their range, with excellent top end extension, and low end response dropping off below 200 Hz. Dispersion is very good, the 15 and 30 degree curves closely matching that on axis. As can be seen, the subwoofer’s response closely dovetails with that of the satellites around 150 Hz, and though not going right to the bottom, holds up nicely to 40 Hz, down about 7 dB at 30. I did not measure it at any other than the highest and lowest crossover settings because it matched so well with the other speakers.
The centre channel, seen below the satellite/subwoofer curves, has a little more lower midrange energy from its extra woofer/midrange, but is also very flat, with a little less relative upper octave energy. Please note that the spikes at 10 kHz are a computer artifact that has nothing to do with the speaker, probably related to the monitor, this especially emphasized by the fact that the biggest one comes from the subwoofer, which could never produce energy at that frequency.
Sonically, these are very fine little speakers, supported by an excellent subwoofer, and I enjoyed listening to them. The sound is clear and dynamic, making the system sound much bigger than it physically is. The lack of coloration was notable, as indicated by the very smooth frequency response, and excellent subwoofer integration right out of the box. It’s also an excellent system for music, well engineered as it is for wide dispersion and tonal accuracy.
At the price, this system is extraordinary in its excellence and sheer value, as well as its ability to disappear visually and sonically. I think it’s the best compact home theatre system I’ve yet heard for under $1000. At $549 it’s a real steal.
Related Reviews:MJ Acoustics Reference 100 Subwoofer [AIG Archives]
AIG Back Issues: Fall 2005
AIG Back Issues: Almanac 2002
OX Box #4: Bob Oxley Delves Further Into The Aurum Integris System
OX Box #1: Bob Oxley with More Thoughts on the Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP
Comment On this Post
Outside the Speakers
Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
Audiophile Grade Mics?
CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
Some High End 'Phones from CES
Audio Ideas (Andrew Marshall)
Ox Box (Bob Oxley)
Hy End (Hy Sarick)
Bain's Blog (John Edward Bain)
Most Popular Today