Aperion Intimus 4T Summit Home Theater System Page 2
After tweaking the placement and toe-in of the speakers for best performance (although I did have to set the Bravus 8A SW out a little farther into the room than I would normally have done so it could be seen by the other speakers), I was pleasantly surprised that SpeakerFinder guesstimated the listening location and adjusted the system for exactly the seating position I had intended. In fact, pressing the MyZone button on the remote control made virtually no difference in sound at all.
Sitting in my normal spot, I was very impressed by the sound quality of two-channel audio. The subtle chirping of crickets during the beginning of Andrew Bird’s “Belles” (Break It Yourself) were spread wide across the front soundstage and then joined by the soft, soothing tones of chimes in the center of the image. The Intimus 4T SW towers were excellent at revealing the overtones present in the notes from the chimes without masking the crickets or being lost when other instruments were added into the mix. While the soundstage was also very wide, what stood out most on Barbra Streisand’s “What Matters Most” (What Matters Most) were the presence and smoothness of the low registers in Streisand’s vocals. The string accompaniment was also light and airy. The Bravus 8A SW subwoofer was an excellent, tight-sounding subwoofer that pairs exceptionally well with the Intimus 4T SW towers.
Movie soundtracks were equally engaging. In Immortals, when Hyperion rampages through Theseus’s village, the Bravus 8A SW subwoofer convincingly filled the room with tight (although not earthshaking) bass. Later, when the imprisoned Theseus speaks with the oracle, Phaedra, the lapping of the waves in the rear of the soundfield was almost mesmerizing. The Intimus 5C SW center’s blend with the Intimus 4T SW towers was seamless, and the 5C SW firmly and clearly anchored the system, especially in a dialogue-dependent movie such as The King’s Speech.
SpeakerFinder does a splendid job at setting system parameters darn close to perfect for the traditional sweet spot. The point of MyZone, on the other hand, is to compensate for when you’re sitting in other locations in the room, such as in a chair off to the side or on the floor closer to the TV. You can be basically anywhere in a room up to 30 x 30 feet—with one caveat. The remote control must be able to see all three front speakers. If you’re sitting so far off to one side that one speaker is physically blocked by another, the system will give an error message and won’t reconfigure until it receives a valid MyZone request.
MyZone works equally well with two-channel audio and multichannel sound. I spent a lot of time listening to the quintessential “The Girl from Ipanema” (Getz/Gilberto) using MyZone from a variety of spots within my room. The MyZone calibration was excellent at maintaining a wide soundstage with a clearly defined placement of saxophone and guitar, as well as Astrud Gilberto’s voice far to the right, when I sat in various listening positions ranging approximately +/–35 degrees off axis of the center between the two towers. When I used MyZone in positions farther and farther off to the sides, the relative placement of vocals and instruments across the soundstage was surprisingly consistent, but the soundstage itself gradually became more skewed with the side closest to me seeming to shrink while the far side grew larger. Although it wasn’t perfect, the fact that MyZone could still present a soundstage at all from a listening position just inches from one of the towers was amazing.
For movies, MyZone works with the front soundstage but also adjusts the delays and output levels of the surround speakers as it attempts to keep you enveloped by the surround soundfield. Because of the presence of the center channel and surround speakers, I was able to move across a much wider side-to-side swath with MyZone still managing to convincingly put me in or near the center of the action. During the village attack scene in Immortals, when I sat on the floor much closer to the screen and center channel than normal, MyZone dramatically decreased the output level of the center channel and boosted the surrounds. Likewise, if I stood several feet behind my couch, the opposite changes were made. Of course, the technology can’t work miracles; once I started getting within a foot or so of any particular speaker, although the soundfield remained identifiable, it was obvious that I was at the edge of the bubble of sound.
SpeakerFinder and MyZone can also help make the best of a bad situation in which you can’t or don’t want to put the speakers in their ideal locations—furniture, room layout, and aesthetic considerations have a way of spoiling things—by mapping where the speakers are in the room and tweaking the setup parameters for your particular seating location. I tried a variety of awful speaker arrangements, and in all but the most egregious cases, SpeakerFinder and MyZone were able to compensate to create at least acceptably coherent and stable stereo and multichannel sound-fields. It’s important to note, though, that the SpeakerFinder technology is designed to locate the speakers relative to each other and set levels, phase, and delays. It’s not a room acoustics correction technology, such as Audyssey’s MultEQ or Anthem’s ARC. So if you’re forced (or you choose for aesthetic reasons) to place a speaker, or more likely the sub-woofer, in a spot in your room where it has minimal bass output or otherwise sounds crappy, SpeakerFinder won’t make up for those acoustic deficiencies. It will, however, attempt to set up the system to provide the best stereo imaging and surround sound based on the speakers’ lamentable locations.
As much as I was impressed by the Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Summit system, I would like to see a few things changed. First, while the lack of an onscreen display does nothing to take away from the audio performance, it’s certainly annoying due to the small size of the display on the Home Theater One. There’s also no manual volume control on the front of the Home Theater One—or any controls at all. As a result, if you can’t find the remote, you can’t use the system. Neither does the Home Theater One offer any ability to adjust each source’s audio input levels. My Autonomic MMS-2 music server, for example, has more than twice the output level of my PS3. And since you have to use the included remote control for MyZone to work, it would be nice if it were a universal remote so you could operate your TV and other sources without having an additional remote control lying around. Because the MyZone transducer on the remote control needs to see the LCR speakers, the Home Theater One needs to be located where it can receive the MyZone IR command from the remote. There’s no input for an external IR receiver on the Home Theater One, so one workaround would be to use a remote repeater/blaster. Finally, if you forget to turn it off and leave the system on all night, the Home Theater One and the backs of the speakers can get very hot.
I purposely referred to the Intimus 4T Summit as an HTIB at the beginning of this review because it’s important to remember that this isn’t a $3,499 7.1 speaker package—it’s the equivalent of a $3,499 7.1 speaker setup, a basic AVR, plus a high-end multichannel wireless audio distribution system. And, as far as I know, there’s nothing else like it on the market—and certainly nothing that performs as well, sets up as easily, or is as flexible or adaptable. While there are some things I’d like to see different on the Home Theater One preamp transmitter, there’s no doubt that Aperion’s Intimus 4T Summit wireless system is a groundbreaking, absolutely astounding achievement. This is a system that sounds great, sets up almost as fast as you can unbox it, doesn’t require speaker wires, transmits up to eight channels of uncompressed digital audio, can recalibrate itself in as little as two seconds if you choose to change the layout of your room, and can follow you around the room and instantly change the sweet spot to wherever you sit down. Aperion has done a phenomenal job with the Intimus 4T Summit, and anyone who wants to have great sound as easily and conveniently as possible should definitely check it out.