Aperion Verus Grand Speaker System
Price: $3,994 At a Glance: Superior left-center-right uniformity Excellent imaging and depth Outstanding value
When Portland, Oregon–based Aperion Audio began selling speakers about 10 years ago, its business plan was simple: design the speakers here, build them where manufacturing costs are low (China—as with many of today’s speakers), and sell direct to buyers to avoid the middlemen—distributors and conventional dealers.
Aperion uses the Internet to reach customers quickly and directly, and the company appears to have succeeded here where earlier attempts floundered. Add a 30-day money-back guarantee (including shipping both ways in the contiguous U.S. and Canada), and they’ve neatly skirted the “no demo” disadvantage of buying speakers online.
The system under review consists of Aperion’s newest top-of-the-line models: The Verus Grand Tower, the Verus Grand Center, and the Verus Grand Bookshelf (for surrounds). Aperion included a Bravus II 12D subwoofer as a match for this system, but we didn’t review it. It will no longer be available by the time you read this, and its replacement, the Bravus IIa (which should be), was not available to us to either audition or measure in time for our deadline. Instead, I used a 15-inch model from Hsu Research for most of my auditions.
When you open up any shipment from Aperion, the quality of the packaging will immediately impress you. The Verus line is no exception. A velour bag protects each speaker against scratches. The accessories (which in the full system include a sound meter to set the system levels) are packed separately.
Apart from the subwoofer (available only in Gloss Black—a limitation which will continue with the new Bravus IIa), the main speakers come in either Gloss Black (pictured) or High-Gloss Medium Cherry. Our Cherry samples were gorgeous. While we haven’t seen all comers, I can’t think of another speaker in this price range with this finish quality. All of the speaker cabinets (the sub excluded) have gently curved sides, narrower in the back than at the front. The tops are curved as well—an elegant touch. But it can be a problem with the Grand Towers; you can’t turn them upside down to attach the (provided) feet and spikes. But you can install the feet while they’re in their partially opened shipping cartons, or lay the cabinets on their sides on a well-padded surface.
When I initially tightened the bolts for the Verus Grands’ feet, I was surprised to see the small threaded inserts that hold them easily strip out from where they were embedded in the cabinet’s MDF. Half of the eight inserts in our samples either loosened or came out entirely. I wasn’t alone, and shortly after I received my sample, Aperion made a running change in their production. All of the inserts are now installed from the inside of the cabinet and cannot pull out. All product shipping now has the change, so you shouldn’t have this problem.
The cabinets are internally braced and appear sturdy. The 65-pound weight of the Verus Grand Tower isn’t par- ticularly heavy for a speaker this size, but a knuckle-rap test of the cabinet produced a well-damped thunk with no obvious ringing.
All of the drivers in the system, apart from the tweeters (and the sub), have woven Kevlar cones. The midranges and the woofer in the Verus Grand Bookshelf employ true phase plugs at their centers rather than conventional dust caps. A proper phase plug is generally cone-shaped and attaches to the ferromagnetic pole piece (part of the driver’s motor) that runs through the center of the voice coil. It remains stationary. Such a phase plug can not only improve a speaker’s response (though there are many fine drivers that don’t use them), but also help dissipate heat buildup in the voice coil. Some dust caps look similar to phase plugs but are less functional since they instead attach to the cone and move with it.
The Verus Grand Tower employs two 5-inch midranges in a vertical, mid-tweeter-mid (D’Appolito) arrangement, plus two 6-inch woofers. The Verus Grand Center’s two 6-inch woofers flank a vertically positioned 4-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter. Such three-way centers generally (though not always) provide better horizontal off-axis performance than the more common (three-driver, two-way) woofer-tweeter-woofer designs.