If you're in the market for a powerful home theater speaker system and you're trying to avoid a Home Theater in a Box (HTIB) or soundbar-based rig, then Aperion Audio
should be very much on your speaker-buying radar. Portland, Oregon-based Aperion Audio generously allows you to audition their speakers for 30 days and provides free return shipping; if you're not happy (doubtful) send them back and you've paid zip. The direct-sale retail model for selling speakers isn't unique to Aperion
; however their service and value is.
I've been reading about Aperion for a couple of years now and everything I've seen has been overwhelmingly positive; so needless to say I was thrilled when the review samples arrived. The process of ordering from Aperion is a pleasant one, from the friendly and entertaining e-mail they send to let you know your new speakers are on their way, to the white-glove packaging of the speakers (more on that later).
• Aperion's Grand Versus Speakers - click here for more.
• Aperion debuts a wireless speaker system at CEDIA 2010.
The Aperion 5T-DB Hybrid HD 5.1 home theater speaker system consists of a pair of Intimus 5T towers ($990 per pair), a 5C center channel ($350), two 5DB dipole/bipole surround speakers ($690 per pair), and the Bravus 10D digital dual drive subwoofer ($799), all in beautiful high gloss black (they're also available in cherry). The package comes to a reasonable, relative to their performance, $2,829. The 5T towers measure thirty eight inches high by six inches wide by eight inches deep. The towers feature a one inch silk-dome tweeter and dual five and a quarter inch woven fiberglass composite woofers. The 5C center channel measures seven inches high by nineteen inches wide by eight inches deep and needs a decent sized mantle if you're putting it above your fireplace. It features the same one inch silk dome tweeter and dual five and a quarter inch woofers found in the 5T, with an additional four inch woofer located just under the tweeter. The 5DB surround speakers feature dual one inch silk dome tweeters and dual five and a quarter inch woofers. They measure eleven and three quarter inches high by ten and a half inches wide by seven and a half inches deep. Since they can operate in dipole or bipole mode, a switch is located under one of the grilles (I searched in vain until reading the manual) and there's a brief explanation in the manual as well - dipole is best for movies and bipole is best for music. As an added bonus, Aperion includes wall mounts with the 5DB's. The aptly named Bravus subwoofer is pretty beefy, measuring fifteen inches high by thirteen and a half inches wide by thirteen and a half inches deep. It features dual high-excursion aluminum cones, a built-in 300-watt amplifier and it thumps (more on that later). The sub also features an aesthetically pleasing blue LCD screen and credit card remote, for determined couch monkeys and sub tweakers. All of the speakers are impeccably finished in piano black lacquer, with well made and easily accessible binding posts.
Unpacking this system turned out to be quite a treat, with each speaker wrapped individually in its own little blue and yellow velvet cocoon. In an age when everyone seems to be cutting every corner (can public toilet paper get any more narrow and still be effective?), it's nice to see a company truly go the extra mile. I cannot stress enough how pleasant it is to find beautiful packaging, an SPL meter (battery included), easy to follow instructions, etc. At the end of the day it is, of course, about performance, but these not-so-little touches add greatly to the overall experience of buying from Aperion. After spending a couple of minutes admiring their aesthetics, it was time to rock. I connected the Aperion Intimus speakers to my reference system, a Cary Cinema 11a processor and Cary Model 7.125 7-channel amp, using Oasis 6 speaker cables for the front left, front right and center channel and Luna 16/4 for the surrounds, all by WireWorld. I measured and set the distance of each speaker in the processor and then used the included SPL meter to make sure the volume level of each speaker was uniform at my listening position. While the speaker company recommends the sound level meter be pointed at the source of the sound, the processor manufacturer recommends pointing it at the ceiling. Confusing? Not really, always try it both ways and go with whatever gives you the best (or most accurate) result. Per Aperion's recommendation, I set the crossover point for each of the speakers to 80Hz. In terms of placement, my listening room is fairly standard and at the same time, not very flexible. The front left and right speakers were placed evenly about five feet away on either side of my wall-mounted television, with the center channel placed just below it. The subwoofer is in the left corner of the room; just past my wife's line of site. The surrounds were placed just above and behind my listening position, about six feet away on each side.
Click to Page 2 for Performance, The Downside and The Conclusion.