It is true. You do not get a second chance to make a great first impression. The folks at Aperion Audio, based in Portland, Oregon, have certainly taken this truth to heart. Inside the heavy master carton, the speakers are individually boxed and nearly fully covered in expanded foam and wrapped in plastic, and inside each box, every speaker is in its own blue velvet, sateen-lined sack. If you aren't like most kids with new toys, and take the time to open the small white box included, you will find some white gloves for handling these carefully packaged speakers, and an SPL meter to assist in properly setting them up. This is class all the way, folks.
Since Aperion only sells direct, you're not paying for the privilege of seeing them in a retail store. That, in part, is what enables Aperion to lavish such attention on their presentation. Presentation isn't where it stops though. While the SPL meter does make a statement, the utility is much more important. Another extremely nice touch that those without carpeting will appreciate, are the flat, metal floor savers provided for the speaker spikes used with the subwoofer. Add this to Aperion's confidence in their product--confidence to ship them to you for free, allow you to listen at home on your equipment for 30 days, and if you're not satisfied, to return them (shipping paid by Aperion)--and this is one compelling package.
We've already covered a couple of unique features, but there is plenty more to talk about here. Before the boxes were ever opened, I was taken with the weight. These are substantial little speakers. The Intimus 422-LR Satellite speaker is only 7.5 in. H x 5 in. W x 6 in. D and weighs 6 lbs. (4-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter, ditto for the Center Speaker). The 422-C Center channel is 5 in. H x 12 in. W x 6 in. D, weighing in at 7 lbs., and the S-8 Subwoofer is 14.5 in. H x 10.5 in. W x 15 in. D, and is a fairly hefty 37 lbs. Quite unlike other speakers in this price range, the Aperions have a nice wood veneer finish. (Mine were cherry. They are also available in black.) To help protect the finish, and to give them a more solid stance when sitting on a shelf, the satellites also have four small rubber feet on their bottoms. The satellite speakers have threaded inserts on the rear and bottom of the cabinets to allow for the attachment of wall brackets or stands. There are also nice gold-plated five-way binding posts.
The S-8 subwoofer does have what I consider a major flaw. In Aperion's defense, it is a flaw many manufacturers' subs have. There is no crossover bypass. There are also no speaker level inputs. This could be an issue if you wanted an S-8 as part of just a small 2-channel system. The fit and finish of the woofer is impressive for a product in this price range. Just the appearance belies the price. When you take a look behind the woofer, the slotted port at the bottom is elegantly flared and finished. I have seen much more expensive products that did not exhibit this type of attention to detail. There are some pretty meaty heat sinks on the rear of the woofer as well, along with dials for subwoofer level and crossover frequency. A nice feature that is included, especially given that this sub will most likely be used in a Home Theater situation, is the inclusion of low-level inputs and outputs.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The setup could not have been any easier. In my case, since I am reviewing in hopes of providing useful knowledge to many, I do not go to extraordinary lengths to obtain optimum performance. In this case, I took an existing entertainment wall, and using the shelves already in place, put all three front speakers at roughly the same height, approximately 4.5 feet off the ground. The right and left mains were spaced 8 feet apart, and I sat 12 feet away. The right and left surrounds were placed just a few inches down from the ceiling (I used the existing mounts for my regular surrounds, which are very large and extend much lower). Using the included SPL meter, I calibrated all the levels, and it was movie time.
After allowing the speakers to play pretty much continuously for several days to allow them to "break in," the really serious auditioning began. Batman Begins was my first movie experience with the Intimus 422/S-8 system. This was a good choice for me because I had just watched this movie on my regular system. Without going into a lot of detail, let me just say that my regular system has a whole lot more of everything (i.e., power, speaker size). To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Soundstage, clarity, and fullness were all more than expected. The first thing to catch my attention was the integration between the subwoofer and the satellites.Continue to Page 2 to read more about the performance of the Intimus 422s.
Later, I pulled out an old staple, my Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Extended Edition. Once again, in all the scenes I have used as reference on so many occasions, this system rose to meet the challenge. I was able, with some very excessive pushing, to get the woofer to complain. This should never be a concern if this woofer is used in the correct-sized area however.?
One of the biggest complaints I usually have with complete speaker ensembles is with the center channel speaker. Many centers just do not project the clarity of voice I would like to hear, especially given the cost of many of them. The 422-C was not among those to disappoint me. My normal center is quite large, and I was prepared for a tinny, thin sound from this comparatively tiny speaker. Sometimes it just feels great to be wrong.
This is a surround package, and I tested it as such, but I also realize that folks with good gear and good ears like to listen to music as well. For those who have yet to take the plunge into multichannel audio, the preference for music might be to listen in stereo. For this reason, I always test speakers this way also. Remember, I did not do an optimum setup on this system, so when I heard a focused, three-dimensional soundstage with solid imaging, all I could do was sit there and grin.?
I have mentioned price range a couple of times, but I haven't said what it is. Well, the price for the Intimus 422/S-8 system is $799. There are also some other things I haven't told you. One of those things is that these speakers come with a 10-year warranty. The amplifier in the subwoofer comes with a 3-year warranty. Within just a couple of days of receiving your speakers, you will also get a thank-you card encouraging you to call Aperion's technical assistance should you need help in getting your system set up. Also, the Aperion web site is full of very useful and accurate information about the proper setup of a sound system. In short, this company seems to have just about all the bases covered.
Aperion is not the only company to sell their products in this manner, directly to the consumer. When companies do this, the pitch is usually similar to Aperion's. That is, by bypassing distribution channels and the retailer, costs are cut, and the savings can be passed on to the consumer, giving you a better product for less money. Yes, this is the pitch, but unfortunately this isn't always how it works. Aperion, in my very humble opinion, is walking the walk. I have seen products costing up to three times as much as the Aperions, but I did not feel they were any better quality. I guess by now it is no secret: I like these speakers, and yes, I would recommend them to anyone looking for a high-value, high-performance speaker system.
INTIMUS 422/S-8 SYSTEM
422/S-8 Compact Home Theater System
422LR Satellite Speaker • 422-C Center Speaker
S-8 8" Powered Woofer
Frequency response for 422LR
Satellites and 422-C Center: 20-100 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
Recommended power: 25-150 watts
Intimus S-8 Powered Subwoofer
Frequency response: 30-180 Hz
Amplifier Power: 100 watts (RMS)