Aperion Audio's new Novus 5.0.2 surround sound system ($2,995) is an interesting departure for the company. Situated between their beloved Intimus and Verus lines, the Novus lineup isn't merely a mid-point between them, at least not in terms of aesthetics and design. Aperion claims thousands of hours of research and development time were used to create the Novus line, and with their 20 years of speaker design experience, the company set out to create a surround sound speaker system that offers incredible performance and value for the money, something Aperion is well known for already.
The first thing that makes Novus an obvious departure from the company's previous efforts, though, is the addition of dedicated height channel speaker. Unlike most height speakers, though, which exist as either built-in up-firing modules or dedicated ceiling speakers, the Novus A5 Height Module can be placed on top of the tower speakers to reflect sound off your ceiling to the listener, on the wall above your screen angled directly towards the listener, or on the ceiling itself, also angled directly towards the listener. The inclusion of these height speakers adds a strong value proposition to this new line of speakers.
Upon unboxing the Novus system, I was pleasantly surprised to see Aperion use high density open cell foam to protect the speakers in shipment. This pliable foam is perfect for shipping large, heavy items. I won't name names, but I've had plenty of speakers, worth quite a bit more money, shipped to me in cheap, rigid, closed cell packing foam. I've had several instances where this type of foam was damaged in shipment, leaving the speakers susceptible to dings and scrapes. So, kudos to Aperion for spending the extra money to package these speakers right. This means fewer potential headaches for buyers.
Although the speakers are made in China, build quality and finish consistency between each speaker was very good on my review samples. The speakers are available in either Stealth Black or Pure White, and the matte finish is home theater friendly, aiding to reduce cabinet reflections that might be distracting in a darkened room. I did the classic knuckle-rap test against the sides of each cabinet and was pleased with the subsequent inert noise, which was far better than some other similarly priced speakers I've recently had here for review.
An important aspect of speaker design for any manufacturer is not just finding the right sound, but also a unique look that makes the speakers distinctly their own. In this regard, I think Aperion has hit the nail on the head. All Novus speakers share the same sloping front-baffle design. Aperion claims this helps to phase align the tweeter with the woofer. The main five-channel speakers all share the same ferrofluid-cooled natural-fiber dome-membrane tweeter. Surrounding the tweeter is an aluminum faceplate, yellow accent ring, and black metal grille, giving the speakers a unique look. Aperion claims this newly developed tweeter has a flat frequency response up to 30kHz, which is impressive for a dome tweeter in this price segment.
For the bookshelf and tower speakers, Aperion have included a jumper on the back of the cabinet that allows you to adjust the signal gain of the tweeter from reference to -3dB, which would give the tweeter a more laid-back sound if that's what you prefer. The 5.25-inch woofer and four-inch midrange used on the center channel are made from an aramid-fiber material, which Aperion claims helps increase dynamic range, reduce distortion, and increase driver excursion capabilities for better bass response. Considering the towers are only a three-driver, two-way design and are rated to go down to 36hz, it seems these performance increases to the woofer design are needed to get this kind of performance out of a speaker this size. I usually prefer ported speakers to be rear-ported, giving the speakers a cleaner look; however, the concave slotted ports on these Novus speakers enhance the design, so, in this case, I didn't mind them being on the front.
The pair of included A5 height speakers have a single coaxial driver that uses a new German natural-fiber, silk-dome, ferrofluid-cooled tweeter that's surrounded by a 5.25-inch aluminum cone woofer. As noted above, because they're completely separate speakers, they can be setup in a number of ways. They're designed in a way that if you choose to place them on top of the tower speakers, for reflective sound, they won't look out of place.
The system doesn't come with a subwoofer, so especially for surround sound use, you'll want to add one, seeing how the center and height channels don't go lower than 70hz and 140hz respectively. All the speakers in the Novus line have a 4-ohm impedance and are reasonably efficient, ranging from 85dB to 88dB.
Setting the speakers up is fairly straightforward. As there isn't anything too unconventional about their design, they don't require anything particularly special in terms of placement. If this is your first time setting up a pair of surround speakers, I'd refer you to the user manual for helpful tips on proper setup. Potential buyers should note that the A5 height and surround bookshelf speakers don't come with wall mount brackets in the box, so be sure to get yourself a couple with rated weight support for these speakers if you need them mounted.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competion, and Conclusion...