Aperion Audio, the Internet direct loudspeaker manufacturer from Portland, Oregon, has been making a serious run on the competition, challenging the likes of Paradigm, Definitive Technology, PSB and more for the title of the best affordable loudspeaker. Whether or not you believe an Internet direct company like Aperion Audio can take on the likes of Paradigm or Definitive Technology in terms of overall sales is irrelevant, for where it counts - sound quality - Aperion has just thrown down the gauntlet with their newest flagship loudspeaker - the Verus Grand Tower Speaker.
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Retailing for $899 each ($1,798 per pair), the Verus Grand Towers are a decidedly upscale affair, clad in your choice of two finishes: medium gloss cherry and high gloss black, both of which are exquisite. My review pair came finished in medium gloss cherry, which I found to be equal in quality and appearance to the far more expensive Revel Studio2s that were my personal reference for years. The Verus Grand Tower Speakers measure in at 43 and a half inches tall by eight inches wide and 12 inches deep. They weigh 65 pounds apiece and feature thick aluminum outrigger feet and spikes, which screw into the bottom of the speakers themselves. The Verus Grand Tower Speaker's cabinet curves gently from the front baffle on back to the rear, though it doesn't form a crease; instead it plateaus leaving room top to bottom for the Verus' dual rear ports and four five-way binding posts.
Behind the fabric clad magnetic grills rests a one-inch ASR Tweeter sandwiched between two five-inch woven Kevlar woofers or midrange drivers, both of which have Aluminum Phase Plugs. The ASR, or Axially Stabilized Radiator, is Aperion's latest silk dome tweeter technology, which allows for the tweeter itself to play lower into the midrange, thus lowering the crossover point easing the load on the midrange drivers around the 1.8 kHz mark. Furthermore, the midrange drivers' aluminum phase plugs allow for greater power handling and dynamic range, which coupled with the new ASR Tweeter and D'Appolito driver arrangement should make for a more coherent and involving sound - at least according to Aperion's designers. Rounding out the bottom end of the spectrum are dual six-inch woven Kevlar drivers. The Verus Grand Tower Speaker has a reported frequency response of 45 - 20,000 Hz (+/- 3dB) and 35 - 22,000 Hz (+/- 6dB) with an impedance of six Ohms and a sensitivity rating of 92dB, making the Verus full-range enough for average sized rooms and capable of being powered by just about anything on the market today.
Consumers looking to build a home theater speaker system around a pair of Verus Grand Tower Speakers should note that Aperion Audio also offers a matching center channel speaker, the Verus Grand Center Channel Speaker ($699), as well as a bookshelf speaker, the Verus Grand Bookshelf Speaker ($299 each). As for a subwoofer, there is currently no "matching" Verus subwoofer. Aperion recommends using their Bravus subwoofers to round out the Verus Grand Tower Speaker's bottom end if you feel it necessary.
Lastly, all Aperion Audio speakers, including the Verus Grand Tower Speakers, come with a 10-year warranty, full price trade-up commitment, risk free 30-day in-home audition and free shipping within the lower 48 states and Canada.
The Verus Grand Tower Speakers arrived on my doorstep courtesy of FedEx in two custom cardboard boxes, which despite some obvious shipping damage kept the speakers inside in perfect condition both physically and operationally. The speakers themselves were wrapped in Aperion's trademark blue/black velvet sheaths complete with gold rope trim. I've talked about Aperion's pride of ownership factor before and I was pleased to find their commitment to detail intact with the Verus Grand Tower Speakers.
Unpacking the Verus Grand Tower Speakers is an easy enough job for a single person, though an extra set of hands wouldn't hurt. Once out of the box I assembled the metal feet and screwed them to the bottom of the Verus speakers themselves before beginning the process of placing them in my room.
I moved my reference Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers and placed the Verus Grand Tower Speakers in their place, approximately two and a half feet from my front wall and three feet from my side walls with roughly eight feet between them. However, this setup proved to be less than ideal because of the Verus' rear ported design, resulting in me having to move them an additional foot out into my room and an extra a foot and a half in from my side walls to achieve the best possible sound throughout the Verus' frequency range.
I connected the Verus Grand Tower Speakers to a variety of electronics ranging from the super affordable, a $500 Onkyo receiver, to a high-end separates system consisting of Classe's new Delta Series stereo amplifier and Classe Omega dual chassis pre-amp. I even did a few late night listening tests using my esoteric Decware single ended triode amplifier, which spits out a meager two watts per channel into eight Ohms. All of the various system configurations were wired using Transparent Reference cable throughout and relied on the same source components: my AppleTV/Cambridge Audio DacMagic combo and Sony ES Blu-ray player.
Out of the box the Verus Grand Tower Speakers sounded a bit muffled and decidedly heavy in the bass and lower midrange with barely any high frequency extension and detail. I went ahead and let them "burn-in" over a weekend, putting about 18 hours on the odometer before sitting down for my first listen.
I began my evaluation of the Verus Grand Tower Speakers with some two-channel music courtesy of Filter's album, Title of Record, and the track "Take a Picture" (Reprise). Via my Onkyo receiver the sound quality was solid, possessing a fairly robust bottom end complimented by a smooth, grain-free midrange and a fairly delicate high frequency response. While the performance was good - okay better than good - there was a bit of low end detail and control that was absent and the high frequencies seemed to lack a bit of extension and air, two things that are not uncommon with budget oriented loudspeakers.