When Aperion Audio sent me its Verus II Grand Bookshelf Speakers for review earlier this year, the company had recently introduced some rolling changes to the Verus II lineup that most companies would have considered a full-blown model upgrade. Aperion seems to agree, and so the Verus II line is now the Verus III line. As mentioned in that review, one of the most significant changes amounts to a Treble Mod jumper that allows you to apply a 3dB roll-off of frequencies above 3.5 kHz. Other improvements to the line include an upgraded crossover network, tweaks to the midrange driver, and the addition of ferrofluid to the Axially Stabilized V.2 Silk Dome Tweeter. Impressed as I was with the Verus II Grand (now Verus III Grand) Bookshelf, I also wanted to check out a pair of the new Verus III (formerly Verus II) Grand Tower Speakers, reviewed here.
The Tower builds on the same platform as the Bookshelf, but of course with the addition of a handful of extra drivers--namely an additional 5.25-inch midrange driver and two 6.5-inch Kevlar woofers, along with an additional tuned port, bringing the speaker's usable bass response down to an impressive 45Hz.
One thing I especially dig is that the ports come plugged, which does make speaker placement a bit easier, especially if you're employing them as the front left and right in a home theater setup. If you know for sure you'd like to unport them and get a bit of extra kick in the bottom end, though, rest assured that chuffing is minimal enough as to be negligible, and they're not that difficult to place at all, so long as you're not cramming them up against a wall. Depending on your seating position, a slight bit of toe-in might be preferable, but the Verus III Grand Tower's off-axis response rolls off smoothly and gently, making for a speaker with very nice dispersion characteristics.
The Tower's connectivity is identical to that of the Bookshelf; the same dual set of gorgeous five-way binding posts, the same positioning of the Treble Mod jumper, the same spacing, the same high-quality interconnects for jumpers instead of the standard metal plate. To repeat myself from my earlier review, those who prefer a bare-wire connection might find things a bit of a squeeze, and the spade connectors for the jumpers might lead to a bit of a juggling act, but banana plugs, either solo or dual-tipped, work like a charm.
Aesthetically, the Towers share a ton of DNA with their Bookshelf brethren, too, although the taller form does call more attention to the speakers' recessed magnetic grille, which may add a little extra fuss if you tend to dress and undress your speakers with any regularity, since it isn't the easiest thing in the world to hook a fingernail in there and pop the grille out. They do slip back into place with a muffled snap, though, and the speakers just look like hot-buttered sex either grilled or un-grilled. In terms of sonic impact, I couldn't hear any deterioration of high frequencies with the grilles on. If anything, perhaps a very, very slight coloration of the midrange, oddly enough, but overall my preference was grilles-on, if only because I tend to walk right by my stereo setup on the way out of my office, and I'd rather not risk poking a driver absentmindedly.
Aperion's cabinets are, in my opinion, to die for, with a finish that looks like it could have been applied by Short Dog from Martin Bros. Customs (for those of you in the back row who don't watch Iron Resurrection, Shorty is pretty much the Mexican Michelangelo of automotive paint), if only he worked in wood grains and earthen hues.
In terms of performance, everything I said about the Verus II (now III) Grand Bookshelves applies here, just with more bottom-end oomph and more dynamic impact in the midrange frequencies and below. Andrew Bird's new single "Bloodless" is probably as good a track as any to spotlight any differences between the two. If you're not familiar with Bird's musical aesthetic, it hinges upon attack and decay in equal measure. There's always a sense of space in his mixes that's rendered beautifully by both the Verus III Grand speakers, and A/Bing back and forth between them, it's immediately obvious that they're a wonderful timbre matched set. But with the Towers, the song's big, roomy drums and standup bass simply have more authority, more kick, more impact, and more natural decay.
I mentioned in the review of the Bookshelves how surprisingly well they handled Childish Gambino's "This Is America," and I stand by that. But of course, with more drivers to work with, the Towers handle the low, throbbing bassline better, and as such free up the midrange drivers to deliver vocals with even better clarity (something I wasn't quite expecting, given how well the Bookshelves handled that aspect of the dense mix). And the bass breakdown near the end of the track that introduced a slight bit of audible chuffing with the Bookshelves came through cleanly and beautifully here, even with the ports unplugged.
Comparison and Competition
Looking at the total picture, the speaker that comes to mind as the Verus III Grand Tower's most obvious competitor is Polk Audio's LSiM 705. Very similar performance, especially in terms of punch and impact. Very similar styling, although the Polk does rely on oblong bass radiators, which changes the aesthetics a bit. The Polks are also like half an elephant heavier, and are much larger, but they do dig a little deeper. The Aperions definitely have a leg up in terms of efficiency, though, which is something to consider.
Definitive Technology's BP9060 also comes to mind. Put them toe-to-toe in a beauty contest and the DefTechs will lose handily, but they do have a few tricks up their sleeves that are worth noting. A built-in subwoofer does mean you get much deeper and more powerful bass, plus the built-in Atmos speaker module port makes the speaker more flexible in home theater setups.
One thing to consider, though, is that if you're building a home theater system, the center channel may well be the speaker that you build your entire system around, and Aperion's centers are amongst my favorites. True, I haven't reviewed the Verus III Grand Center, but I'm familiar with its forebears, as well as Aperion's current Intimus Center (Intimus is Aperion's more affordable, less adorned, boxier line, if you're not familiar), and as such I have no hesitation recommending it, especially given Aperion's 60-day in-home audition.
As I said in my review of the Verus II (again, now III) Grand Bookshelf, if price and performance are all you care about when shopping for a new speaker, I would probably point you in the direction of Aperion Audio's Intimus line and suggest that you start your audition there. The Verus line is an incredible value, too, and in terms of performance I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this speaker. But you are spending your money on things that might not matter to you--like a fancier finish, sexier materials, more upscale connectivity, and better grilles, etc.
Do I think these enhancements are worth it? Absolutely, but my subjective opinion is irrelevant when it comes time for you to plunk down your credit card. If you like the finer things in life, though, I would suggest giving the Verus III Grand Tower some serious attention. Frankly, I'm a little shocked that you get so much speaker for so little money. Granted, Aperion Audio doesn't really have a seductive narrative here. At the end of the day, the company is relying on pretty traditional components, put together conservatively and intelligently to create a speaker that isn't necessarily a conversation starter. Shut up and listen, though, and I think you'll find a lot to love about this gorgeous overachiever.
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��Aperion Audio Verus II Grand Bookshelf Speakers Reviewed at HomeTheaterReview.com.