Aperion Intimus 5T-DB Hybrid HD 5.1 Speaker System Reviewed

Published On: January 25, 2010
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Aperion Intimus 5T-DB Hybrid HD 5.1 Speaker System Reviewed

If you're looking for a true, 5.1 home theater speaker system that isn't a home theater in a box or a soundbar but don't have a lot of money to spend-look no further than the Intimus 5T-DB system from Aperion Audio. Sold direct via the Internet the 5T-DB system is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to bang for the buck loudspeakers.

Aperion Intimus 5T-DB Hybrid HD 5.1 Speaker System Reviewed

By Author: Sean Killebrew

Sean Killebrew began his writing career in the '90s, covering football for UCLA (his alma mater). His first foray into publishing was in 2000, with the below-the-line film- and TV-production guide books LA 411 and NY 411. For the past decade, Sean's passion for audio/video has been poured into writing for HomeTheaterReview.com. When not chasing A/V deals, Sean spends time skiing and losing to his son in basketball.

Aperion-5.1.gifIf 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).

Additional Resources

 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.

The Hookup
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.

I began my first listening session with some 2-channel music, to test
the mettle of the 5T's without their supporting cast. I went with
something very familiar, the Into the Wild Soundtrack (J Records), which
is Eddie Vedder's first solo album. Track Seven "Hard Sun" features
some heavy distortion in Vedder's guitar and the Aperions came out
swinging. I played around with the volume a bit, to ensure strong
articulation at lower-level listening and was not disappointed. The
vocals were strong, raw and engaging and I didn't miss the subwoofer at
all. I played the track several times and heard new details emerge from
the instrumentation each time.

Next up, some DTS surround sound music in the form of Blue Man Group
(featuring Dave Matthews) performing "Sing Along" (DTS Entertainment).
This is a highly engaging track that I always fire up with new speakers.
Again, the Aperions did not disappoint. The Blue's bizarre, homemade
instruments swung effortlessly from speaker to speaker and the timbre
matching was solid. This is a fun, engaging song that needs to be played
loudly to be truly appreciated. It pings and pushes every speaker in a
5.1 system and, for lack of a better word; it was fun to listen to
through the Aperions. This track really let the 5DB's shine, and
showcased their seamless integration with the rest of the system. I
listened to this track mostly in dipole mode.

Having already determined that these speakers had no problem with
dynamic range, I decided to cue up Crystal Method's "Too Slow" (DTS
Entertainment), one of their more popular tracks. This gave me a sense
of the Aperion's highs, which were bright and clear, without being the
least bit fatiguing. While listening to this track I decided to switch
the subwoofer setting from Music to Movie and back again. I noticed that
the Music setting did indeed sound better when listening to music and
vice versa, a sign that the factory presets are up to snuff.

In moving from music to movies, I cued up I Am Legend on Blu-ray
(Warner Home Video). In the opening scene with Will Smith stalking the
deer, the sound from the Aperions was immersive. During the quiet scene
with Will Smith walking through the grass, the subtle sounds of birds
and insects in New York were highly evident and immersive in the 5DB
surrounds. As the action moves to Smith in the Mustang, a scene in which
a deer jumps in front of the car blew across the soundstage and about
blew me off the couch - perfect! The dialogue from the 5C center channel
was highly intelligible and the system handled all that this Dolby
TrueHD soundtrack threw at it with aplomb. These speakers truly shine
with uncompressed multi-channel audio and will play as loud as you'd
like them to, without strain.

Continuing the Blu-ray theme, I spun up Beowulf (Paramount), also in
Dolby TrueHD. This is a complex soundtrack and the opening scene, when
Grendel crashes the dinner party and starts ripping people in half, was
the Bravus 10D's moment to shine. As Grendel makes his way through the
dining hall, each massive step resonated in my listening room - loud,
convincing and terrifying. When Grendel gets sucked out of the room
after wreaking havoc, his screams were piercing, a testament to the
quality of the silk dome tweeters featured in all 5 speakers. It
couldn't have been a more visceral experience, easily the most I've had
while watching this film outside of a movie theater. I consider this
film, at least in some scenes, to be a bit of a torture test for a home
theater system and the Aperions were more than capable. I'm going to do
another round of tweaking, bipole vs. dipole, engaging the sub's
parametric EQ, etc. and then watch this one again - just for kicks.

The Downside
This is a tough one, as my experience with the Aperions was so
overwhelmingly positive. Although I didn't use this film as part of my
review, while watching Master & Commander (20th Century Fox), I did
notice that the bass was a bit boomy. It simply sounded a bit bloated,
but I imagine moving the sub and/or engaging the EQ will probably
eradicate this issue.

The other potential issue is the rather large size of the 5DB
surround speakers, which can make placement (and wife acceptance) a bit
difficult. That said, there are many mix and match options in the
Aperion line, although if you're like me and sound quality trumps size,
you'll choose the 5DB's.

This is a real speaker system, meant to produce big sound that equally
produced an audiophile grade musical experience at more modest listening
levels. Considering their price versus performance - even someone with
$20,000 speakers parked in their living room would be impressed with the
HD sound of this Aperion system. Overall, the system produces a massive
soundstage that is truly immersive on both movies and music. Between
the packaging, the well-written instructions, the included accessories
and the stellar performance of these speakers, I can recommend them
unequivocally. In the new economy and at these prices, these speakers
just make sense.

Additional Resources

 Aperion's Grand Versus Speakers - click here for more.
Aperion debuts a wireless speaker system at CEDIA 2010.

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