I've been a fan of Boston Acoustics since the mid-80's, when my Mom actually came home with a pair of massive floor-standers that (according to the salesman at Circuit City) could be found behind the screen in some movie theaters. Flash forward some 25 years and now I'm listening to another impressive set of Boston's, these of the 5.1 surround sound variety and retailing for an affordable $850. The set includes two pairs of CS 23 satellites for the front/rear, the CS 223C center channel and the CS Sub 10 subwoofer.
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The system is available in black walnut or cherry vinyl finish (my review sample came in cherry) and while the finish is decent, manufacturers have been stepping up their game in this regard lately, even at the lower price points. Mounting options are plentiful, allowing you to place the speakers on stands, a shelf, or on the wall using the keyhole slots on the rear panel. The CS 23 satellite speakers are diminutive, measuring seven and three quarter inches high by five inches wide by five inches deep. The CS 223C center channel is also quite compact, measuring five inches high by 12 and a half inches wide and a little over four inches deep. The CS Sub 10 measures 15 inches on all sides and weighs 32 pounds, making it quite large compared to many of the subs in other compact 5.1 systems. The satellites feature a three and a half inch copolymer DCD woofer and a one-inch Kortec soft dome tweeter. The center channel features dual three and a half inch copolymer DCD woofers, as well as the same one-inch Kortec tweeter found in the CS 23's. The CS Sub 10 features a 10 inch down-firing DCD woofer, a built-in 100 Watt amp and BassTrac, which has nothing to do with fishing and everything to do with eliminating distortion. The rear panel of the CS Sub 10 includes LFE and line level inputs, volume control, polarity control (which can be set to regular or inverted phase, basically whichever sounds better in your room) and a standard crossover control.
I connected the CS 2310 system to my reference system, a McIntosh MX136 processor and Monster MPA 5150 five-channel amp. I set the front/rear satellites to "small" in the McIntosh setup menu and set the crossover on the CS Sub 10 to 80 Hz. For movies and lossless music, I used my Panasonic DMP-BD55 Blu-ray player with HDMI for video and (due to the lack of audio pass through on the Mac's HDMI inputs), used the 5.1 analog outputs for audio. I placed the center channel just under my Samsung 1080p LCD, stand-mounted the satellites just above ear level and placed the sub in the front left corner of the room. While the Boston's come packaged with speaker wire and a subwoofer cable, which is a nice touch, I opted for higher quality, lower gauge speaker cables in order to glean the best possible performance from the speakers. Speaking of performance, it's fair to say that in most real-world scenarios, people who buy this system will be using an A/V receiver to drive them, rather than $14K worth of high-end separates. That said, the better the source components, the better your chances of hearing all that a speaker system is capable of.
I began my first listening session with Dolby Digital's new Blu-ray demo disc and ended up spending a good deal of time with it. First up was "Crash Into Me," performed by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds (Sony BMG) in lossless Dolby TrueHD. I found the CS 2310's to be both detailed and engaging. In fact, I had to stop myself from singing in order to get back to listening, a good sign indeed. Dave Matthew's voice was clear and highly articulate. The guitar play was detailed and the overall feeling of being in the concert hall was convincing. While the soundstage was a bit narrow, this might be due to the rather large size of my listening room. In a small to mid-sized room the soundstage should open up considerably.