Brent has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has reviewed thousands of audio products over the years. He has served as editor-in-chief of Home Theater and Home Entertainment magazines, contributing technical editor for Sound & Vision magazine, senior editor of Video magazine, and reviews editor of Windows Sources magazine, and he also worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He's now on staff at Wirecutter.
With its new speaker line, Definitive Technology draws its inspiration from its original speakers, launched way back in 1990. Like the company's first model, the BP10, the new BP9000 line uses bipolar designs, with speaker drivers mounted on the front and back baffles to create a more spacious sound. A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to hear the first samples of the new models in the San Diego-area headquarters of Sound United, now parent company of Definitive Technology and Polk. As wonderful as the BP10 was--the first pair I heard, in 1991, is still in use at the home of an entertainment journalist friend of mine, and still sounding great--the new models represent a huge leap in performance...and at surprisingly affordable prices.
The demo, conducted for me and a few other West Coast audio journalists, focused on the BP9020, which at $649 each is the least expensive of the BP9000 Series tower speakers. The new line differs from the previous 8000 Series in subtle ways: sleeker industrial designs; all-new drivers designed specifically for these speakers; and upgraded crossovers that replace cheaper electrolytic capacitors with mylar film capacitors and metal-core inductors with air-core inductors.
The new models also differ in not-at-all subtle ways, including an optional Dolby Atmos module that snaps onto the top of each tower with no wiring required. All of the tower speakers incorporate cast aluminum bases; and, because the three lower-priced models all share the same cross-section, they can all accommodate the new $499/pair A90 Atmos module. An aluminum plate covers the top of each speaker if the A90 is not installed. The flagship tower speaker, the BP9080X, has an integrated Atmos module.
Each BP9020 incorporates two one-inch tweeters and two 3.5-inch midranges, with one array firing forward and one firing backward. Toward the bottom is an eight-inch woofer, reinforced by two passive radiators. Unlike the BP10, which was just two woofer/tweeter arrays connected in parallel, the rear-firing section of the BP9020 is toned down a bit in order to achieve stronger stereo imaging. "This is a refinement of something we introduced in the 8000 Series," Sound United senior VP of new product development Matt Lyons said. "It's balancing the old-school bipolar concept with a more focused sound."
The new models also incorporate a technological twist in their powered bass sections, a feature that's been common in Definitive's speakers since the mid-1990s. The speakers' Intelligent Bass Control is a DSP tuning function that allows the user to set the bass level (using a knob on the speaker) without affecting the midrange. "It doesn't affect the crossover region between the woofer and midranges, only below 100 Hz, and it uses multiple filters to maintain the correct response," Joel Sietsema, Sound United senior director of brand management, explained. "It's tuned so you can adjust the lower bass to suit your taste or your room without messing up the upper bass or lower mids."
I was pretty impressed with the demo, in which the pair of BP9020s delivered strong deep bass output and what seemed like a just-right blend of spaciousness and focused imaging on Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." And when Sietsema turned the bass up, it gave the system more bottom-end shake without making Isaak's voice sound boomy.
The BP9020 and A90 are slated to ship in May. Other models shipping in May are the $1,099-each BP9060 and the $899-each BP9040. The flagship model, the $1,749-each BP9080X, is scheduled for July availability.
The company will also offer center and surround speakers to match the new towers. Center speakers now available are the $699-each CS9060 and the $499-each CS9040; the $999-each CS9080 is slated for shipping in July. The $249-each SR9040 surround speaker is now available, with the $349 SR9080 scheduled for July.
Here is the official press release:
Definitive Technology has announced the launch of the BP9000 series loudspeakers--its 4th generation of Bipolar tower speakers, matching center channels, surrounds, and a height speaker module, designed to offer true, full-range performance for listeners seeking the highest quality audio reproduction. The BP9000 lineup pays homage to Definitive Technology's lineage of award-winning Bipolar speakers--which radiate sound from drivers placed on the front and back panels of the speaker--with a completely modified design and user experience that integrate powered subwoofers and the latest audio technologies. The new collection consists of the BP9020, BP9040, BP9060 and flagship BP9080X floor standing Bipolar tower speakers; the CS9040, CS9060 and CS9080 center channel speakers; the SR9040 and SR9080 surround speakers; and the A90 height speaker module supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatibility.
Conveying Definitive Technology's minimalist design philosophy, the BP9000 series is wrapped in premium materials such as brushed natural aluminum top plates that disguise the height module connector port, universally accepted acoustically transparent grille wraps, a totally inert resonance-free one-piece cabinet construction, and a cast aluminum base on each of the towers. The range features advanced audio reproduction technologies, including aluminum dome tweeters for crystal clear highs, an integrated powered subwoofer for full-range audio reproduction, the new Intelligent Bass Control technology for superior sub-bass performance, and the patented Forward-Focused Bipolar technology for a broader, room-filling soundstage. Additionally, with the available Dolby Atmos and DTS:X A90 module that easily integrates into the BP9020, BP9040, BP9060 tower speakers, modern listeners will have the latest technology at their disposal for superior home theater performance. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X height functionality is built-into the BP9080X tower speaker.
"Definitive Technology engineers and designers have always taken an obsessive approach to developing the best-performing products for the home theater, and the BP9000 series is a perfect example of that," said Joel Sietsema, Senior Director of Brand Management, Sound United. "The BP10 series, introduced in 1991, was our first speaker that led the way in elevating Definitive Technology as one of the best-known brands in performance audio. This new collection is a testament to our meticulous eye for detail, use of new object-oriented audio technologies, stunning design, and a breadth of new audio technologies. We know the best speaker successfully reproduces sound across the entire audible frequency range in the most balanced way possible, and the BP9000 series does just that."
Serving as the flagship member of the BP9000 series, the BP9080X floor standing tower speaker features a patented forward-focused Bipolar driver array that offer a balance between room-filling sound and a precise center image for an incredibly accurate, immersive sound stage. With integrated, powered 12-inch subwoofers and dual bass radiators, the BP9080X delivers impactful low-frequencies without the need for a separate subwoofer and offers Intelligent Bass Control that allows users to modulate deep bass up or down while simultaneously maintaining precise mid-range tonal balance. The BP9080X's three 5.25-inch midrange drivers with patented Balanced Double Surround Sound technology improve driver excursion. The result is a driver that produces bass output normally associated with a larger driver, while retaining the improved dispersion and midrange definition of a smaller driver for perfectly balanced sound. Additionally, with two 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters for crystal-clear highs, an acoustically transparent grille, as well as an inert, resonance-free cabinet, listeners enjoy natural, accurate, yet powerful sound. The BP9080X also includes an integrated two-way height speaker for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X use that delivers object-oriented audio so listeners experience multi-dimensional sound for a home theater experience like never before.
Rounding out the BP9000 tower speaker options, the BP9020, BP9040 and BP9060 offer the same incredible performance as the BP9080X speaker. Each tower speaker features an integrated, powered 8-inch (BP9020 and 9040) or 10-inch (BP9060) subwoofer and dual-bass radiators, multiple 3.5-inch (BP9020) or 4.5-inch (BP9040 and BP9060) mid-range drivers and 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters for a perfectly balanced sound stage. All of these towers are also Dolby Atmos and DTS:X compatible, each with a hidden connector port that fits the universal A90 height speaker module (sold separately). Users simply remove the magnetically sealed, acoustically treated aluminum top panel from the speaker and firmly align and place the A90 elevation speaker module atop the corresponding speaker to hear and feel multi-dimensional sound. Additionally, the BP9000 series tower speakers all include a cast aluminum base with precision cut, knurled carpet spikes and hard-floor glides for maximum speaker stability and a LED back-lit Definitive Technology logo for timeless design and sophistication.
Pricing & Availability:
BP9080X - $1,749/each (available late summer)
BP9060 - $1,099/each (available end of May)
BP9040 - $899/each (available end of May)
BP9020 - $649/each (available end of May)
A90 Module - $499/pair (available end of May)
In support of home theaters, the BP9000 series offers three high performance center channel options, the CS9040, CS9060 and CS9080. All feature integrated bass technologies including an 8-inch subwoofer (CS9060 and CS9080) or bass radiators (CS9040 and CS9080), 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters and dual midrange drivers (4.5-inch for the CS9040 and 9060 and 5.25-inch for the CS9080) to accurately reproduce even the most demanding audio content. The CS9060 and CS9080 (powered subwoofer) also feature Intelligent Bass Control for precise bass modulation and a LED backlit Definitive Technology logo.
Pricing & Availability:
CS9080 - $999/each (available late summer)
CS9060 - $699/each (available end of May)
CS9040 - $499/each (available end of May)
To provide every detail of pure home theater, the BP9000 series also includes two surround speaker options, the SR9040 and SR9080. Both feature two 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters and two midrange drivers--the SR9040 offers 3.5-inch midrange drivers, while the SR9080 offers 4.5-inch midrange drivers with patented Balanced Double Surround System technology for improved dispersion and midrange definition. Both also feature powerful left/right bipolar speaker dispersion patterns for completely enveloping, high-definition sound quality that results in total sound field immersion.
Pricing & Availability:
SR9080 - $349/each (available late summer)
SR9040 - $249/each (available end of May)
The BP9000 series loudspeakers will be available at the end of May, while the BP9080X, CS9080, and SR9080 will be available in July at national retailers including Magnolia Home Theater and Magnolia Design Center locations inside Best Buy, Amazon, Crutchfield and other fine retailers nationwide and regionally.