• The HB-1 MK2 may not be the most visually striking loudspeaker out there, but its build quality is still high quality and its finish is first-rate.
• The HB-1 MK2 manages to be so affordable thanks to its manufacturer's Internet direct sales model. All HSU speakers and subwoofers come with a thirty-day satisfaction guarantee and a seven-year warranty.
• For such a modest speaker, the HB-1 MK2 manages to sound more neutral and thus high-end than many costing several times its sub-$150 price.
• The HB-1 MK2's sound is one of neutrality and openness that possesses a smooth, grain-free high-frequency response that, after a few minutes of playing time, will have you convinced that many other speakers' tweeters are bright in comparison.
• The HB-1 MK2's soundstage is truly epic and, when properly set up, is nearly as good as it gets, and not just for its price.
• As a home theater speaker, the HB-1 MK2 simply excels. As a pair of two-channel mains it's not bad, though some lesser-quality recordings definitely benefit from other speakers' color and character.
• HSU doesn't offer a matching stand for the HB-1 MK2, so you'll have to do a bit of research and find your own, which does add to the cost a bit.
• For true full-range sound, and frankly for optimal performance, the HB-1 MK2s need to be mated to a subwoofer. Like the stands, this also adds to the overall cost of things, but not as much as you'd think.
• The HB-1 MK2's tweeter doesn't have the best vertical dispersion, so you'll want to make sure it's mounted as close as possible to ear level for best results.
• Because of its neutral character, the HB-1 MK2 should be grouped with other HSU speakers, for I found it doesn't mate well with other speaker brands.
• For those with larger rooms and/or a propensity to take things to 11, I recommend stepping up to the larger HC-1 MK2, for the HB-1 MK2 won't play loud the way a larger speaker will.
Competition and Comparison
There aren't a lot of bookshelf speakers retailing for less than $300 per pair that manage to sound as good as the HB-1 MK2, but there are a few. Other bookshelf speakers in this category to consider are Aperion Audio's Verus Forte bookshelf speaker at $175 each, as well as Infinity Primus P142 bookshelf speakers at $198 per pair and, finally, Paradigm's Atom Monitor at $250 per pair (last I checked). I believe the HB-1 MK2 to be the best of the aforementioned trio, but nevertheless, you do have a few options. For more on these bookshelf speakers and others, please visit Home Theater Review's Bookshelf Speaker page.
Let's not beat around the bush. The HB-1 MK2 isn't a sub-$200 speaker that somehow manages to beat out $10,000 ones, no, but it is a sub-$200 speaker that manages to hold its own against speakers costing between $500 and $1,000. But more than that, the HB-1 MK2 is a loudspeaker for someone who isn't looking to fuss with all the usual enthusiast ailments, it's for the enthusiast who just wants to get on with enjoying favorite music and movies. When viewed in that light, the HB-1 MK2s are virtually unbeatable. The bottom line is this: you could easily assemble a 5.1 system around the HB-1 MK2 and a matching HSU Research subwoofer for less than a grand; throw in a modest Outlaw Audio amp and perhaps an AV receiver as a preamp and you have a no-nonsense, non-apologetic home theater for less than what many speakers cost - each. I love 'em.
• Read more bookshelf speaker reviews from the HomeTheaterReview.com staff.
• Find an amp to drive the HB-1 MK2 in our Amplifier Review section.
• Explore subwoofer options to pair with the HSU Research speaker.