Roksan Five Channel Amp Reviewed

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Quite clearly, Roksan's first A/V product is a smash hit. For a British amp, it brazenly, defiantly embraces the home cinema ethos by offering guts, set-and-forget dependability (or protection circuitry peace-of-mind), ease-of-use, dynamic prowess worthy of an effects-laden blockbuster, and - for the times when the TV monitor is off - enough finesse to do justice to the Beatles. Admittedly, it was the first time I'd heard 'All You Need Is Love' and Nowhere Man' as five-channel creations, but I'm sold: the system sounded just as good when I later fed it the remastered, two-channel-only CD.

We can only wait to see if Roksan has given us a complete package. The speakers work beautifully, the AV5 amp is a delight. So, roll on, subwoofer and processor/pre-amp. But please don't take as long as George Lucas.

Roksan Audio Ltd, Unit 6 Northfield Industrial Estate, Beresford Avenue, Alperton, Middlesex HA0 1NW. Tel 0208 900 6801

*Note: this cartoon is justification enough for subscribing to Sky. Johnny Bravo's voice is the finest impression of Elvis Presley I've ever heard, and his every move is in Elvis' Las Vegas/karate style. Or, to use his parlance, 'Oh, Mamma!'

Along with the amplifier, Roksan supplied their full five-channel set of surround-sound speakers: four AV5 surrounds and an AV5 centre channel. It's no secret that these are made exclusively for Roksan by Spendor - and there is no Spendor-badged equivalent - but some of you might be wondering how the link was formed. Oh, ye of short memories! Not all that long ago, Roksan was part of the Verity group (now NXT), the family including Mission, Cyrus and - not least - Quad. And if you recall the luscious, sublime Quad 77-10L, you'll remember that it was made for Quad by...Spendor. Given that Roksan and Quad had desks facing each other in Huntingdon, the likelihood that Roksan knew the guys at Spendor is high. And it's a good thing, because the Roksan AV5 is a killer.

Each main speaker costs 330, with the centre-channel model costing 350. This pays for a grill with a centrally-located badge with only 20 percent of the production potential of the one with the badge at the narrow end used in the vertical models, as well as for a neat angled block arrangement below the cabinet. This fitment allows the user to place the speaker below a monitor firing upwards, mount it upside down on the ceiling, firing downward, or remove it altogether for positioning on top of a large monitor; I used it on top of a 29in Panasonic set. That feature aside, all of the units are rear-ported two-ways containing two Spendor 130mm Filled Homopolymer cone woofers flanking a VIFA TC20 20mm soft-dome tweeter; crossover point is 3.3kHz. The speakers are bi-wireable via multi-way binding posts at the back, with easily removable plugs put there in the first place because of some Belgian eunuch.

Finished in 'video grey' with a gloss black top panel and a black grille, each 8.1kg enclosure is made from damped MDF and measures 480x156x285mm (HWD), with the centre channel mounted horizontally at 480x156x285mm (WHD); the latter's angle bar adds around 50mm to the middle dimension. These are slim, sleek, shielded enclosures, and - with either stand, shelf or wall-mounting - they'll cause no domestic crises.

As you'd expect, they were 'naturals' for use with the AV5, never taxing its 80W/ch. They offer sensitivity of 88dB, an impedance of 6 ohms and maximum SPLs of 103dB. Stated frequency range is 65-20kHz (+/-3dB), but never did I feel hunger pangs for more bass. That's because these speakers kick some serious butt.

Whether using pure music or video, the AV5s were always exciting and vivid. Colorations? Who cares? We're talking , and that's a whole 'nuther thing. Admittedly, their sound - in pure music terms - favoured hot funk, Seventies disco and 'eavy metal, but so what? They were more than tolerable with subtle material, even a diet of Dino. What makes me overlook any character flaws are sublime transient attack and decay, real punch and - best of all - wall-to-wall-sound corresponding in no way to their Jodie Kidd-like frontal area. These really are optimised for A/V, unashamedly, unabashedly and missing only an on-board popcorn machine. I loved 'em.

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HTR Product Rating for Roksan Five Channel Amp

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