The menu lets you tweak parametric equalization to help deal with difficult room acoustic problems. That's nice, but unlike other subs with auto EQ, the Bravus' EQ is completely manual. You really have to know what you're doing and use a SPL meter (such as Radio Shack's 33-4050) and a CD or DVD with test tones to get anywhere with the sub's room tuning potential. On the bright side, Aperion fixed two annoyances we saw in an earlier version of the Bravus 8D: the LCD screen is now far more legible, and the built-in directional pad is far more responsive.
Configuration and warranty details
Aperion products are only available on the company's Web site, where they're sold with a 30 day, money back guarantee. If you're not satisfied with the speakers or subwoofer, Aperion will pay for the return shipping. Also noteworthy: the speakers come with a 10-year warranty--that's twice as long as most speakers' warranties.
The Intimus 4T Hybrid SD is a 5.1-channel system, so if you running a 6.1- or 7.1-channel home theater you'll need to buy additional 4B satellites for $130 each. Aperion's upgrade from the Intimus 4T Hybrid SD, the Intimus 4T Grand SD, replaces the rear satellites with 4T towers (that is: four 4T minitowers, one 4C center channel, and one Bravus 8D subwoofer). That bumps the price by $400 to $1,959 for the 5.1 channel system. We think it might be worthwhile if you play a fair amount of multichannel music on SACD or DVD-Audio--or now, Blu-ray. Also, using full-range surround speakers can sometimes provide a more satisfying home theater experience.
I started listening to the svelte 4T towers in stereo with the CD soundtrack to the film Perfume. The orchestral score had the weight and full-bodied dimensionality I expect from towers double the size of the 4Ts. We briefly compared the 4Ts with the 5B satellite speakers found on the Aperion Intimus 5B Harmony SD. The 4T's larger size was immediately obvious--the minitowers' sound was bigger with a richer balanced midrange.
A cappella music from The Persuasion Sing the Beatles CD further proved the 4T's midrange was definitely up to snuff. John Mellencamp's Life, Death, Love and Freedom CD rocked pretty well, up to a point. On their own, the speakers can only play so loud; but beyond a certain volume level we heard them straining. Switching the receiver over to Dolby Pro Logic IIx surround helped, and then we could play the system loud enough to satisfy our lust for volume.
Moving to Shakira's The Oral Fixation Tour Blu-ray, we immediately noted the Intimus 4T Hybrid SD's surround speakers were doing a great job creating a room filling sound. The front-to-back imaging was way above par, so we heard the audience cheers from the sides of the room between the front and rear speakers.
We finished up with the Kingdom of Heaven Blu-ray Disc. The little center speaker didn't have the cramped and closed-in sound we associate with small centers--not one bit. Male and female voices were naturally balanced. The desert sandstorm sequences whipped up a frenzy, swirling sound across all the channels, and the Intimus 4T Hybrid SD seamless imaging put us in the midst of the action. The swordfights' metallic clangs and clashes demonstrated the virtues of Aperion's 1-inch tweeters.
The Intimus 4T Hybrid SD is a hard system to fault. Its compact dimensions should make for a fine fit in most rooms and decors, and the sound is fully up to Aperion's high standards. All in all, its nearly $1,600 asking price is an absolute bargain considering the quality of speaker system you're getting. We highly recommend it.
Editors' Note: This review has been updated to note the difference in sizes between the 4T speaker's body and its larger base.