These speakers' laid-back demeanor is easy on the ears: they never "throw" the sound at you. The treble balance is so smooth that it may strike some listeners as too smooth or even a bit dull. That will depend on what you're used to, but we loved the way the IL40 unraveled the intricacies of soundtracks and CDs in a totally unforced way. If you're searching for gentle full-range speakers to tame bright electronics, the IL40 may be the ideal match. These speakers reached nearly as deep as a subwoofer and were very punchy.
We couldn't wait to see what the IL40 would do with blues belter Shemekia Copeland's aptly titled CD, Wicked. Copeland's big, big voice had plenty of room to soar--NHT's well-regarded SuperTwo towers were nowhere as open and natural sounding as a pair of IL40s. In addition, the IL40's imaging is very good.
The IL40 speakers are also champs at depicting the drama of home theater. The entire Interlude ensemble--the IL36c center, the IL100s sub, and the IL10 bookshelf speakers in the rear--didn't even come close to losing their collective cool during the midair collision on the Fight Club DVD. The scene goes from whisper quiet to scare-the-neighbors loud, then back to a whisper. Lesser speakers can't keep pace with those extreme dynamics, but the Interlude system coasted through.
No doubt about it, these 40-inch-tall floor-standing speakers are imposing beasts. The maple-, cherry-, or black-colored vinyl-wrap finishes look sharp, and you have a choice of standard platinum grilles or blue or burgundy replacements, which are sold separately. That selection should keep even the most decor-conscious audiophiles happy.
Infinity designed the ultrarigid (three times stiffer than titanium) CMMD to deliver low-distortion sound. The IL40's extra thick 1.5-inch front baffle provides a solid foundation for the CMMD drivers, while the rest of the cabinet is constructed from 0.75-inch particleboard. Infinity covers all the bases, literally: the company supplies spiked feet and nylon dome spike caps to protect hardwood or tiled floors. The solid-metal bi-wire connectors accept bananas, spades, or bare wires.
For this kind of dough you can buy towers with built-in subs from a number of manufacturers, but most of them won't outrun the prodigious bass capabilities of the IL40. And even if they could, we haven't heard any tower speakers as transparent and true as the $998-per-pair list price IL40.