NHT Verve series
Benicia, California-based Now Hear This (NHT) has a long history of building affordable high-performance speakers. In recent years, the company successfully moved upmarket with a remarkably innovative series of products, including the Xd integrated electronics and speaker system, and a high-end surround processor and power amplifier. But with the introduction of the Verve series, NHT is returning to the broader marketplace of four-figure surround sound speaker systems, and these are specifically designed to partner with flat-screen TVs. The $2,000 Verve IV package was conceived, first and foremost, as a system--NHT engineers carefully honed the designs of the two different sizes of satellites and the subwoofer to work synergistically. The unusual subwoofer crams two 10-inch drivers into a "flat" design that's 24 inches wide and a mere 7.7 inches deep. The satellite speakers, meanwhile, are bona fide three-way designs with separate woofer, midrange and tweeter drivers. Since the vast majority of packaged speaker systems rely on two-way speakers, our expectations for the Verve's sound were understandably high.
The NHT Verve series is available in at least four configurations (see below), each of which is comprised of the same basic speakers. The NHT Verve IV, reviewed here, is a six-piece (5.1) system that includes three V Large satellites, two V Small sats, and the V Woofer. The V Large isn't all that big--it's 15.5 inches tall--and the V Small isn't so tiny--it's 10.75 inches high. NHT strongly recommends using the V Large speakers in the front left, center, right positions, and the V smalls only as surround speakers.
The V Woofer's stylish, piano-black cabinet is constructed out of medium-density fiberboard. The 36.5-pound sub's "slab" shape may make for a more decor friendly footprint compared to more typical cube designs. Input and power connectors are located on the bottom panel to provide a clean appearance--and since the volume control is up front, it's easy to adjust. To achieve the smoothest blend with the V satellites, NHT recommends placing the V Woofer on the same plane/wall as the front three speakers. To keep things simple, the V Woofer lacks an internal crossover--the ideal bass management/crossover frequency is 100 hertz, which is offered on almost every A/V receiver.
The V Large and V Small speakers are three-way designs with a 0.75-inch Mylar dome tweeter, 3-inch midrange and 4.5-inch woofer. The V Large uses two woofers and the V Small uses just one. Both speakers feature an unusual "coaxial" tweeter/midrange design that places the tweeter directly in front of the midrange. The design is said to maximize the speaker's dispersion so listeners sitting in different parts of the room hear the same tonal balance. The speakers' heavy-duty spring post connectors accept bare wire, spades, or banana plugs. Those connectors are pretty robust, but in a $2,000 speaker system we expect even sturdier five-way binding posts.
The subwoofer's twin 10-inch aluminum woofers are powered by a 200-watt amplifier; connectivity is limited to one RCA input.
Anyone who's looking to expand to a 6.1- or 7.1-channel system can pick up extra V Large and V Small satellite speakers for $240 and $200 each, respectively. The satellites are powerful enough to fill even fairly large rooms (up to 500 square feet) with sound. If you love bass--or your room is huge--you can add extra V Woofers for $880 each. The 120+ pound shipping weight of the six-piece Verve Home Theater system attests to its build quality. However, we were surprised to note that NHT does not include speaker wire or an interconnect cable for the subwoofer (most packaged systems do).