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Editor's note: This system was formerly known as the Aperion Intimus 532 system with 10-inch subwoofer. Aside from the name change to Intimus 633 Concert, the system is otherwise identical.
Aperion Audio's recipe for success couldn't be more straightforward: offer state-of-the-art customer service, build great-sounding speakers and sell them direct, via the Internet. By eliminating all of the middlemen's profits, Aperion offers a level of build quality rarely achieved at this price range. A couple of years ago, we were wowed by the sound (and the gorgeous looks) of the company's 522 bookshelf speaker. The company has tweaked it slightly and rechristened it as the 532. While messing with success is always a dicey proposition, we're happy to report the "newly voiced" Intimus surround system is not only as impressive as its predecessor, the sound quality is actually slightly improved. Just keep in mind that Aperion's Web site lets you build your own system, offering the 532 Intimus speaker in 5.1-, 6.1-, and 7.1-channel configurations, with your choice of 8-, 10-, or 12-inch subwoofers. This review and the accompanying Editors' Choice award apply only to the 5.1 system with the 10-inch sub--we felt it was the best combination of sound quality and value for the money--although we also loved the sound of the system with the 8- and 12-inch models. How large a subwoofer you need depends on your room size and your taste for big bass. If you have the taste and the space for full-size bookshelf speakers, the Intimus won't disappoint.
The Aperion Intimus system we configured comprised four 532-LR bookshelf/satellite speakers and one 532-C center speaker. (In fact, the center speaker is basically identical to the sats; if you're looking for a dedicated center channel, configure a system that includes Aperion's 533-VAC.) Each of the 532s is 11.5 inches tall, and since they're fabricated from rock-solid, 1-inch-thick high-density fiberboard, they weigh a substantial 12.6 pounds each. Adjustable wall brackets and metal floor stands are available.
Aperion lets you choose from one of three subwoofers: the S-8APR, the , or the S-12. Your taste and the size of your room will dictate which model will light your fire. We opted for the S-10, which measures 17.5 by 13.25 by 19 inches and tips the scales at a hefty 52 pounds. Both the subwoofers and the 532 speakers are available in your choice of real--not vinyl--cherrywood or high-gloss black finishes.
Aperion's first-class presentation can't be beat--the speakers and the sub are individually packed and coddled in velvet bags. Aperion even sends along a Love Your Speakers polishing kit to keep your ensemble like new.
The Aperion Intimus 532-LR satellites sport custom-built, 5.25-inch midrange woofers; 1-inch coated-fabric dome tweeters; and a new crossover technology called HD-X3. The system is said to produce better sound, greater efficiency, and an easier load for amplifiers than the crossovers used in previous generations of Aperion speakers (that is, the now-extinct 522s). The new HD-X3 models work with a wider range of receivers. Solid brass binding posts provide a secure connection with speaker cables.
The S-10 sub has a beefy 200-watt amplifier and a 10-inch woofer. The cabinet is constructed of 1-inch high-density fiberboard that's cross-braced for additional rigidity. Connectivity options include line-level and speaker-level inputs/outputs, but we noted the lack of a direct, (unfiltered) subwoofer input that eases setup chores.
Aperion is so confident that you'll love its speakers, the company sells them direct on its Web site with a 30-day, money-back return policy. UPS Ground shipping is free--including return shipping if you're not satisfied--and Aperion doesn't charge sales tax in the continental United States. Furthermore, speakers are covered by a limited 10-year warranty, and subwoofer amps are covered for 3 years. What's not to like?
As previously, the Aperion Intimus 532 Concert is basically the predecessor model (the 522) upgraded with a new crossover technology that Aperion's dubbed HD-X3. To get a handle on the sound of the "newly voiced" 532-LR satellite speaker, we compared it directly with an older 522 satellite. We're not about to claim we heard day-and-night differences, but the longer we listened to both speakers, the more we were impressed with the new design. Mind you, the 522 was pretty darn good; it's just that the new speaker is fuller and sweeter, so it sounds a little bigger. Switching back to the 522D pushed vocals forward in the mix, but their sound was leaner and had less body. The treble range is also more refined and better integrated on the 532-LR. The improvements were audible over DVDs and CDs.
The Aperion Intimus's low-distortion sound had the assurance of a much larger system. On the Frailty DVD, Bill Paxton stars as a demented killer whose handiwork with an ax is always accompanied by shrieking Psycho-esque violins. That and this system's laser-sharp three-dimensional soundstaging had us jumping out of our seats. We pushed the Aperions really hard, but their unflappable demeanor never faltered; even the heat of The Thin Red Line's most bombastic battle scenes, dialogue remained clean and clear. The sound is so pure that we found ourselves playing DVDs much louder than usual. Sure, we backed down on the dBs for late-night listening sessions, and the system still sounded incredibly right.
The Intimus system was equally adept with music--the Queens of the Stone Age's crunchy guitars, pounding drums, and rippling bass lines were felt as much as heard. The sub's down-low throbbed with distinction but didn't boom or bloat. Its keen definition on Moby's Play CD was a special treat--details and textures we never heard before jumped out of the mix. This system can party like few sub/sat systems.
We next played a range of acoustic jazz CDs; the sound was immediate and very up front, and we sometimes wished the balance was slightly more laid back. The Intimus sats are significantly less efficient than average, so they need 50-plus watts per channel to sound right--better to avoid matching them up with bright or aggressive-sounding receivers. Polk's sweet-sounding package might be a better way to go for owners of low-power electronics. That said, the versatile Aperion Intimus 532 Concert 5.1 system will appeal to a wide range of buyers.