Cheap, small, sounds great: pick two. That's how home audio almost always works. We say almost, because the Energy Take Classic 5.1 is one of those rare products that's seemingly without compromise. The speakers are compact (although not tiny like the Boston Acoustics SoundWare SX 5.1 system), but their sound quality is outstanding, so you won't regret opting for small speakers. The speakers also look fantastic, finished in an elegant piano black that belies the system's budget price. The official list price for the Take Classic 5.1 may be $600, but it's widely available online for $400. There's no catch, the Energy Take Classic 5.1 is just an incredible value.
Our sole caveat is that if all you're concerned about is the best sound quality on a budget (you pick "cheap" and "sounds great"), the Pioneer SP-PK21BS is the winner. But its massive speakers just won't work for most people. The Energy Take Classic is the most perfectly balanced 5.1 speaker system we've seen, making it an easy pick for our Editors' Choice Award in the category.
The speakers' mini five-way binding posts all accept cables terminating in banana plugs, bare wire ends, spades, or pins. As the speakers weigh just 2.9 pounds, wall mounting should be a snap. You can use either the speakers' keyhole slot or the 0.25-inch threaded insert, the latter for use with OmniMount wall brackets.
Before we removed the center speaker's grille, we assumed it was a woofer-tweeter-woofer design, but it's not. The center speaker uses the same tweeter and single midbass driver as the satellite, but with horizontally oriented drivers instead. The speaker measures 4.1 by 10.25 by 4.1 inches and weighs 3.2 pounds.
The 200-watt sub has a front port along with a blue LED light that indicates that the unit is powered up. The sub features a down-firing 8-inch injection-molded woofer. The driver has Energy's Ribbed Elliptical Surround--the rubber "rim" that surrounds the woofer cone has molded-in ribs--which Energy claims lowers distortion and allows the subwoofer to play louder than more-conventional designs.