We've reviewed a lot of speaker packages over the years, but fewer and fewer of them feature large full-size speakers. That's because the market has been migrating to ever-smaller designs. And while Aperion Audio still offers plenty of beefy, monolithic speakers, the company has a wide selection of smaller models that don't take up quite as much of your living room's real estate.
Case in point is the Intimus 4T Hybrid SD. In addition to offering Aperion's smallest ever center (the 4C) and satellite surround speakers (4B), the package includes the unique 4T tower speakers for the front left and right channels. However, "tower" is something of a misnomer here: the 34-inch tall 4Ts are a mere 5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep (sitting on bases, for better stability, that are a bit larger: 8.25 by 10). They don't have the imposing bulk we associate with most floor-standing speakers--and they obviate the need for stands or finding dedicated shelf space. Rounding out the system is the 8-inch Bravus subwoofer (which has received some design improvements since we've seen it last). The system costs $1,569 at Aperion Audio's Web site.
All of the Intimus 4T Hybrid SD's speakers share the same 4-inch woven fiberglass woofer and 1-inch silk dome tweeter. The 4T tower and 4C center speaker feature a pair of the 4-inch woofers while the 4B satellite has just one. We noted that when setting up the entire Intimus 4T Hybrid SD system the five speakers' tonal matching was exceptionally good. That manifests itself with superior surround imaging. Likewise, the advantage of the towers' dual woofer design was far from subtle. The speakers' all-metal binding posts provide a secure connection with bare wire, spades, or banana plugs.
The 4C center speaker is just 5.33 inches tall by 12.8 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep, and the 4B is even more compact--it's 8.75 inches tall by 5.33 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep. The solid feel and build quality of the cabinets is extremely impressive. Aperion's real cherry wood veneers and high gloss black finishes are on par with high-end speakers costing more than double than Aperion's prices. All of the speakers have removable black cloth grilles. Floor stands as well as wall and ceiling mounts are available for all Aperion satellite and center speakers.
The Bravus 8D subwoofer
The Bravus 8D subwoofer has an 8-inch aluminum woofer on each side of its cabinet (both covered with removable black grilles) and a built-in 150-watt amplifier. The 33-pound sub comes with four metal "spike" feet and a set of pointy rubber cones. The subwoofer is 13 inches tall by 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep.
The cabinet is constructed of 0.75-inch thick high density fiberboard, cross-braced for additional rigidity. Connectivity options include stereo and LFE line-level inputs, plus speaker-level inputs. The sophisticated subwoofer has Music, Movie, and Game modes, each of which can be customized beyond the factory defaults via a small LCD screen built into its front panel. Adjustments can be made via a directional pad next to the screen or the included credit card-size remote control. Having a remote control for your subwoofer is a great convenience because we often like to adjust the sub's volume for different sources, but it's a pain getting off the couch to do so.
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.