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Aperion Intimus 533-VAC Center Channel Speaker review:

Aperion Intimus 533-VAC Center Channel Speaker

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The Good Three-way center speaker; delivers even sound for large groups of listeners; gorgeous furniture-grade finishes; risk-free 30-day in-home trial.

The Bad It's bulkier and heavier than a lot of center speakers.

The Bottom Line Aperion's three-way center speaker sounds great, even for listeners sitting off to the sides.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 8.0

The VAC in Aperion's 522D-VAC center-channel speaker stands for vertical array center, but one glance at the speaker reveals its distinctly horizontal orientation. What gives? The moniker refers to the vertical arrangement of this speaker's midrange and tweeter. The 522D-VAC retails for $280, direct from Aperion.

The 19-inch-wide by 7.4-inch-tall speaker weighs a hefty 20 pounds and is available in a real cherry wood or a gorgeous high-gloss black finish. The design is loaded with innovative details. Aperion's DiAural crossover is designed to produce less distortion than conventional designs. It directs high frequencies to the 1-inch tweeter, midrange frequencies to the 4-inch midrange driver, and--you guessed it--bass frequencies to the two 5-inch woofers. The beefy all-metal speaker-wire connectors exude strength.

To assess the vertical array's effectiveness, we played our favorite test discs' "pink noise" tracks, and determined that, yes, the 522D-VAC's wide dispersion sound and flat tonal balance were unaffected by our position on the couch. Some centers sound correct only for the listeners seated in a centrally located sweet spot; everyone sitting farther to the left or right may be hearing a brighter or duller sound. With the 522D-VAC, everybody hears the same sound.

The only real drawback of the Intimus 522D-VAC is its large size; this isn't a diminutive little "lifestyle" satellite speaker that fades into the background or mounts easily to the wall. Owners of flat-panel or thin DLP and LCD rear-projection TVs especially will want to carefully consider their decor options before committing to this Aperion center.

That said, the 522D-VAC is an ideal center speaker for serious home-theater buffs. It rounds out a surround system anchored by the matching Intimus 522D-PT powered towers and 522D-SS surrounds.

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