Intimus 4B Harmony SA review:

Intimus 4B Harmony SA

All Aperion products are only available on the company's Web site, where they're sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Shipping is free and if you're not satisfied with the speakers or subwoofer, you can return the products for free.

The speakers come with a 10-year warranty, which is twice as long as most speakers' warranties. The subwoofer's driver gets the same 10-year plan, but its amplifier is only covered for 3 years, still well above average.

The Intimus 4B Harmony SA is a 5.1 channel system, so if you're running a 6.1 or 7.1 channel home theater, you can buy additional 4B satellites for $130 each.

We put the Intimus 4B Harmony SA through our audio samples, starting with "The Day the Earth Stood Still" DVD. Special effects came hot and heavy when the giant spaceship landed in New York. The whooshing and shrieking sounds were loaded with detail. The front and rear speaker blend was fine, and the alien Klaatu's voice (Keanu Reeves) sounded perfectly human.

The gigantic spaceship's movements were accompanied by massive low rumbling bass, but we felt (literally) the ship's tremors were a bit too thick and murky. Swapping out the Bravus 8A for our reference Bravus 8D confirmed that hunch. Once replaced, the low-bass definition snapped into focus. The difference between the two subs isn't a question of how much bass they make--they're about the same--it's more about the quality of the bass, which is definitely on the side of the 8D.

We'd recommend starting with the Bravus 8A and if you think its bass is too loose, trading up to the Bravus 8D. Better yet, Aperion will pay return shipping and send the Bravus 8D out to you for free. That said, we stayed with the Bravus 8A for the duration of our listening sessions.

Moving onto the "Master and Commander" Blu-ray, the naval battle cannon blasts had good dynamic range impact. The subwoofer performed a bit better on this film, but it's not as punchy or solid sounding as the better 8-inch subs.

We didn't have any of our recent satellite and subwoofer review samples on hand to directly compare the Intimus 4B Harmony SA with the likes of the Canton Movie 150 QX ($1,090) or Energy Take Classic ($600), but we think we'd prefer either of those two systems over this Aperion.

For our two-channel evaluations we used Leonard Cohen's new "Live in London" two-disc set. It's a great-sounding recording, but the Intimus 4B satellites robbed Cohen's vocals of their natural warmth. We got around the 4B's undernourished sound by switching on the Denon receiver's Dolby Pro Logic II surround processing. The fuller-sounding 4C center channel was finally able to shine as the Pro Logic threw Cohen's vocals into that channel.

The Black Keys' hard rock revealed the speaker/subwoofer system's uneven bass. We turned up the subwoofer's volume, which helped, but the Intimus 4B Harmony SA strained when we played the Black Keys record even louder.

Summing up, we were pleased to see that Aperion maintained its high-quality fit and finish on its least expensive system, but the sound quality, while acceptable, isn't in the top rank--especially at its price point. If spending more for the smaller, but better matched, subwoofer isn't an option, either the similarly priced Canton Movie 150 QX or cheaper Energy RC-Micro or Energy Take Classic are excellent alternatives.

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