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Aperion Intimus 534-SS Dipole/Bipole Surround Speaker review: Aperion Intimus 534-SS Dipole/Bipole Surround Speaker

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The Good Wedge-shaped surround speaker; switchable bipole and dipole settings work well for music or movies; gorgeous furniture-grade finishes; risk-free 30-day in-home trial.

The Bad Pricey.

The Bottom Line This elegantly designed surround speaker produces a beautifully ambient sound field.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

Aperion Intimus 522D-SS (cherry)

Aperion's original--and still outrageously good--Intimus speaker package uses identical satellites for the front and rear positions. That setup still works well enough, but the company has recently updated the Intimus line to include a dedicated center speaker, the 522D-VAC, as well as the 522D-SS surround speaker we're reviewing here. The surrounds retail for $490 per pair, direct from Aperion.

From the luscious real cherrywood or high-gloss black finish to the heavy-duty wall-mount fittings and robust all-metal speaker wire binding posts, craftsmanship is evident in every aspect of the 522D-SS's design. Each speaker features two 5.25-inch woofers and two 1-inch tweeters. Even the cloth speaker grilles demonstrate remarkable attention to detail: instead of haphazardly stapling grilles to a cheap frame, Aperion neatly glues them on, and the back of the frame is gently contoured to provide clearance for the woofers.

While regular box-shaped speakers radiate sound straight ahead, the 522D-SS projects sound out to the sides in a bipole or dipole pattern. We like both modes, and the front-mounted switch makes it easy to experiment with each of them. When we played "Duane Work" from the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's new SACD Guitar Heroes, the sound was clearly more lifelike in the bipole setting. The tune begins with dueling guitars in the surround channels, and the bipole option produced a guitar sound that closely matched the front Aperion speakers. By contrast, the dipole setting was more diffuse, so it was much harder to localize--the guitars sounded smaller and more distant. That's no good for music, but the dipole setting's diffuse sound suits ambient, atmospheric surround effects on DVD movies to a T. Use the 522D-SS as rear speakers in a 6.1-channel configuration, for instance, and the dipole operation will be an asset, producing a noticeably more immersive and dispersed surround effect.

In the final analysis, the Intimus 522D-SS is a superlative surround speaker. It's a great match for the other fine speakers in Aperion's refreshed Intimus line.

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