Also on the back but hidden by the grille cloth is a rear-facing array consisting of a tweeter between two bass/midrange drivers, duplicates of the setup on the front. This driver arrangement, called a D'Appolito array, minimizes floor and ceiling bounce by providing broad horizontal dispersion while limiting vertical dispersion.
Bipolar Isn't Just a Mental Disorder
Like most Definitive Technology speakers, the BP2002TLs are bipolar, with their front and rear drivers in phase; the rear drivers push outward and pull inward at the same time as the front ones. This differs from dipole speakers, which have out-of-phase front and back waves. The bipolar design gives speakers a fatter, almost omnidirectional sound dispertion, whereas dipoles project sound in a figure-eight pattern--all to the front and back and nothing to the sides.
To reduce diffraction and bulk, the cabinets are narrow, with the 12-inch subwoofer firing from the side. To reduce the risk of tipping, the speakers come with spikes and with outriggers that broaden the speaker's footprint in the back; even so, they might not be ideal for homes with deep carpets and rambunctious tykes.
The cabinet's complex design has separate compartments for both the front and rear driver arrays and a third for the subwoofer. It's also well made and well damped; knock on the thick walls and you'll hear almost nothing.
By building in the powered sub, Definitive Technology does more than just ensure plenty of bass; it also takes the low-frequency load off your main amplifier, ensuring that any decent receiver can drive them cheerfully.
How They Sound
We tried the BP2002TLs all by themselves both in stereo and as part of a 5.1-channel system with the matching BPX surrounds and a C/L/R 2500 center channel. On Delos's 5.1-channel music DVD, DVD Spectacular, the Definitive system clarified the acoustical differences between the recording halls used for the different tracks. On action films such as Eraser, the speakers brought home the impact and drama with a slam. (You won't be driven from your block by playing action films at midnight, but your next-door neighbors will surely hate you.) On the other hand, music--even voice and piano--sounded natural. The midrange was a little on the warm side, and the very lowest bass notes (those that you would find only on a few recordings) could have been stronger.
A single BP2002TL speaker runs $1,099 in black or $1,199 in cherry. The full 5.1-channel Definitive Technology setup we auditioned carries a suggested price of just less than $4,000, certainly more than most folks are willing to consider spending. But the more you listen, the more of a bargain this system will seem to be.