Definitive Technology CLR 2500
Unlike most Definitive Technology speakers, the C/L/R 2500 is not bipolar; instead, it has drivers only in the front. Depending on its placement, a bipolar center speaker's rear-facing drivers can annoyingly bounce sound off of the screen of a TV, especially off the hard glass of direct-view sets. Otherwise, the C/L/R speakers are much like smaller versions of the BP2002TL towers. The C/L/R 2500 uses the same mid/bass drivers and tweeter as the BP2002TL in the same D'Appolito array (developed by and named for Joe D'Appolito), with the tweeter centered between bass/midrange drivers to control dispersion. Like the BP series, the C/L/R 2500 can also be bi- or tri-amplified, and its subwoofer amp has a line-level input. The sound was clearest for us with the subwoofer level knob positioned at 12 o'clock. This shielded speaker isn't much to look at; the front and top are covered entirely with black grille cloth. For the sides of the device, you have a choice of gloss black for $799 or cherry for $899. And though this is pricey, it's not beyond reason, considering the built-in sub.
Overall, the sound was clear but not quite crystalline. The sparkle could be restored with a 1-dB treble boost. However, many home-theater systems disable the tone controls for Dolby Digital or DTS decoding--the primary modes in which a center speaker operates. The subwoofer's sound was tight and plentiful but did not go dramatically low; a rock fan could be happy with a system made of five C/L/R 2500s, but an organ freak would want to add an independent sub, crossed over very low, to fill in the bottom octave or so. As a center channel, the C/L/R 2500 integrated very smoothly with the BP2002TL towers. Because it can easily produce unusually high levels of sound for a center channel, it's an especially good choice for people who listen at loud volumes and for those with big rooms.