Infinity's stylish subwoofer/satellite package, the Modulus, has a remarkably versatile design. The satellite speakers can be shelved or wall-mounted with their integral bases and brackets. The potent subwoofer not only delivers tremendous bass impact for music and movie soundtracks, it can also be tuned to nullify a typical room's acoustic anomalies. The Modulus is one of the best-sounding speaker systems we've ever heard, and it certainly sits at the high end of its category. For this much cash (it's listed at $1,699), you could put together a decent system of matching individual speakers, but you'd have to do a lot more homework. The six-piece Modulus system comes in an attractive, soft-to-the-touch finish with metal trim: charcoal-black matte with sumptuous bronze-toned trim or platinum with pewter trim. Each 11-inch-tall MS-1 sat is shaped like an upside-down teardrop and features a clever integral wall mount/stand, while the 20.75-inch-wide, football-shaped center-channel speaker is a totally unique design.
The 42-pound Modulus sub isn't one of those easy-to-hide miniboxes you associate with smaller speaker systems. It measures an imposing 14.5 inches wide by 19.25 inches deep, and it stands 16.5 inches tall. Maybe that's why it has the oomph to fill even fairly large rooms (up to 600 square feet or so) with feel-it-in-your-guts bass.
Infinity's designers also cooked up a highly adaptable bracket system (a $150 option) that slings the front left, center, and right speakers over a 32- to 55-inch TV. The bracket hides the wires and elevates the left and right speakers to the same height as the center speaker, so it sounds good and looks cool. When we peeled off the grilles and took a gander at the Modulus's drivers, we were impressed. All the speakers, including the sub, employ bonded ceramic/aluminum/ceramic-sandwich drivers that are said to minimize distortion compared with conventional metal, plastic, and paper woofers. The sats' driver complement includes a 0.75-inch tweeter and a 4-inch woofer, while the center speaker deploys two 4-inch woofers and a matching tweeter. Quality is evident in thoughtful design touches such as the sats' gold-plated, all-metal speaker connectors.
The innovations don't stop with cutting-edge driver design. The 12-inch, 300-watt sub features Infinity's Room Adaptive Bass Optimization System (RABOS). This proprietary system uses a special parametric equalizer to tame your room's fundamental bass peaks, which can cause sloppy or boomy bass performance.
Fortunately, if you already use your A/V receiver's crossover, you can bypass the sub's fixed-frequency 100Hz crossover. The sub has both speaker and line-level inputs. The Modulus's articulate resolution shone on CDs such as Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and Roseanne Cash's 10 Song Demo. The sound was transparently clear and far more vibrant than on our Energy Take 5.2 system, but the Modulus was just a touch thin in the midrange. Despite our best efforts to integrate the satellites and the subwoofer, we never quite achieved a perfectly smooth transition. Over the long term, however, we found that shortcoming easy to live with. The tweeter was refined and pure, never veering over to tizzy or coarse.
The succulent bass line that kicks off the new White Stripes CD, Elephant, positively erupted from the Modulus subwoofer. And that was before we used the RABOS. Our room always has smooth bass, but it was slightly better after we instituted the adjustments. In more problematic rooms, the improvements will be dramatic.
One thing is for sure: The Modulus didn't inhibit the sonic fury of the Pearl Harbor DVD. The battle sequences were palpably alive, and while the Modulus falls short compared to more-expensive, full-sized systems in loudness and dynamic range, it will likely satisfy most listeners. The subwoofer delivered the sort of supple thrust you get from only the best of its kind. We also enjoyed the surround envelopment on the Bram Stoker's Dracula DVD. The disc's creepy, fluttering effects filled our listening room, and the blend of the front and rear speakers was excellent.
Comparison with the excellent Aperion Intimus 5.1 system is in order. The Modulus's sats have a smoother, more refined treble, and its 12-inch sub has significantly greater control and definition. The somewhat more affordable Intimus counters with its ability to play more loudly without strain, its smoother sat/sub blending, and the fact that you can buy it direct with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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