High-end sound system, for half the price

High-end audio can be expensive, but there are deals to be had. Take a gander at EMP Tek's nifty Limited Edition System that goes for $595.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
The Limited Edition System amplifier. EMP Tek

High-end audio can be expensive, but there are deals to be had.

Take a gander at EMP Tek's nifty Limited Edition System that goes for $595. It's a three-piece affair with a stereo tube integrated amplifier and a pair of sweet-looking bookshelf speakers.

Call me jaded, but I've heard a bunch of iPod speaker systems in that price range that sounded like glorified boom boxes. And since most of them are single-box systems they don't do much in the way of stereo separation. Yes, they make bass, but it's always bloated, thick, and boomy bass. Impressive to some at first, but its not what you'd call hi-fi sound. These iPod systems' power amp wattage is rarely specified or it's wildly exaggerated. For $600 you should be able to get a decent sounding system, and there's no such thing as a decent sounding iPod speaker for that kind of money.

The EMP Tek Limited Edition System is something else again. Its 40-watt-per-channel rating seems about right. Small enough to fit on a desktop, it's just 6.6 inches wide, 4.5 high, and 10.25 deep, and the amp has three inputs. Two are minijacks, so you can plug your iPod/MP3 player in, and there's a stereo RCA input you might use to pump the sound of your DVD or Blu-ray player through the system. The amp's two tubes are backlit with blue LEDs, which look extra cool. The amp weighs 8 pounds.

The Limited Edition System speakers. EMP Tek

EMP Tek is a sister company of speaker manufacturer RBH Sound. I've favorably reviewed a bunch of its speakers over the years. The Limited Edition System's speakers definitely look like RBHs to me. The speaker's quality parts, including a 4-inch beryllium cone woofer, is something you rarely see on budget speakers (beryllium is used for military and aerospace applications for its high stiffness to weight ratio). The speaker's 1-inch soft-dome tweeter also looks exceptional. I like that the speakers are large enough to make a big sound, they're 6.75 inches wide, 11.5 high, and 10.25 deep. The speaker weighs 12 pounds.

The Limited Edition System is sold direct by EMP Tek with a 30-day no-risk return policy. The $595 price is a limited introductory offer, the system's full retail price is $1,200.