MUSIC & MOVIE PERFORMANCE
I started my audition with Justin Townes Earle's Midnight at the Movies. This rising young star in the country scene exemplifies what Americana music is all about: honest songs with simple instrumentation and dreamy lyrics. Like the rest of the album, the title track has a live feel with a wide-open sound-clearly the product of room microphones, as well as touches of old-fashioned plate and spring reverbs. (The AKG spring reverb is particularly near and dear to my heart.) That kind of ambiance can be hard to reproduce, but the 4Bs properly conveyed it, proving the quality of the soft-dome tweeters.
With all my painstaking crossover adjustments, the amazingly bassy sound on Midnight at the Movies proved mainly intact on the system. For example, the upright bass and kick drum on most songs came across as both huge-sounding and acoustically independent-evidence of a good blend between sats and sub.
One track in particular, the up-tempo "Halfway to Jackson," is jam-packed with crisp musical detail. The guitar licks sounded as clean as whistles on the 4Bs. (In fact, this album sounded so good on these speakers that I would bet it was mixed on small studio monitors with a sonic signature not unlike that of these Aperions.)
Upping the ante, I turned to classical music-the supreme test for any speaker system. Specifically, I auditioned Herbert von Karajan: Memorial Concert on Blu-ray Disc. Recorded in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna with Seji Ozawa leading the Berlin Philharmonic and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist, the 5.1 PCM soundtrack on the disc is sumptuous. (One of the best classical recordings I have heard, I've added it to my roster of reference music discs.) The Aperion system did not disappoint. Listening to Beethoven's Violin Concerto, there was an unmistakable sense of symphonic lushness, but the solo violin still soared with clarity. And with the surround speakers matching the front pair, the tonality of the hall ambience was constant all around. A case could be made here for dipole surrounds, but I can't claim to have been bothered by hot spots from these direct-radiating models. The subwoofer, meanwhile performed well for a small-driver/cabinet system, sounding musically solid with low brass and percussion.
For movies, I settled in with some popcorn and the Blu-ray disc of Quantum of Solace, the second installment of the reenergized Bond franchise. The vigorous engine sounds of Bond's Aston Martin DBS are expertly recorded and mixed, and the satellites handled the horsepower nicely right up until their acoustic output limit. Not surprisingly, the sound started to tighten up at that loud level. The Film's boat chase and aerial dogfight scenes were also well reproduced. But in this case, I felt that dipoles would have provided greater immersion. Dialogue intelligibility is paramount when watching movies, and the 4C passed this test easily, even with that dialogue delivered amid high background distraction in the Quantum of Solace soundtrack. Off-axis response was fairly typical for a horizontally arrayed center speaker, with minor lobing evident.
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