This is one system that clearly benefits from having a receiver that lets you select individual crossover points for each channel. I'm an advocate of using as much of the bass extension that each speaker can muster. In this case, I ended up getting the smoothest balance with the crossover on my Outlaw Audio 1070 receiver set to 60 Hz for the mains, 80 Hz for the surrounds, and 100 Hz for the center. Without this flexibility, 80 Hz all around would be a good compromise.
Dispersion was especially good, and I found the HS 460s weren't all that fussy about placement. The bass did lose a little definition if the speakers were too close to the front wall, so I ended up pulling them about 18 inches into the room. The center channel sat close to the wall on a stand under my projection screen, with the subwoofer about a foot from the wall between the left and center speakers. As usual, the surround speakers went up high against the wall to the sides of the listening seat. Even though they have a rear-firing bass port, the HS 60s can be wall-mounted due to standoffs on the speaker's rear panel that prevent it from sitting totally flush. There's also a keyhole to assist in mounting.
This is a lively-sounding system that has a fine ability to resolve a sonic image with good depth and focus. When I used the HS 460s by themselves to play Clark Terry's One on One, the sound was open and detailed, although on balance I clearly preferred the added warmth and midbass punch when I brought the sub into the mix.
While they do use soft dome tweeters, the 460s tend to leave the upper-midrange and lower-treble frequencies a tad exposed, particularly when playing crunchy-sounding modern recordings like Velvet Revolver's Libertad. With surround music recordings - such as PentaTone's 4.0-channel SACD of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, as played by Werner Haas and conducted by Eliahu Inbal - I was struck by how well the surround channels matched the mains tonally, creating a coherent sense of space. Meanwhile, the ultra-deep bass of Béla Fleck's Flight of the Cosmic Hippo was certainly there, although the 12HO lacked the chest-crushing power of some bigger (and more expensive) subwoofers.
Dialogue clarity was quite good on Ice Age: The Meltdown - and in its center-channel role, the HS 225 continued to work well off-axis despite the relatively high crossover between woofers and tweeter. As with any good system designed to a price point, the errors here have more to do with what's missing. For the Horizons, this means you lose a little bit of the sparkle at the very highest frequencies, and you don't quite get all of the dynamics and midbass punch possible with a more ambitious rig. I also tried plugging in the 350-watt-per-channel Halcro DM70 power amp (a ridiculous price mismatch), just to be sure that the lower-powered Outlaw wasn't the limiting factor.
As with multichannel music, surround envelopment for movies was particularly good, and the plane-crash scene in Fight Club had the whole cabin whizzing around my room. In Cars, the varying sense of sonic space as you go from scene to scene also came across well. All told, the sound was comfortable and easy to listen to over the long haul - good qualities for any system you plan to listen to on a daily basis.
While most trendy, style-conscious audio gear puts the emphasis on form over function, Boston Acoustics has used its decades of creating high-value speakers to put performance back into the equation. The unfussy nature and comfortable sound of the Horizon series, while not a full-tilt high-end solution, should appeal not only to value-conscious audiophiles but also to many first-timers who might otherwise be listening through a pair of iPod earbuds.
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