Both the BP7001sc and the C/L/R 3000 provide a variety of hookup choices. Besides the subwoofer input options (line- or speaker-level), the tweeter and woofer of both models can be biwired by removing jumpers connecting the two sets of binding posts. Of course, you could simplify setup by selecting "no" for the subwoofer option in your receiver or preamp's setup menu and running only one set of wires to each speaker. That way your receiver sums the subwoofer/LFE channel with any full-range signals that it sends out.
Balancing built-in subwoofers on the three front speakers seemed like an intimidating prospect at first, but in practice it turned out to be fairly easy. In my processor's setup menu, I selected five "large" speakers plus subwoofer and used a Y-connector to route the subwoofer/LFE output to the front left/right towers. I then tweaked bass levels using the processor's subwoofer-output control setting for the towers and the back-panel subwoofer volume control for the C/L/R 3000, which was hooked up using only the speaker-level connection.
Aside from the obvious space-saving advantages, a benefit of having subwoofers built into the main speakers is that you won't have to deal with subwoofer placement - or worse, misplacement, which can cause the bass to sound overly boomy or lean. I found the Def Tech system's bass performance to be extremely smooth on most material, but settling on an ultimate bass level proved more tricky than with systems I've used that had one separate sub.
Although I was eager to listen to multichannel SACDs, I limited my first tests to stereo tracks with little more than male vocals and simple instrumentation. The intimate manner in which "Taphead" from Talk Talk's Laughing Stock was recorded makes it sound like there's an enormous head singing in the room. The BP7001sc speakers cast a tall, wide image that was nonetheless locked dead center between the speakers. Moving on to the more distant-sounding "King of Bohemia" from Richard Thompson's Mirror Blue, the Definitive Tech towers accurately conveyed the space in which he performed, positioning his voice a few steps back and slightly to the right.
Bluegrass and old Hot Tuna fans interested in surround sound music would do well to pick up Jorma Kaukonen's Blue Country Heart SACD. As heard on the Definitive Tech system, the guitarist's slightly raspy voice sounded warm, seamless, and natural coming from the system's front speakers. Acoustic instruments in this multichannel recording came through with striking clarity and presence: I could almost feel the gritty texture of a fiddle's bowed strings as its sound glided around me, and the plucked guitars and mandolin were clear and distinct. The well-defined notes of the stand-up bass, meanwhile, let me know that the BP7001sc towers could also deliver a tuneful, tight low end.
The pure sound quality of Jorma's surround sound outing was also in evidence on classical SACDs. The Definitive Tech system did a great job conveying the full, sweet tones of massed strings and woodwinds in John Adams's The Chairman Dances from the opera Nixon in China, as performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Norrlands Opera. At the same time, it delivered the extended highs and dynamic snap of the percussion instruments - sonic elements that splash around the room like light colors in an Impressionist painting and drive the dense composition forward. Although the surround channels in the recording provided little more than ambience, the BPVX surrounds helped the presentation by meshing with the BP7001sc towers to create a seamless sound field from front to rear.
Moving on to discs with pictures, the punchy rap soundtrack of the 8 Mile DVD sounded awesome on the Def Tech speakers. The system proved up to the task of reproducing the ambience of the metal-stamping shop where aspiring rapper B-rabbit (Eminem) works, creating a brutal industrial swirl along with thunderous bass when a machine stamped out a set of steel bumpers. And watching the final rap battle keyed me in to the advantage of having a center speaker with a built-in sub. When the deep-voiced MC shouted out to the crowd, the C/L/R 3000 gave a convincing sense of vocals coming from a PA in a packed club, loud microphone pops and all.
It was a stretch to go from the urban grit of 8 Mile to the digital-enhanced fantasy world of George Lucas, but I wanted to see how the system would hold up on Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones. The Speeder Chase scene in Chapter 7 is a literal showcase of sound effects. I found that the Definitive Tech speakers injected life into the artificial environment Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi careened through, conveying an exciting sense of continuous motion as their vessel blazed through skybound traffic. And in a subsequent scene where the assassin they'd been chasing is killed, the sound of a poison dart as it zipped from high above my shoulder to the center of the screen was frighteningly real.
If you're looking to take your audio rig to the next level and want to check out some serious home theater speakers, Definitive Technology's BP7001sc-based system demands your attention. It might cost twice as much as many of the speaker systems we review, but when you factor in its great performance with both movie soundtracks and music, solid construction, and the substantial powered subwoofers built into the front towers - which would normally cost a couple grand all by themselves - the price seems more than fair.
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