I started my double feature with The Da Vinci Code, a very serious movie with an absurd premise. Chapter 20 is a good test of dialogue and ambience: The center channel carries dry dialogue, front left and right have heavily reverberated dialogue, and the surrounds convey room ambience. Dialogue intelligibility from the Take Classic center speaker was crisp and concise, with good detail - almost too much so, since the unnatural change in tone in the overdubbed line "You're the guardian of the Grail" was clearly audible. The surrounds provided a good sense of cathedral ambience. Even though they pinpointed themselves a bit, the sense of immersion was plausible.
The final scene is a test of not only dialogue and ambience but music fidelity, too. The score was beautifully reproduced, with orchestral double basses that, while not powerful, were strong enough to anchor the music. Dialogue was completely clear, but I would have appreciated a wider dispersion from the center speaker.
Finally, I turned to Master and Commander, where the subwoofer cranked out some pretty solid explosions, including cannons being fired and wooden ships bursting into splinters. If there was a frequency-response gap between the sub and the sats, I didn't hear it. The ultimate volume level delivered by these small speakers has its limits, but it's still sufficient for many home theater rooms. This system easily passes the buttered-popcorn test.
Life is tough for small speakers. They can't match the big boys in sound-pressure level or powerful bass, and the sat/sub blend is often tricky. But good small speakers can still provide accurate reproduction with enough level and bass to make their point. That's the case with Energy's Take Classic system. Its all-important midrange sounds wonderfully natural, its high end is quite good, and its bass is adequate. In a small or midsize room, the Take Classic will perform beautifully. Throw in its classy black finish, and you've got a small, value-priced package. And that's a very good thing.
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