SETUP For this test, I used Yamaha's RX-V1500, a 120-watt, seven-channel receiver whose $850 price makes it a good match for the Take system. The TWRs were set up 21/2 feet out from my front wall, about a foot to either side of the TV, and facing head on. Taking a tip from Energy, I set the Yamaha's subwoofer crossover to 60 Hz. The FPS sat on the TV stand's middle shelf, angled up slightly, while the surrounds sat at ear level behind the left and right corners of my couch. Sub setup usually requires experimentation, but after an initial round of listening, I found that the S10.3 was at home in the right front corner of the room.
MUSIC PERFORMANCE Starting out in stereo, I played "Blues Dream" from the CD Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones. The TWR/S10.3 combination sounded well balanced, conveying the full, rich tones of the trio's drums, electric guitar, and acoustic bass. The sub reproduced Holland's low bass notes with a decent amount of heft and blended smoothly with the TWRs - so much so that I couldn't pick out its location with my eyes closed. While lacking somewhat in image depth compared with my regular speakers - a costlier pair of MartinLogan electrostatics - the TWRs cast a wide yet very precise sonic image. Reverberations from Frisell's plucked guitar notes emanated from a specific point in space, while Jones's languid cymbal strokes floated up and out into the room like balloons.
Turning to a track with vocals, I found that the Take speakers did an exemplary job with the Shins' ballad "Pink Bullets" from their CD Chutes Too Narrow. James Mercer's pained, sensitive-guy tenor came across as completely natural, and when the track faded out on a harmonica solo, the instrument sounded sweet but retained a brassy bite. Bob Dylan would be pleased. Moving to something a bit less bursting with sincerity, I played "Heart of the Sunrise" from the DVD-Audio remix of Yes's Fragile. Bill Bruford's drumming sounded snappy on the Takes, which accurately captured the crisp attack of his snare drum and the rapid-fire sound of his kick-drum. The SAT surrounds also blended fairly seamlessly with the fronts on this multichannel track, with Rick Wakeman's analog synth noodlings sounding liquid and smooth as they snaked from the front to the rear speakers.
MOVIE PERFORMANCE It's a tough job, but someone had to watch Blade: Trinity on DVD, if only to appreciate the awesomeness of its soundtrack. From the first scene, the Take system did a convincing job of rendering the cavernous spaces where the film is set, including traffic tunnels, warehouses, and what looked like an ancient Sumerian crypt. Dialogue coming from the FPS center speaker was consistently clear and sounded natural with both Wesley Snipes's deep, growling voice and Parker Posey's urbane, nasal whine. And even though the system easily conveyed thunderous sound effects - like the slam of steel doors when Posey visited an imprisoned vampire - it was also capable of delivering fine sonic detail, like the soft bleeps and blips of the prison's high-tech security system (a must-have prop for any action film).
BOTTOM LINE Energy's newest Take speakers are designed to fit seamlessly into the new world of flat-panel TVs and high-tech rear projectors, and to do so without making substantial compromises in sound quality. Energy has succeeded in its quest - this system looks and sounds great. Best of all, it's gentle on the wallet compared with many similar, tower-based speaker packages. In that sense, the new Takes carry on the high-performance, high-value mission of the company's original Take system, but with a new twist this time around: high style.
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