the rave reviews we are getting on our speaker systems. You can link to these sites or read the reviews here.
REVIEW FROM AUDIOPHILEAUDITION.COM!
The Premier Acoustic Speaker System is reviewed as breathtaking,
no make that stunning! The review states, "The
testing results were so spectacular. They reproduced with the kind
of depth and velvety texture that goes beyond even the live concert
experience." On the multichannel SACDs the sound field in which
I was immersed was seamless in all 360 degrees. More than any Home
Theater surround setups I have ever heard in stores.
Click here to read the entire review!
Background and Previous Gear
Over the years, I have written about speakers as different and exceptional as
Electrovoiceís giant Patricians (with which I grew up - a pair no less)
featuring mighty 18-inch woofers and horn-loaded mid-range and tweeters;
Quadís classic ELSs (the most transparent sounding radiator screens ever);
B&Wís first non-ionic dynamic-electrostatic hybrids with the ELS unit
plugged into a conventional rectangular box; Spendor Audioís version of the
acclaimed LS3/5As; some of Infinityís startling first attempts at full-range
realistic sound; and, more recently, Wilson Audioís breathtaking
blends of power, delicacy and accuracy.
I was therefore surprised that writing about Premier Acoustic's PA-6F Home
Theater System turned out to be as challenging as writing about any of the
above superficially far more complex musical instruments. Not because Premier
Acousticsí home theater system turned out be anything less than superb. In
fact, there has been a suspicion that Premier has built upon the standards for
sound reproduction laid down by many of the historically most important
companies as well as their current competition. For example, you can hear how
strongly Premier competes against competitors like Klipsch who, with their
history of horn-loaded systems, represent in a sense the heritage of those
Writing about the PA-6F has turned out to be challenging for a reason that has
not existed prior to the recent development of the multichannel Super Audio CD
and the arrival of the multichannel DVD as the standard for video. The result
has been that sizing up the PA-6F under such circumstances has been so
musically exciting that listening to new releases as they arrive, and old
favorites as they wait on the shelves, has become totally addictive.
I began by using a variety of recorded material to determine just how good the
two Premier towers alone were in a conventional stereo setup. The electronics
were all Naim Audio, very clean and powerful, a Nait 2 integrated unit driving
a NAP 140 amp. The CD player was Naimís impeccable 5i. The CDs I used for
evaluating the sound were CDs I know well, some of which come from the early
days of stereo. And the speakers I was using before I switched to the PA-6F
were a pair of Spendor Audioís big SP2/3s.
Test Sources Used
For testing low bass and transient response, I used the ďYou Look Good to
MeĒ cut on We Get Requests: The Oscar Petersen Trio (Verve). For big
orchestral workouts, I used soundmeister Herbert von Karajanís Vienna
Philharmonic Decca recordings including waltzes by the Strauss family,
Holstís Planets (with the awesome bass notes in Uranus), and symphonies by
Brahms, Beethoven and Dvorak. For detail and timbre, I used the Philip Jones
Brass Ensembleís Swiss recital (Claves). For vocal purity, I used
Chanticleerís self-recorded Anniversary Album. For piano sound, I used
Frederic Chiuís recital of Schubert songs in Franz Lisztís transcriptions
(Harmonia Mundi) and pianist Ekaterina Dershavinaís performance of Bachís
Goldberg Variations (Arte Nova). For opera, I used Electrola's 1959 recording
of Weberís Der FreischŁtz which is not only a fine performance but one of
the most atmospheric recordings ever made (check out the Wolf Glenís finale
to Act II). And, as a postprandial delight, Neville Marrinerís classic
account on Argo of Vivaldiís Four Seasons.
In each case, the system performed either close or equal to the legendary
speakers listed above. They were extremely neutral, so you didnít feel you
were listening to the speakers (although this was one of the decadent joys of
the pre-digital age, it is far exceeded by the joy of listening to accurate
natural sound in a realistic ambient environment). The two beautiful towers
handled power effortlessly and, even without the subwoofer that is added for
multichannel listening in the home theater array, they growled and thumped
convincingly, whether it was the string bass in the Oscar Petersen cut, or the
monstrously low brass and percussion in the Holst. When, on occasion, they
lacked the last ounce of bass, they didnít go ballistic but handled the
situation with elegance and grace. They were transparent to a wonderful degree
both on the Bach Variations and the Schubert-Liszt transcriptions, most
impressive since the piano remains the most difficult instrument to reproduce,
and on the Vivaldi, enabling the strands of inner detail to be heard without
About Premier Acoustic
Before I go into how well the PA-6F handled the multichannel challenges and
opportunities presented by a few primo symphonic and operatic DVDs, some
background on Premier Acoustic is in order.
The owners of Premier Acoustic have been in the home theater electronic
business for more than 20 years. In order to maximize both quality and value,
Premier has taken the best features from many ďtop of the lineĒ speaker
manufacturers that are available in todayís market and created an
affordable, sleek and clean sounding speaker line. From the low end bass
response of the powered subwoofer, to the high end of the soft dome tweeters,
each speaker is designed to reproduce its specified frequency response as
perfectly as technology allows. The complete PA-6F home theater system is
guaranteed to have a frequency response from as low as 24 HZ up to 20KHZ.
The Six Speakers Involved
The specifications for each of the six speakers are not the only things that
are beautiful about the PA-6F. The system available in black or cherry
(real wood, too), with both the top and bottom sides of the cabinets custom
finished in a black, high gloss piano lacquer. So, not only do these speakers
sound the best in their class, they bring style to any room in your home. In
fact, ever since the PA-6F arrived in our home for its trial run, my wife has
been not so subtly hinting how nice it would be if we left the Spendors in the
The facts, just the facts:
The handsome PA-6F floor standing tower speaker is designed to bring out
a wide range of sounds whether they are being used for a DVD experience or
just plain old stereo Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Premier has incorporated
dual 6/12" polygraphite woofers to deliver bass as low as 35 HZ. The
tweeter is one of the clearest available for home speakers that I have heard.
The handsome but unobtrusive PA-6C center channel is designed to bring out
voice and dialog, and has been engineered to deliver details from the smallest
whispers to the loudest shouts. Premier has incorporated dual 6/12"
polygraphite woofers for genuine bass response. The tweeter is soft and clear,
producing highs as high up as the human ear can hear.
The good-looking but appropriately small PA-6S surround speakers are designed
to bring out the surround feel of DVD movies. Whether itís bullets flying
overhead, or helicopters buzzing at uncomfortably low altitudes, Close
matching with the timbres of the frontal speakers also assures a natural
surround soundfield for multichannel music reproduction. The PA-6Ss have been
engineered to make you duck! The alignment of two 6 1/2" polygraphite
woofers are at roughly a 90 degrees angle, while the tweeters fire straight
The PA-12W powered subwoofer is a spectacular performer, discreet when it
needs to just subtly enhance the low end of a solo cello, or totally out of
its mind when Also sprach Zarathustra calls out for those low, low organ
tones. It also handles huge explosions, the footsteps of dinosaurs, or just
strong bass guitar and drums. The alignment of a large 12" polygraphite
woofer, and a built in 500 watt amp makes this sub fill any room with clear
bass. And Premier has provided easy to use controls to tune the PA-12W.
An adjustable crossover custom sets the frequency response, a volume control
sets the output, and an auto on/off switch power on the PA- 12W as soon as the
slightest hint of bass hits your LFE track.
Wondering how it sounds on multichannel DVDs?
Oh yes, I promised to let you know how the PA-6F performed on multichannel
SACDs and multichannel DVDs. In a word, breathtaking. No, make that stunning.
For the testing, I used a Sony DVP-NS755V and Outlawís versatile and
user-friendly 1070 receiver, with 65 watts per channel into 8 ohms (more on
the 1070 in a separate review).
For the piŤce de rťsistance, I used the following DVDs: Josť Montalvoís
spectacular, almost X-rated production of Jean-Philippe Rameauís magnificent
opera, Les Paladins (Opus Arte); Heinz Spoerliís ballet set to
Stravinskyís Pulcinella, conducted by Neville Marriner (DG); Bernard
Haitinkís nearly complete Mahler symphonic cycle with the Berlin
Philharmonic (Philips); Leonard Bernsteinís mid-80s performances of
Shostakovichís Symphonies 6 & 9 with the Vienna Philharmonic (DG); and,
for a change of pace, a South Korean pressing of the French movie, Asterix et
The results were so spectacular that it became very difficult to return to
simple audio discs. Somehow, the added visual element enhanced the listening
experience in a deeply subtle way. [There is also the opposing faction who
prefer to look at that the other way around...Ed.] It was the Mahler
Fourth Symphony which got me first, the richly upholstered deep bass of the
Berlin Philharmonic reproduced with the kind of depth and velvety texture that
goes beyond even the live concert experience and takes you into the most
profound and ecstatic reaches of the composerís soul. The cycle is a
controversial one in an interpretive sense, lacking the stark emotional
intensity and contrast that many conductors and listeners think reflects the
composerís true intentions. But Haitink, who comes from the tradition of the
great Dutch conductors that began with Willem Mengelberg (who worked closely
with Mahler in the first decade of the 20th century) has undeniable authority
in this music. The experience is a visceral one, decadent to some and vastly
profound to others, and the PA-6F system is immensely impressive, with a
transparency that removes any barriers between the music and the listener. The
two Shostakovich symphonies with Bernstein have similar qualities, although
the emotional intensity is much more jagged. The Stravinsky ballet, one of
Marrinerís signature pieces in his early analog days with Argo, is quite
brilliant, dynamically rich and timbrally clear and detailed. Again the
Premier Acoustic system performed with audiophile glee.
The Rameau opera is quite a different treat, with nude men and women, as well
as animals of all sorts, scampering across a multilevel stage, using all sorts
of multimedia magic. The sound is brilliant and a tremendous challenge to
speakers because of the composerís demanding use of a wide range of voices,
and the unusual but distinctive sounds of the original instruments. Everything
comes across with stunning impact. The same is true of the French blockbuster
Asterix et Obelix, never released in the U.S. because the essence of the comic
books on which the movie is based is a never-ending series of puns which it
would be impossible to translate (and sub-titles donít help much, either).
Still, with the PA-6F holding forth, if French humor on a Rabelaisian scale is
your thing, you will appreciate what the system is contributing.
I expected that, after the DVDs, the SACDs would seem more subdued. Instead,
they had a musical coherence and integrity, dynamic range and tonal bloom of
such beauty that I was quite amazed. I had selected a motley crew:
Bernsteinís New World Symphony with the New York Philharmonic on Sony, a
delightful program of Respighi (two works for mezzo and orchestra, and the
dance music for La Pentola Magico) on CPO, Hesperiůn XXIís newest recital
(music from the Occident and the Orient, 1200--1700) for Harmonia Mundi, and
Julia Fischerís set of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Pentatone.
I listened to these over and over. The Dvorak confirmed its standing as
perhaps the greatest single recording ever made of the popular symphony, with
Bernsteinís love and enthusiasm bubbling over in every bar. The Respighi had
tremendous delicacy and a magical feel for the singer, Damiani Pinti. On the
Hesperiůn XXI concert, the thrill of each individual exotic instrument struck
home to the heart and soul, and the singing had an eerie presence. On the
Bach, you could hear each nuance, each movement of the bow on the string, in a
miraculous performance by the young German virtuoso. On the multichannel
SACDs the soundfield in which I was immersed was more seamless in all 360
degrees than some HT surround setups I have heard in stores.
Premier likes to compare their PA-6F to Polk Audio, who by using the same
tweeter is able to boast of a similar frequency response, and Klipsch, who use
the gold polygraphite woofer. The cabinet design, Premier likes to say, is
similar to Boston Acoustic and Energy. But I say, just because it sounds
great, and equals its competition, how much does it cost?
The answer is: About half of the price of similar systems from (for the time
being), more well-known speaker manufacturers such as Polk and Klipsch.
Although Premier Acousticís suggested list price for the PA-6F is $1989.00,
it can be widely found online from factory authorized dealers for $999.00
delivered (that means that the shipping is free). If you bought a similar
system from manufacturers like Boston Acoustic, Polk, Energy and Klipsch, the
price would be over $2500.00. And Premier also offers a full 5-year
The only complaint I have heard so far is from my Spendors, crying out in pain
- and perhaps in vain - from their closet.
-- Laurence Vittes
Theater Forum Review:
REVIEW FROM HOMETHEATERFORUM.COM!
The Premier Acoustic Speaker System is reviewed and given a "Highly
Recommended" ranking. The review states, "It
didn't matter what I threw at them......In many cases I could swear
that I was hearing additional bits of music and dialogue that I
hadn't heard before." Click
here to read the entire review!
I have been a user of the same set of speakers
for the past 10+ years for my surround setup. I currently have a Definitive Tech
speaker setup for my mains, center and surrounds. They have served me very well
over the years. I also have an SVS sub. It is a one of a kind so I really can't
say what model it is but it is very similar to the 16-46 PCĖPlus in design.
The other day I got a call from Lloyd Winston
with Home Speakers Direct and he asked me if I would be willing to review a new
speaker line that they got in. I said sure send them on. So in about 5 days I
had a complete 5.1 speaker system setting on my doorstep. I asked him to send me
the bookshelf version as I already have a tower speaker system.
The owners of Premier
Acoustic have been in the home theater electronic business for over 20
years. They have taken the best features from many ďtop of the lineĒ speaker
manufacturers that are available in todayís market and created an affordable,
sleek and clean sounding speaker line.
The speakers (with the addition of the subwoofer)
have a rated frequency response of 24 hz all the way up to 20 khz. The black
lacquer tops and bottoms bring a great since of style to each of the speakers.
They are available in cherry and black color cabinets. I personally got the
cherry cabinets. They are a light cherry in color with piano black tops. The
look is very sleek and elegant and the cabinet boxes are very well constructed.
The grills can be easily removed if you prefer to see your speakers with the
Outlaw Audio 950 Pre/Pro
Outlaw Audio 770 Power Amp (200 watts RMS per channel x 7)
2 Parts Fusion HTPC with HDA Mystique Sound Card DTS-ES, DD-EX, Dolby Digital,
DTS and Dolby Digital Live.
Genesis - Platinum Collection
Extreme II - Pornograffitti
Peter Gabriel - So
Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
Al DiMeola - Elegant Gypsy
Beethoven's Ninth - conducted by Herbert von Karajan
Flim & The BB's - Big Notes
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery
Toy Story II
The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over Fleetwood Mac - The Dance
When I listen to a set of speakers the bottom
line to me is how transparent they are. That is do they add anything to the
sound that has not been recorded. Are they flat? Are the highs too much? Is the
bass not low enough or too boomy? Do they breathe what you put into them back
into the room?
I really tried to give these speakers a wide
range of music and dynamics. I wanted to see how they would handle the really
quite passages of Karajan conducting the 9th all the way up to the synth
performance of Emerson in Brain Salad Surgery. It didn't matter what I
threw at them they handled all the dynamics of the music without coloring it in
I have been used to listening to bipolar speakers
for a long time but that really didn't seem to matter much as these speakers
really gave them a run for their money in overall performance. In many cases I
could swear that I was hearing additional bits of music and dialogue that I
hadn't heard before.
This is like not only getting the cake, the icing
and being able to eat it too. It is also someone coming in afterwards and asking
you if you would like another cake. In other words a great bang for the buck.
PA-6B 229.00 a pair
PA-6C 189.00 each
PA-6S 229.00 a pair
PA-12W Sub 299.00 each
Model #: PA-6B Home Theater System that I
Price: $1,689.00 MSRP - only $899 delivered!
Warranty on all the speakers is 5 years.
If you are looking for a good 5.1 speaker system
that not only looks great but at the same time delivers on performance this is
the speaker system to get. Throw in the fact that the complete system is only
$899 or $999 (if you go with the tower mains instead) you are going to have a
hard time finding anything that can give you this kind of bang for your buck.
Theater Focus Review:
REVIEW FROM HOMETHEATERFOCUS.COM!
"Premiere Acoustic paid attention to the details!"
"When I closed my eyes, I was immersed in sound and could hear
the crowds cheering all around me."
"I was pleasantly surprised on the overall clarity and
'This system compares in quality and build
to other systems costing twice as much."
here to read the entire review!
Who is Premier Acoustics?
Company spokesman Eric Winston says:
Acoustics has been in the home theater electronic
business for over 20 years. We have taken the best features from many ďtop
of the lineĒ speaker manufacturers that are available in todayís market
and created an affordable, sleek and clean sounding speaker line. From the low
end bass response of the powered subwoofer, to the high end of the soft dome
tweeters, each speaker is designed to reproduce its specified frequency
At the top of Premier Acousticsí line of Home
Theater Speaker Systems is the PA-6F. The system is named after the PA-6F front
speaker it uses, which is the largest front speaker in Premier Acousticsí
The fronts are tower speakers, model PA-6F, and
feature two 6.5 inch polygraphite woofers and a 1 inch soft dome tweeter. The
surrounds are model PA-6S. The 6.5 inch woofers on the 6S are angled at
approximately 90 degrees to radiate sound behind the audience. This design is
popular among surround speakers because itís good at diffusing sound; it makes
it difficult for the audience to localize the soundís source, which is a
critical element in successful execution of the surround sound effect. The PA-6S
models are suited for smaller rooms where the audience will likely be sitting
closer to the speakers.
The center speaker is the model 6C, a curious M-T-M
(Midrange - Tweeter - Midrange) design. The midrange drivers looked like they
might be spaced too far apart to provide proper dispersion into the audience - I
was ready for light or hollow sounding midrange from the center channel speaker
that couldnít articulate voices. But the 6C provided enough clear midrange
that I never felt left out of the conversation.
Each speaker is a combination of handsome design
and practical esthetic that will fit easily in most rooms. Premiere Acoustics
paid attention to the details by integrating an attractive black piano gloss
finish into their design, and even ensuring that the front tower speaker (the
largest of the bunch) leaves only a small footprint on your floor. The surrounds
can be wall mounted or placed on a shelf or stand. The center speaker at only 22
lbs and 21.9 inches in length, should easily fit on a modest shelf or on a stand
on top of most projection TVs, without imposing on the room.
Did the PA-6F System Drop From a White Van?
The powered sub in the PA-6F system is a
surprising component. There is no sugar-coating the inherent ugliness of a
subwoofer box, no matter how glossy the finish. A powerful sub capable of moving
serious air is really just a big heavy cube probably sitting in one corner of
the room. It's unlikely anybody ever said of an effective sub: "Gosh,
that's an attractive subwoofer you have." The PA-6F is one big ugly sub,
but that's a good thing if you're looking for powerful boom in your Home
The PA-6W is a powered sub, featuring a 12 inch
driver with a 200 Watt amp that is capable of shaking most rooms. The specs say
it only gets down to 24Hz - a small compromise compared to many more expensive
12 inch, 200W subs that are rated to go all the way down to 20Hz. For its rating
I expected less than impressive chest-thumping sound, but found I was pleasantly
surprised. I've used established name brand subs with similar specs (Boston
Acoustics and Velodyne) that produced only a little more volume and had only a
slightly tighter response to rapid deep tones. The Premiere Acoustics sub
compares favorably to the big brands, when you consider that its price is less
than half for only a minor step down in performance - in fact, this is a common
theme among the entire Premiere Acoustics line. The PA-6W Subwoofer is clearly
more capable of producing louder, low-frequency effects than some of the
comparably priced name brand subs I've heard that come with bookshelf 5.1 kits.
The speakers look like a cross between PSB and
Klipsch brands. (With the Klipsch style coming from the copper-hued drivers.)
But whether or not the speakers are made to look a certain way, or actually use
parts from a manufacturer, is irrelevant. You simply can't judge a book by
looking at the cover, so let's dig into the sound quality of these speakers.
White Van and Build Quality
I must admit that when the speakers first came in
the mail I was skeptical about Premier Acoustics and its products. Who is this
company? Why do their speakers look like a hodge-podge of other products? It had
me thinking of white
van speakers. "Electronics sold from a white van" is a euphemism
for a rip-off deal. White van products are usually made-up name brands designed
to sound close to an established brand (think Klapsch or Philadelphia
Acoustics), but which offer a ridiculously low price tag. Really though,
theyíre just a rip-off, likely built from spare parts that fell off the plane
from a South East Asian sweatshop.
Once unboxed, I took a closer look at the
moldings around the drivers, the seams on the speaker boxes themselves and the
speaker wire binding posts. From the perspective of build quality, I saw no
apparent problems. Many hi-fi aficionados might balk at the very idea of any
seams on speaker boxes, but hey, this system retails at just under $1000 for the
entire 5.1 kit. This is a fact I had to keep in mind as I inspected the speakers
and started making comparisons to more expensive models. The gold-plated binding
posts were very secure, and the plastic casings that bolted them down felt solid
as I put some bare 14 gauge wire through them. The PA-6F front speakers are bi-wireable,
but I did not use them in this configuration. Each of the speakers is built with
a ported design, so theyíre fairly sensitive compared to others Iíve used.
The Space Makes All the Difference in Sound
Powering the PA-6F system is my Arcam AVR-200, a
decent quality 80 Watt-per-channel receiver that boasts high current from its
Toridal transformer. In 2.0 and 2.1 mode the Arcam slips into a 90
watt-per-channel mode for stereo sound only. I also ran the speakers literally
for days on an older Denon AVR-3200. What can I say - Iím a sucker for
receiver models that start with AVR.
Out of the box, the initial test was to break the
speakers in with the Denon. The break-in was a veritable party that started with
loud music in the early evening and didnít stop until dawn. The volumes
probably never went above 85 db, but the subís own volume control was pushed
up a few times to get a feel for how well it could move air in the room. It
performed admirably. Although the speakers werenít abused, they were certainly
stress-tested, and they stayed in that test setup for days, running at lower
volumes almost non-stop. Then it was time to put them into my home theater
system for some critical listening.
The room in which I was listening is a carpeted
one, 30 feet deep by 19 feet wide. The acoustics are quite good. While carpeted,
there are wooden walls so the opportunity for acoustic reflections exists - but
since the room is large, the speakers arenít placed any closer than 1.5 feet
from any wall.
The PA-6F front speakers displaced my NHT
ST-4 speakers that were being powered by a two channel NAD amp at 100 WPC.
The rest of the speakers are powered by the Arcam receiver at 80 WPC. No
bi-wiring was used for this test. I calibrated the sound using an analogue Radio
Shack dB meter and the Arcam receiverís test tones for white noise. When
suitable balance and positioning was achieved I commenced with the test.
Stereo Music Listening
2.0 and 2.1 Stereo Music Listening
The first test was in 2.0 (front speakers only)
using a Cambridge Audio Azur 540D DVD, DVD-Audio and CD player. The first album
to test was 1993ís Into the Labyrinth by Dead can Dance. Itís one of the
finest-produced CDs Iíve ever heard, recorded on location in an old Irish
church called Quivy. The CD will test your systemís ability to capture latent
harmonics in the recording, as the harmonics in the 19th century cathedral
contribute acoustics to the CD as if they were another instrument.
The music of Dead can Dance is an eclectic mix of
vocals by Lisa Gerard and Brendan Perry and a variety of world instrumentation.
(Lisa Gerardís chanting vocals have been heard on the soundtracks of films by
Michael Mann as well as Ridley Scottís Gladiator.) Into the Labyrinth was a
perfect test of the front speakerís soundstage. Any speaker system can present
the illusion of a church hallís harmonics when playing back through 5.1
speakers through Dolby Pro Logic II. The PA-6F pulled off the illusion
adequately in 2.0 and 2.1 modes.
The PA-6F front speakers performed remarkably, as
I was expecting noticeable loss of low end when unaccompanied by a sub. Although
bass is not a strength with these speakers, the complete kit does include a sub.
The strength in this case is definitely the soundstage.
The music enveloped me as I double-checked to see
if the center and surrounds were active. There was certainly no mistaking the
lack of bottom end, which the recording would expose mercilessly with a few
tones from an organ. The speakers were at their best when presenting the middle
highs of the human voice, and Gerardís voice was particularly gripping when
the merest echo was picked up from the recording. The neutrality of the sound
quality was very strong in the PA-6Fís, and showed nothing of the harshness
that is common in ported speakers in this price range.
Donít get me wrong, I love my ST-4s by NHT,
despite the fact they cost me nearly twice the price of these PA-6F front
speakers. In head to head comparison the NHT-ST4 offered slightly better
neutrality and uncolored sound and was the clear superior in bass response
thanks to their side-firing woofers. Still, I caught myself wondering: If I had
to buy all over again is the modest gain in neutrality and a little extra bass
worth the extra cost? I think so, Iíve always been of the opinion that you
should buy the best you can afford at the risk of slightly overspending. This
trims the chances of looking for a replacement in the future which saves in the
I slid more variety into the 2.0 testing,
including some straight guitar-oriented rock. I threw in Blurís Song 2 for
some aggressive rock treatment. Screaming guitars sounded excellent, but after
stepping out of the Labyrinthís Quivy Church, Blur sounded like cardboard by
comparison. Radioheadís True provided clearly-defined sound, articulate vocals
and Radioheadís signature synth sounds. Popping in Neil Youngís Harvest Moon
exposed a hint of overpowering mid-bass for my taste. This seems to be common in
budget speaker systems trying to mask weak low end. But the PA-6F werenít
plagued with this issue at every turn as Iíve heard in many budget speakers.
The recording probably had much to do with the perceived bump in midbass and
overall I was pleased with the speakerís musicality.
Everything above was tested in 2.1 mode with a
60Hz crossover to the sub, so only the deepest bass would get the sub. Leaving
the front speakers to reproduce anything down around 80Hz was tough on the
PA-6Fís, despite being rated at up to 35Hz. I tested the crossover at 60Hz and
80Hz and found they both sounded very good.
Multi-Channel Surround Sound Music
Multi-Channel Surround Sound Music
Multi-channel audio comes off as a bit of a
gimmick to some, while others see it as a revolution in music. For me it's a
great way to practically guarantee a high quality recording from a studio.
Rarely have I brought home a DVD-Audio
disk and been disappointed in the recording - the same cannot be said for CD.
Diana Krall's S'wonderful, a rendition
of a Brazilian Jazz tune sung in her relaxed style, is the perfect test for your
tweeters. Every sentence of the song starts with an extended Ssssss. All those
Ss sung in Krall's relaxed middle highs are a perfect test of a speaker's
sibilance. I am pleased to report that the distortion sometimes heard when the
letter S is pronounced into the mic was, in this case, at a minimum - the
tweeters were able to roll with the S's like a speaker system worth twice the
Frank Zappa's Halloween is one of my all-time
favorite DVD-Audios. The disk contains a reproduction of a memorable concert
from the late 70's, featuring bouncing bass drums, singing guitars and even a
sitar performance thanks to Ravi Shankar. The recording quality is excellent;
Zappa pushed the limits of recording technology in his day, and these Halloween
concerts were actually recorded specifically for Quadrophonic.
When I closed my eyes, I was immersed in sound
and could hear the crowds cheering all around me. The track Zeets had a
particular encompassing effect, where the drum beat seemed to circle the entire
room. The timbre seemed well-matched and the complexity of the individual drum
beats wasn't lost on the smaller surround speakers. Most 5.1 speakers systems
will present compromised rear effects just because - let's face it - they get
away with smaller, cheaper surround speakers. Only occasionally do you really
find full frequency range coming out of the surrounds, and then it's understood
that it won't sound as full as the fronts in a full sized 5.1 system. In the
case of the PA 6F, the cohesion of the single sound effect circling the room was
surprisingly well done.
DVD Video Test
But can these speakers explode a space ship?
Movies are the most practical test for any 5.1
speaker system. When I first laid eyes on the PA-6F system I anticipated the
center speaker would be a problem. The MTM design with the great gaps of
driverless real estate along the front looked haphazard, and didn't fill me with
confidence. But after listening I was pleasantly surprised, as the speakers were
able to hide many of the design's inherent flaws. Still though, the PA-6C is
definitely a flawed center channel speaker, and if I had to pick a weak link in
the chain that would be it.
The first movie to be tested was the original
Matrix from 1999, long before the franchise wore out its welcome. The scene I
skipped to is entitled ďFollow The White RabbitĒ - it's where Neo decides to
join some friends at a club. This scene documents Neo's first meeting with
Trinity, and she whispers in his ear about his disconnected feelings while an
aggressive Prodigy beat plays loudly out the front and center channels. This is
a great test for any Dolby
Pro-Logic or Dolby
Digital system, because if you can hear what the heck Trinity is saying over
Prodigy, then you've got a center speaker that isn't badly affected by
Problems with dispersion are common with center
channel speakers. Delicate voices are easily drowned out by the front speakers,
which often leaves people cranking up the volume to hear dialogue and then
turning it down again when the action heats up. This can usually be avoided by
staying clear of cheap M-T-M (midrange-tweeter-midrange) center speaker designs.
The center speaker is easily the most underrated speaker in home theater - a
beefy center with great clarity and the ability to push air in front of an
audience is the difference between Home Theater and just watching TV with lots
Back to Trinity and Neo's conversation: through
the PA-6C, I am pleased to say it sounded excellent, and I had no problem making
out what Trinity was saying. It speaks to the center's ability to articulate
middle highs, so, you should have no trouble hearing voices.
Unfortunately, the PA-6C's performance in
handling action wasn't up to the task of the Matrix's many fight scenes. There
is famous scene at the beginning where Trinity is kicking cops around a room
(you may have seen it lampooned on a number of occasions). Trinity is hanging in
the air in slow motion, and is laying a heel into a police officer. The cop
flies backward and hits another cop and together they both hit the wall. That
kick can be broken down into jarring impacts that take turns coming out each
speaker, but its climactic final impact of the two cops on the wall is almost
completely limited to your center channel. After hearing the front and sub
contribute to the several smashes around the room, the sound of the same impact
coming out the center speaker seemed anemic.
My disappointment comes from comparing its sound
to the incredible rumble you get from fronts that can make you feel the impacts.
In this case, it becomes very obvious you're listening to a little speaker.
To be fair, the two most recent center channel
speakers that have had time in my system have been NHT's SC-1 and Paradigm's
CC-570. Comparing the two speakers is like night and day. I was really
displeased with the SC-1, and found it could be easily bested by any competent
center channel speaker. Premier Acoustics' PA-6C easily outperformed the SC-1 in
volume, bass response and dispersion.
The next film I tested was Pitch Black and its
crash landing scene near the beginning of the movie. After a narration by Vin
Diesel, the crash starts and debris is whipped through the ship, producing some
excellent surround effects. The climax has the small craft crashing down through
a reflection in a close-up view of the pilot's eyeball. It's one of the better
space ship crash landing scenes ever made. The PA-6F system lent the crash
landing a crisp, tight and palpable tension. The bass from the sub added the few
pieces of over the top boom that we all love in an action movie. The front
speakers did their part by providing lots of intensity and detail in the scene
where measures were taken to save the doomed ship. But that center speaker, try
as it might just couldn't keep up with the fronts, so you get a reserved quality
to the high-action sequences. You probably wouldn't notice the center was
holding back if you didn't compare it with Paradigm's excellent CC-570 - that
system really opened up the scene with details you had no idea were present when
listening to the PA-6C. But then, it's important to keep in mind that the CC-570
retails for around the price of the entire PA-6F system.
For just under $1000, you can get a complete 5.1
speaker system that consists of two front tower speakers and bookshelf-ready
surround and center channel speakers. Itís a very good price for what youíre
getting as surprisingly enough, these speakers sound as good as recognized
brands that sell for much more.
The strong points of this system are the PA-6F
front speakers and the PA-6W subwoofer. Together they make a formidable 2.1
combination that covers everything from deep, chest-thumping bass to crystal
The sub features a 12 inch driver and a built in
200Watt amp. The whole package is quite heavy, weighing in at 56 lbs, but itís
very well built and sturdy - unlike many of the too-narrow budget subs youíll
find that accompany some higher-priced 5.1 systems. That the sub is rated down
only to 24Hz rather than 20Hz is a concern for me, but from a practical view it
didnít seem to make any difference to my listening experience. I did perform
side-by-side comparisons with the much more expensive Velondyne sub that is
rated to 20Hz. The Velondyne of course is the better sub for explosive and fast
bass response. But for most Home Theater viewing where youíre looking for lots
of rumble, the PA-6W will perform remarkably.
The front speakers are bi-ampable with two sets
of sturdy binding posts. However, they donít have the option of carpet spikes
- unless you are able to find a third party measure - which could be a problem
on a thick rug. Also, the speakers leave a narrow footprint, so they may not be
the most stable.
The PA-6Sís are good surround speakers for
bookshelf models. They are well suited for a smaller room where the audience has
to sit closer to the surround channels than they might like. The side-firing
drivers and direct-firing tweeter serve to diffuse the sound in a more circular
pattern around the audience, as opposed to direct-firing speakers that need to
be a certain distance from the listener before you hear them correctly. The
surrounds are a suitable match for the front speakers as theyíre a smaller
variation, but there isnít anything specifically extraordinary about them.
The center channel speaker, PA-6C, is this
speaker systemís weakest link. It appears to be par for the course for speaker
systems at this price range to go cheap on the center channel speaker; but for
once Iíd like to see a Home Theater speaker system give the center speaker its
due. The center channel is even more important than the front speaker for Home
Theater. But this center isnít bad, itís a good match for the system - it
just lacks the kind of air-pushing power you need to get the most from the
center stage of your Home Theater. Consider upgrading the center with another
ported center channel speaker that employs a design with separate tweeter,
midrange and woofers, itís an all around superior design but will certainly
cost substantially more.