written by Mike Shea on 18 July 2002
The following article was written by Sam Gupta and edited for Liquidtheater.com by Mike Shea. Content is copywright 2002 Sam Gupta.
After searching for a suitable satellite speaker system for my new home, I finally settled on the Energy Take 5.2 System with the S8.2 subwoofer. My decision to try this out was based on the numerous positive reviews I had read, a recommendation from a buddy who had considered the same system (he ultimately went with a lower priced package from Polk Audio), a further recommendation by Mike Shea, and the fact that a local store had the speakers available to listen to. This was the first major purchase I have made at a Good Guys in quite a while. If it wasn't for their nearby location, immediate availability and 30-day money back return policy, I wouldn't have done it. You can save a bundle on this system if you poke around the web vs. buying from a large chain, but the drawback is that you might loose your warranty coverage.
After unloading the goodies from the car, the first thing I thought was "hey, I must be missing a box." It's amazing how small of a package this stuff ships in. The Take 5.2 system of 5 speakers came in one box, and the subwoofer came in another. I started ripping this stuff open and found that it was indeed all there. The system uses identical speakers for the left/right and rear speakers. These little guys are heavy and I was impressed with their weight. The cabinet looked to be fairly well put together, no seams or mismatches at the corners. One taste item, the gloss black cabinets are kinda reminiscent of the 80s and black lacquer furniture. They also grab fingerprints like an FBI agent. But once they are setup and wired, you can wipe them clean and they'll be good. The center channel also features the same gloss black construction and looks good atop a TV. The system is also available in a white finish.
One other thing about these speakers: they are small. Maybe I should have said that the speakers aren't heavy but dense. They are weighty for their size. The left/right and surrounds are only about 6 inches high. This is a very nice thing if you don't want your speaker setup to be the focus of the room, which is one of the reasons I was dead set on a satellite system.
Another significant item I noticed while hooking up the speakers is that the binding posts are extremely well made. No lame spring clip action or weak posts, these are sturdy and ready for heavy duty cabling. I chose to run the bare 16-gauge speaker wire into them partly to save from buying the expensive connectors at Good Guys, and partly because that's how I've always done it, but banana plugs can be used.
The subwoofer is also well made, and has the power switch located at the back of the unit. This is good because it does not need to be seen by people in the room. There are controls on the front of the sub for the volume and adjustable crossover. There is also a switch to engage the sub's equalizer, which boosts the bass level for movies. Initially I thought this was kinda lame - I'm not going to remember to hit this switch when I go from music listening to movie watching.
After hooking all this up I was ready to flip the switch on the amp. First order of business was to find some music to play. These speakers would be getting double duty, since my tight budget dictated one system for both music and movies. I found a CD from Collective Soul which starts out with some nice drum beats. WOW. My first impression could not have been better. I was amazed at the sound these little speakers put out. About 10 minutes later, however, I noticed that the sound seemed just a little too bright. After playing around with a few more CDs, I popped in a copy of The Matrix and jumped to the lobby shooting spree scene. The subwoofer dramatically came to life and again, I was amazed. But something seemed to not be working quite right. In certain portions of the scene, the bass seemed to cut out. I played around with the crossover setting and that solved the problem. Then I went back to the CDs and found the "too bright" problem was solved as well.
It was certainly refreshing to confirm that the problem was the crossover setting. It's also a good thing the controls were on the front of the subwoofer. It would have been a real pain to adjust this stuff while watching the screen if the controls were located on back on the unit. Some design thought went into that decision. Depending on how much bass you like, you might be able to leave the EQ switch alone. I've left mine in the off position and find that there is plenty of bass for my room.
The S8.2 sub has an 8" driver, but this thing really belts it out. If you've got a small to medium sized room, this is a great piece of equipment. It's really astounding how much of a punch it packs. My buddy who bought the Polk Audio setup heard it and asked if it was a 10" or 12" sub!
The sound from this system is remarkably blended. It's nearly impossible (at least for my ears) to determine where the sub starts to kick in. And the sound is really full - there are no gaps in the sound field where the speakers refuse to perform. When watching movies, the sound flows around the room, and you don't think of the sound effects as emanating from the speaker location. When a phone rings, you don't think "answer the phone in the right speaker."
If you listen to music in a five speaker mode, you will also be happy. Everything sings together so well that wish I would have upgraded my speakers long ago. If you are thinking of this system for home theater, you wont be disappointed. And the beauty is that it works so well for music. Energy says that the break-in period is 50 hours for this system, I'm looking forward to passing that. It's hard to imagine these speakers sounding any better!
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