DCM TimeFrame TFE200 Home Theater Speaker System Page 3

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The Short Form

Price $2,350 (as tested) / dcmspeakers.com / 800-566-5401
Snapshot
DCM's TimeFrame TFE200 tower is a lot of loudspeaker for the money.
Plus
•Lots of low end with good extension •Fine octave balance for natural voices and instruments •Good surround-channel performance
Minus
•Center-channel tonality changes off-axis •Main speakers need grilles removed for best sound
Key Features
TFE200 ($1,000/pr) •6.5-in woofer, 6.5-in passive radiator, 6.5-in midrange, 1.25-in dome tweeter; 45.8 in high, 21 in deep; 64 lb TFE60C ($350) •6.5-in woofer, 6.5-in passive radiator, 1.25-in dome tweeter; 20.5 in wide, 8 in high; 21.5 lb TP160BDP ($500/pr) •6.5-in woofer, 6.5-in passive radiator, (2) 1-in dome tweeters; 19.8 in wide, 8 in high; 14 lb TB1212 ($500) •12-in cone woofer, 12-in cone passive radiator; 150-watt amplifier; line- and speaker-level inputs, line outputs; variable level and crossover-frequency controls; phase, master power, and auto-on/off switches; 18.8 x 15 x 17.5 in (including drivers, grille, and connectors); 42 lb
Test Bench
The TFE200 has good low-frequency extension, controlled directivity, a fairly deep floor-bounce notch at 260 Hz, and some roughness above 400 Hz. The TFE60C center, meanwhile, demonstrated some lobing even directly on-axis, which grew considerably worse as the microphone was moved off center. The TP160BDP bidirec-tional surround has a notice-able null at 2 kHz. The TB1212 sub produced 112 dB at 62 Hz, but its SPL capability falls off at 30 dB/octave below that frequency. - Tom Nousaine
And as for the matching TP160BDP surround speaker, despite its front-panel "Dipole/Bipole" switch, it's a single-woofer design; the second cone is a passive radiator. So the switch only throws the tweeters out of phase - which certainly has an effect, albeit a much milder and less audible one than from a true midrange-dipole surround, as with THX-certified models. Nevertheless, the TP160BDP proved a perfectly competent number, dutifully delivering ambience and effects with solid tonality and plenty of clean level in my 2,500-cubic-foot studio.

The TB1212 that DCM sent, a member of its new subwoofer corps, deploys a pair of 12-inch (duh!) cones - one active driver and one passive radiator - firing forward and downward in a fairly compact cabinet. This frankly didn't add much to the party: It didn't appear to go much lower or louder than the TFE200 towers on their own, and it suffered a bit of a "wolf" note or range near A-natural (around 55 Hz) that boomed noticeably whenever the music or the movie soundtrack contained strong elements straddling that pitch. For example, in Chapter 16 of The Italian Job (Wahlberg, not Caine, alas), the score includes a synth-drum sound that attacks at around A-flat and glisses down an octave as it fades. With the DCM sub in the system, the attack was a bit stronger. But with my (level-matched) everyday sub in its place, the sensual infrabass that's reached at the slide's lowest extreme was easily audible; with the TB1212, it was completely absent. (I hasten to add that the price of my everyday sub is three times that of the DCM sub.) I found that by connecting the TB1212 to my LFE output and rolling its crossover to its minimum setting (there's no filter-defeat control or crossover-bypass input), I could suppress this emphasis a bit and glean some additional total bass output, though with no important extension of depth, on big-bass effects.

But despite these quibbles, the DCM speaker suite makes for pretty damned hard-hitting home theater. The Italian Job is a legit big-screen audiofest, and it sounded exciting and impressive via the DCMs, with clear dialogue and crisp, high-impact effects. Watching a good hour of the film (for the umpteenth time), I forgot all about my fault-finding and simply enjoyed a complete, cinema-scaled, big-sound experience.

BOTTOM LINE DCM's latest speakers have a long tradition to carry forward, and the DCM TimeFrame TFE200s do so quite well. The system really doesn't need this particular subwoofer - and if you add a sub at all, it should be one with substantial extension and output below 35 Hz. But the core five channels do a good job, with impressive size, at a great price.

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