Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 Home Theater Speaker System Page 3

The Short Form

Price $1,099 (AS TESTED) / definitivetech.com / 410-363-7148
Snapshot
A must-hear for those who insist on a very small, accessibly priced system.
Plus
•Excellent overall tonality •Good bass output, extension •Surprising volume potential
Minus
•Needs careful setup. (But don't they all?) •Center shifts tone at off-axis seats
Key Features
ProMonitor 800 •($250/pair) 1-in dome tweeter; 4.5-in woofer; 4.5-in passive radiator; 8.4 in high; 4 lb ProCenter 1000 •($200) 1-in dome tweeter; (2) 4.5-in woofers; (2) 4.5-in passive radiators; 5 in high; 8 lb ProSub 800 •($399) 8-in driver; 8-in passive radiator; 300-watt RMS amplifier; 12.5 x 14.3 x 13.5 in; 41 lb •Finish: Gloss-black, matte-white, silver. Subwoofer: Black ash or white vinyl
Test Bench
This system has smooth response blemished primarily by a depression centered just below 1 kHz. The subwoofer's high-frequency response to 150 Hz mates well with the limited bass of the upper-channel speakers. It has good low-end extension for a small sub, delivering true 25-Hz output, but only at 76 dB, revealing its dynamic limitations. It averaged 95 dB from 25 to 62 Hz, and put out 103.7 dB max SPL at 62 Hz, all at less than 10% distortion. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results
The ProCenter did a great job on dialogue and as the system's music-and-effects keystone player (the center is always the most important speaker in any movie-surround system). It made an excellent tonal match to the ProMonitors, producing a tight, well-integrated "screen-stage." On the other hand, it demonstrated moderately audible tonal changes when heard from more than about 30° off-axis, becoming slightly muffled and hollow-sounding on many male voices (a consequence of the "lobing" that commonly afflicts the responses of two-way center speakers with horizontal woofer-tweeter-woofer arrays). And like the ProMonitors, the center proved quite sensitive to vertical aiming: As I've mentioned, to keep sounds evenly bright, I had to tilt it up a good bit on my low stand.

I was also very happy with the ProMonitors handling the surround channels. When angled well back to reflect sound from the rear wall as I've described, the little 800s worked particularly well for plain, non-dipole two-way surrounds. (Truly small two-ways like these always seem to work well in this configuration, probably because their small-diameter woofers have wide enough dispersion to avoid the "beaming" that might otherwise help the ear localize them.)

Despite its diminutive, roughly 6-gallon form (smaller than a Texan's lid!), the ProSub 800 proved a worthy support. This little sub produced ample, reasonably even output considerably lower than many other inexpensive 8-inchers (about 35 Hz or so), rolling off fairly quickly below that point. And it played unexpectedly loudly and cleanly: The Definitive would become a bit "grumbly" at very high levels, but thanks no doubt to intelligently engineered limiting circuits, I had to push it to ludicrous settings, well beyond THX-reference from the overall system, to elicit gross rattles or thumps. It had plenty of bottom for the thumping of Collateral's climactic club scene, which indeed the full system delivered in fine, loudly enveloping, smoothly claustrophobic fashion. That said, the ProSub 800 doesn't have the bottom-octave grunt for fully cinematic deep-bass - the near-infrasonic content of a T. rex footfall or the underpinnings of the ram's-horn calls of those War of the Worlds thingies - but it does impressively just the same. (Reality check: This is a $399 subwoofer. And there's a 10-inch , $499 ProSub 1000 that might well do better still.)

BOTTOM LINE The Definitive Technology ProCinema 800 home theater speaker system is a marvelously high-value setup for smaller rooms - and even some not-all-that-small ones. If you've simply got to have really small and (by serious home theater standards) really inexpensive speakers, I don't think you can do very much better.

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