Energy Take Classic Speaker System
Here’s one more reason to love compact sat/sub sets—besides the fact that they’re affordable, easy to run with any receiver, and capable of anchoring a good-sounding surround system. They make your room look bigger.
Somehow, after years of reviewing these things, I had failed to notice this, at least consciously. But when Energy’s Take Classic displaced my chunky reference monitors, I was amazed at how much more spacious my listening room had become. It was as though the room had gained a foot or two in length and width. My flat-panel TV looked bigger, too.
The Take Classic is the latest generation of a long-running and bestselling train of thought. Energy’s original Take 5 first surfaced in 1997 and was updated as the Take 5.2 in 2002. The new version sports several significant changes. Although the price is still $599, the Take Classic—unlike the Take 5.2—is a full 5.1-channel set including a subwoofer.
Pretty in Black
Like its predecessors, the Take Classic comes in a black medium-density fiberboard enclosure that distinguishes it from many plastic-enclosed competitors in the same price range. Finish is a high-gloss black. The port has been moved from the front to the back, and the grille now has a sporty curve that juts above the top surface.
On the back is a pair of metal-nut gold-plated binding posts. Although they’re on the small side, they weren’t too small to accommodate my reference cables’ banana plugs. Energy provides threaded (0.25-inch) and keyhole mounts—and of course, wall-mounting is always a viable option with speakers of this size.
Energy uses the term Convergent Source Module to describe the driver array. The idea is to keep the drivers close together by mounting them in the same faceplate. Energy says this results in improved dispersion and better integration at the crossover.
Both drivers have changed. The new 0.75-inch aluminum-dome tweeter replaces a previous 1-inch version, which had a polycarbonate layer. Use of pure aluminum is said to improve dispersion and transient response. And the former 3.5-inch laminated-aluminum midwoofer has given way to a 3-inch poly-titanium cone. Energy claims this offers better dispersion at the top of its range, and as part of the Convergent Source Module, it aligns better with the tweeter.
The Take Classic satellite is a two-way design with two drivers. So, surprisingly enough, is the Take Classic center. It eschews the woofer-tweeter-woofer array so common in center speakers in favor of a single woofer and tweeter. The only differences between the satellite and center are that the latter’s enclosure is a little longer, presumably for horizontal placement, and it has two front ports instead of a single back port.
People, the absence of a second woofer is front-page news. It means that this center is more graceful in handling a problem that plagues the vast majority of other dedicated center speakers to some degree. The problem is lobing. While this phenomenon affects all speakers with physically separate drive units, it occurs profoundly in the dispersion patterns of speakers utilizing dual midwoofers operating over the same frequency range. When listened to off axis, they sum and cancel each other differently at various angles. In the case of most horizontal center speakers, the listener in the center seat may enjoy flat frequency response, but the listeners off to the sides won’t. The Take Classic designers deserve credit for doing the right thing where so many others bow to bad habits and marketing inertia.
Room efficiency is specified at 89 decibels. Note the difference between sensitivity and room efficiency. The latter includes the effect of room reflections and is typically a few decibels higher. Although I’ve seen higher efficiency ratings in speakers this size, an average receiver should still run the Take Classic with ease, especially in the kind of small to medium-sized room where sat/sub sets are most appropriate.
The Take Classic subwoofer is similar to Energy’s ESW-8 but with a high-gloss finish to match the other Takes. It has an 8-inch downward-firing polypropylene-cone driver. With no grille, the front-firing 2-inch port is clearly visible. Energy’s patented Ribbed Elliptical Surround is an attempt to improve movement of the driver, allowing greater output. It’s backed with a relatively modest 200-watt Class AB amp.
Controls include knobs for volume and crossover frequency, toggle switches for phase and power, a pair of line-level inputs (no line outs), and a full set of speaker-level ins and outs. The latter are spring-loaded wire clips, not binding posts. That shouldn’t concern you if you’re using the sub in a surround system, since you’ll be running your receiver’s sub-out to the sub’s line-in. But if you’re running speaker cable from two amp channels through the sub to a pair of speakers, you probably should be looking for a sub with a set of high-quality binding posts.
As I was setting up the sub with test tones, I found it necessary to use about 66 percent of its volume control, which is more than I’m used to, indicating less gain than usual. I also had to increase the sub-out level in the setup menu of my trusty old Rotel RSX-1065 A/V receiver. The signal source for this review was an Integra DPS-10.5 universal player.
Three Great Movies—Rent Them All
The Take Classic has a superbly balanced midrange and non-ringy high-frequency response. That makes it a strong performer with music as well as movie content in which music is prominent. The center’s vocal prowess is considerable. And the system as a whole works well both on and off axis, so dialogue is intelligible from any seat in the room. Although it’s not especially forceful, the sub does produce clean pitches.