Speakers AlFresco NHT O2


Performance
Build Quality
Value
NHT O2 Outdoor Speaker

Price: $199 each At A Glance: Plays loud and smooth • Solid imaging • Strong bass emphasis

First, let’s get one thing clear: NHT’s O2 outdoor speaker is spelled with a capital O. Googling 02, with a zero, will be both confusing and futile. Of course, the O stands for “outdoor”—and that’s the kind of speaker this is. The O2 is the only speaker in this review that makes no claims about indoor use. “Because we know outside is where the parties happen, the O2 has been specifically engineered to play loud without complaint and specially tuned to make deep bass outdoors,” NHT’s Website says. That may make the speaker too robust for typical indoor home use, as NHT’s John Johnsen says. But he adds that the bass tuning and the speaker’s overall ruggedness make it a good choice for more challenging indoor spaces such as bars, nightclubs, and health clubs.

NHT does not make a distinction between weatherproof and weather-resistant—specs describe the O2 in both ways. Minnesota winters and Arizona summers won’t faze these speakers: They are designed to withstand temperatures of minus-20 to plus-140 degrees. Protected installation is optional, Johnsen says: “They will last longer and look nicer when mounted under eaves and covered decks, which protect them from UV rays, even though they have UV protection.”

NHT cofounder Chris Byrne adds: “During summer months, the speakers can be in an unprotected place assuming not a lot of heavy rainfall. While they are weather-resistant, sooner or later direct exposure to the elements may cause problems. We do not recommend leaving them out in cold, harsher winter climates. They need to be brought in for the winter if you want them to last. Morning dew, mist, etc. during summer months should cause no issues.”

This two-way speaker has a 6.5-inch polypropylene woofer and fluid-cooled and -damped fabric dome tweeter in a mica-filled polypropylene enclosure. While the woofer is similar to that in NHT’s Model Two bookshelf speaker, the tweeter and enclosure are decidedly different. Both drivers are slightly recessed—enough to warrant a little toe-in for best soundstaging, but not enough to induce beaminess. The upper half of the baffle is dimpled to control diffraction. The O2’s flat, detachable grille has six plastic pins in rubber grommets. The C-bracket has just three perforations: two T-shaped keyholes on either side of a half-inch center hole. There is also a threaded insert on the back of the cabinet, offering the option of installing a more versatile mount—perhaps one with a ball joint that would afford any combination of vertical and horizontal tilt.

All the speakers in this review are rated for power handling of up to 125 watts. However, the O2 has the highest minimum recommended power at 25 watts (versus 10 for Boston and 5 for Niles). It is also the only one with a nominal impedance of six ohms (versus eight for the others). On paper, that may make it slightly more demanding, although I didn’t have any trouble running it (and the other two) with a Pioneer Elite VSX-53 receiver.

While all of these speakers have strong bass response for their size, the O2’s was the strongest. The unison string-bass/piano bassline in the title track from Geri Allen’s The Gathering was overwhelming—though I was listening indoors in my reference room on my reference system, and outdoors I’m sure I’d have felt differently. The thundering bass guitar riff that kicks off Joan Osborne’s “Right Hand Man” (Relish), swooping in a field of tremolo-drenched guitars, took a few extra prisoners.

The O2 played the loudest of the three speakers with the least audible strain—and practically demanded it, in fact, by getting bland at lower volumes. The speaker’s ingratiatingly warm tonal balance made blasting painless: Sandy Denny’s dynamically eloquent vocal in “Banks of the Nile” from Fotheringay’s debut album didn’t go thin or steely when she pushed the envelope. The biting guitars in Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” were excitingly buzzy but not abrasively gritty, while the more rolled-off guitar sound of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” hit my midrange-dominated pleasure center head-on. In “Natty Dread” by Bob Marley & the Wailers—the raucous live version from On XRT: Live from the Archives, Vol. 2—crowd noise whooped and hollered across the soundstage. This track is impressively rowdy on any equipment, at any volume, but at the party-hearty level supported by the O2, I felt I was in the heart of a lively crowd.

The NHT has a five-year warranty.

Specs
Type: Two-way dome monitor
Tweeter (size in inches, type): 1, polyester fabric
Woofer (size in inches, type): 6.5, polypropylene
Nominal Impedance (ohms): 6
Recommended Amp Power (watts): 25-125
Available Finishes: White polypropylene
Dimensions (W x H x D, inches): 7.3 x 11.7 x 7.5
Weight (pounds): 7.2
Price: $199/each

Company Info
NHT
(800) 648-9993
nhthifi.com

HT Labs Measures
Sensitivity: 88.5 dB from 500 Hz to 2 kHz

This graph shows the quasi-anechoic (employing close-miking of the woofer) frequency response of the O2 outdoor speaker (purple trace). The passive loudspeaker was measured with the grille at a distance of 1 meter with a 2.83-volt input.

The O2’s listening-window response (a five-point average of axial and +/–15-degree horizontal and vertical responses) measures +0.91/–3.87 decibels from 200 hertz to 10 kilohertz. An average of axial and +/–15-degree horizontal responses measures +1.32/–2.95 dB from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The –3dB point is at 76 Hz, and the –6dB point is at 66 Hz. Impedance reaches a minimum of 4.30 ohms at 162 Hz and a phase angle of –45.12 degrees at 98 Hz. —MJP

Share | |
COMMENTS
Toslink's picture

Hi, Mark:

Excellent article. I’d like to chime in on an approach to backyard audio that I rarely see advocated in publications—but one that I’ve had great success with. I work for a large audio-video-control retailer. About three years ago we made the switch from “8-ohm” speakers and amplifiers to commercial 70-volt speakers and amplifiers for outdoor sound systems where the client is looking for an immersive audio system that blends into their outdoor environment. The key advantage of a 70v system is it allows an almost unlimited number of speakers to be used-—provided the relationship between speaker power settings and amplifier's output wattage is adhered to.

We place the speakers very close together (~5ft to 6ft apart), generally on custom aluminum speaker stakes near ground level hidden behind shrubs at the perimeter of the yard with the speakers pointed into the listening area. This allows the system to "blanket" the listening area, with a near constant acoustic output through the listening area. Placing the speakers low and pointing into the yard helps keep the sound in the listening area, rather then projecting it into the neighbor's yard. A typical "large" system has between six and 25 speakers distributed throughout the yard.

We describe it as the “Disney Land Experience”, where their excellent outdoor audio system provides a near constant sound level as you walk through the park. This is accomplished by using more speakers with lower power per speaker vs. higher power and fewer speakers.

One additional advantage is since 70v is a “bus” system, where multiple speakers are wired (parallel wiring connection) into single 2-conductor speaker cable, a backyard can be wired with fewer cables compared with an 8-ohm system. Oftentimes, a yard can be wired with as few as one 2-conductor cable. This makes the installation of the speaker cable a snap. We always use direct-burial rated cable and we follow NEC electrical code guidelines to meet minimum burial depth requirements.

As far as brands go, we’ve had great success with the Crown and Extron 70v audio amplifier lines. For speakers, we most often use the JBL Control 25AV monitors. They’re excellent!

Just another angle to view larger outdoor audio systems. Perhaps the Home Theater readers will consider this approach. Or, perhaps this might make a good topic for an article in the magazine. Who knows, right?

--david

Jeff D's picture

I bought these speakers in early 2k, purchased at Best Buy, for around 50 bucks. They have 4" poly woofer, 2" cone poly mid and a 5/8" piezo mylar dome, with an all aluminum case and grill w/plastic capped binding posts, also non-ported design. The reason for the long explaination, didn't think they were still available, found online for six bucks!? These have been great speakers when you consider they're tiny size,and price. Still use them every summer, they are definitely waterproof, made the mistake of leaving them out all winter, still sounded great in the spring! We eventually bought three more pairs. I have tried them both ways, v. or h., liked verticle the best. I'm sure they are not aluminum anymore but at this price I could afford several pairs as long as they sound good, as you can tell I really like these. They are small enough to hide and still preform. Though, I will ask, are 70v systems expensive to put together, know what it is, just have no experience. Have really large yard, am considering the different options.

lxiindley1's picture

hi and also was looking for actual post submit Locksmith Boston. I have been recently looking relating to this unique assistance on-line regarding total several a long time today because of this thanks. Locksmith Chillum

X
Enter your Sound & Vision username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading
setting var node_statistics_99038