Sunfire HRS home theater speaker system Page 2

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MOVIE PERFORMANCE

Sunfire bills the High Resolution Series primarily as a home theater system, so let's start with DVDs. But not the usual action flicks. I want to talk about Soccer Dog: European Cup, which chronicles the journey of an American boy who, after his mother's untimely death, is left in the care of his father, a fun-loving Scot he never knew. It's a story about facing your responsibilities. It's a story about learning to love. It's also a story about a genetically enhanced, soccer-playing superdog being chased by a mad scientist. The fact that you can buy a used copy on Amazon.com for 1¢ tells you everything else you need to know about this movie. (Why did I watch it? Because my ex-wife thought it might provide an evening of emotional bonding for me and our Labrador retrievers.)

To my surprise, the HRS system almost magically extracted the best from this dreck-on-DVD. The movie's ska soundtrack slammed through the speakers, keeping my interest through the turgid dialogue. Both my nerve endings and my room pulsed along with the subwoofer during the climactic, bouncy theme "Canis Lupus (The Domestication of the Dog)." So, yeah, the movie sucked. But thanks to the HRS system, I found something in it to enjoy - and I watched it all the way through.

This almost alchemical ability to turn any material into gold recurred again and again as I auditioned the HRS system. TV fare like HBO's John Adams benefited from the speakers' great dialogue clarity and crisp reproduction of musical scores. The sub's 1,000-watt amp and the satellites' 200-watt power handling lent heavy hitters like The Incredibles and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King a thrilling, forceful impact. The sound was a bit thin and bright at times, but overall I loved it. It sometimes seemed as if a high-end, custom-installed speaker system were hiding somewhere in the walls of my listening room.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE

In the same way the HRS system found a heartbeat in Soccer Dog: European Cup, it breathed new life into my CD collection. The Vifa tweeter delivered sound that bordered on holographic. Guiro, bells, and other percussion on singer Bebel Gilberto's self-titled bossa/electronica CD zipped around my listening room like June bugs on crystal meth. Snare drums snapped with the precision and intensity of a military marching band. Horns took on an almost vocal level of expression.

Despite all my tweaking, I did sense an imperfect match between the subwoofer and the satellites. But the high quality of the HRS system's drivers outweighed this downside. The gap between the sub and the other speakers made voices sound somewhat thin at times, but they were always clear. In a similar vein, I noticed that the treble sometimes sounded elevated in level, yet it was always smooth.

BOTTOM LINE

The last line of my listening notes - "These sound really good with everything" - nicely sums up my feelings about Sunfire's HRS speaker system. Putting so much expense into such a small system must have given Sunfire's accounting team an ulcer or two, but the HRS's versatile, visceral performance will make it popular among home theater enthusiasts with deep pockets and modest living spaces.

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