Aperion Audio Novus 5.0.2 Speaker System Review Page 2

from the seating position I use for watching movies, and 9 feet from the closer seat I prefer for stereo music. To more closely align my ears with the output of the tweeters, I tilted the towers back a bit more than the already modest tilt offered by their angled baffles. I didn't use either the provided spikes or the removable grilles for any of my listening. The center speaker was on a low stand and angled up slightly toward the listening seats, while the surrounds were positioned slightly behind the listening position and elevated a foot above seated ear height.

The system's front end included a Marantz AV8805 preamp-processor and three channels of a five-channel Parasound Halo A 52+ amplifier driving the front speakers. The disc players used were an Oppo UDP-203 for movies and a Marantz UD7007 for music. Two channels of a five-channel Outlaw 750 amplifier drove the two surrounds. The SVS SB-3000 subwoofers were positioned where they gave reasonably consistent results for both music and movies. When used, they crossed over to the Novus speakers at 80 Hz.

Music Performance
All of music listening was done using CDs as a source. The Novus towers alone produced a solid stereo soundstage. Well-recorded, close-miked solo female vocals from the likes of Norah Jones, Jennifer Warnes, and Danish singer Sinne Eeg, while a bit forward in a manner common to pop recordings, were involving. Male vocals were sometimes just a little too warm, but that's a characteristic of my listening room. The top end on some of these vocal recordings was just a little sweet and less airy than I prefer, but on more complex recordings, particularly those with hard- driving detail, the Novus towers didn't disappoint. Guitar strings on Nils Lofgren's Acoustic Live concert from 1997 snapped with authority, and cymbals and other high frequency details on Dead Can Dance's In Concert grabbed my attention.


Nothing I listened to suggested that the Novus towers were editorializing on the music. Vocals never sounded nasal or fizzy, and they did an admirable job of walking the delicate line between bland and aggressive at the top end. But the deep bass was initially underwhelming in my very large room. That didn't surprise me, since even larger speakers have struggled in this space, some of them with prices that more than match their lofty ambitions. But the Novus Towers' bass shortcomings were significant, even for my room.

As it turned out, one of the original two samples was defective, with a severe bass rolloff below 100Hz. This was confirmed by in-room measurements, with each speaker positioned, in turn, at the same location to equalize any room effects. And while a defective sample has been rare in my experience, in this case it might well have been internal shipping damage.

Aperion followed up over- night with a properly functioning replacement. While the result still wasn't a bass revelation—which would have been a shock given what's essentially

a small tower speaker in a very large room—it was more than satisfying. Small ensembles featuring acoustic standup bass and including the work of some of the vocalists mentioned above, produced tight, detailed, and well-integrated bass. On more challenging material, the speakers sounded well-balanced and never thin. While they still didn't exactly wake up the echoes at the bottom end, I'd expect that many buyers will find the Novus tower's bass more than impressive on most music in smaller rooms than mine.

When I fired up the two SVS subwoofers the results were transformative. The opening bass riff on Toto's "I Will Remember" lit up the room, while the bass drum driving Bo Steif Dream Machine's "Heart" sounded deep and powerful. The blend between the towers and the subs was seamless, though getting the same results will, of course, depend on your setup. But there's no doubt that the Novus tower's big room performance will be upgraded dramatically with the addition of one or more good subwoofers.


Movies Performance
The manner in which the Aperion speakers, as supplemented by subwoofers, came alive on a wide range of music left no doubt that they would profit big-time from the same assistance on movies. First up was Blade Runner 2049 on Ultra HD Blu-ray. This film's astonishing soundtrack ranges from quiet dialogue to hyper action. The sense of spaciousness that the system conveyed here was first-class. Surround activity was spot-on, and the music, with its strong electronic element, blew me away.

I often sample the final act of Oblivion for its wide range of audio challenges, from the knockout score to the aggressive but controlled action. Again, the Aperion system threw a huge bubble of sound while still capturing all the important details. The same held for Showman, a musical with a soundtrack that could challenge a good audiophile recording. The Novus system didn't disappoint with either film.

The Novus center speaker was a star player through all of this. While it didn't match the timbre of the left and right towers particularly well in my room (a perfect center match is rare due to positioning differences), this was noticeable only on the band-limited pink noise I use to set channel levels, and never a distraction in actual use. More importantly, dialogue from the center speaker was always natural, with a total lack of bloat or distracting fizzy sibilants.


All of the above listening was performed without the Aperion A5 height modules. But I later hooked them up mounted atop the front towers and used an AudioControl Avalon G4 ampli- fier to drive them.

I first played selections from a Dolby Atmos demo disc. It came as no surprise that the Atmos channels were often startlingly effective. But previous experiences with a similarly reflective KEF setup last year in the same room indicated that Atmos overhead effects on movie discs were infrequent and often buried by the louder main channels. The same held true when I auditioned Oblivion, Sing, and episode 3 of Game of Thrones: Season 8. The contribution of Atmos to either the sound effects, music, or both on any of discs was only rarely, and intermittently, dramatic. Of the three discs Sing surprisingly made the best use of Atmos, including scenes with helicopters and a tsunamic building demolition.

My past experience with Aperion Audio products suggested that the Novus system would be a winner, and it is. While it couldn't quite match the excitement offered by my higher-priced Monitor Audio Silver 10-based system, if the Silvers disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't feel deprived with this Novus rig taking its place.

Aperion Audio