Artison Portrait Home Theater Speakers

Artison is a new speaker company with more going for it than just a clever name. It also boasts an impeccable pedigree (creator Cary Christie was a founder of industry pillar Infinity), some classy, smart industrial design, and a well-considered answer to the puzzle of how to mate plasma TVs with serious home theater speakers.

And a puzzle it is, because anyone seeking synergy by keeping the speakers flat and sleek-looking will encounter two problems. First, conventional speakers are not designed to sound their best up against a wall. Second, placing a center speaker above or below your spiffy new wall-mounted screen wrecks the flat-panel aesthetic - at least in the eyes of budget-dictating spouses and designers.

Enter Artison's Portrait system, which consists of two small, quasi-dipole surround speakers and a pair of front-channel speakers with a few tricks up their sleeves. That's right, a pair - there is no dedicated center speaker. Each Portrait LCR front speaker has two woofer/tweeter arrays stacked in a single, bazooka-slim cabinet, plus a third, side-firing tweeter. The lower pair directs left- or right-channel sound straight ahead, with the side tweeter widening the perceived soundstage. The upper woofer/tweeter array is angled inward to reproduce the center channel (in conjunction with the corresponding woofer/tweeter in the LCR on the opposite side of the screen).

PDF: Fast Facts

The Portrait system's other big hook is how it's installed. Rather than supplying the kind of generic wall-mounts or stands most other flattish speakers come with, Artison delivers the Portrait LCRs with brackets and grilles that are specifically designed to match your particular brand and model of plasma or LCD TV. The brackets actually attach the speakers to the TV, forming a single, visually united whole.

For our test system, this meant a pair of brackets fashioned to bolt up to a 50-inch Fujitsu P50XHA30 plasma panel. The brackets attached to the existing holes in the back left and right edges of the Fujitsu's bezel (no drilling required) with supplied, heavy-duty machine screws. The brackets themselves are adjustable so you can align each LCR's top, bottom, and front with the edges of the TV. The result was a sleek, factory-installed look - no one would suspect that these speakers weren't part of the TV itself.