Boston Acoustics Plasma Series Home Theater Speakers

Until some enterprising soul invents a software-defined virtual speaker, designers of real speakers will keep trying to make them less obtrusive. That's certainly the idea behind Boston Acoustics' P400, star of the company's Plasma Series. This elegant design squeezes the front three speakers of a home theater system into a single sleek aluminum semicylinder meant to be placed above or below a flat-panel TV. Of course, front speakers alone don't make surround sound, so Boston supplied a pair of matching Plasma Series P430 surround speakers and a PV1000 subwoofer (right) to accompany the P400. The P430 is essentially one-third of the P400, with the same driver complement as the left and right front speakers. Both come with black and silver grilles. Mounted on the wall with the supplied brackets, they're less than 5 inches deep. (Floor stands are optional.) The PV1000 is downward-firing with a passive radiator on the back panel.

SETUP I put the P400 just beneath my 42-inch plasma HDTV. Since I wasn't in a hurry to drill more holes in my walls, I used a stand that put its back flush to the wall. Wearing either its black or silver grille, the P400 blended in nicely. The silver matched the TV almost exactly, but the black made everything look less imposing. Boston Acoustics Plasma speakers

I put the P430 surrounds on my usual high, side-wall shelves, while the PV1000 went in my subwoofer sweet spot, on the floor to the left of the left front speaker - or where the left front usually is. In my everyday setup, the front left and right speakers stand about 7 feet apart, but the acoustic centers of the P400's left and right sections are only about 4 feet apart, so I was anxious to hear just how well the P400 would spread the L/R channels in stereo playback.