Canton CD 200 Series Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

The Short Form
$2,599 / / 612-706-9250
•Lovely brushed-aluminum finish •Solid tonal balance •Good center-channel consistency
•Bass loosens slightly at very high volumes •Not ideal for large rooms 0607_canton_movie
Key Features
•CD 250 front left/right/center ($500); 1-in alloy-dome tweeter, 2 x 4-in aluminum woofer; 16.9 in high; 7.7 lb •CD 220 front surround ($500/pr); 1-in alloy-dome tweeter, 4-in aluminum woofer; 8.8 in high; 6.6 lb •AS 100 SC active subwoofer ($599); 10-in driver; 100-watt amplifier; 11.6 x 19.9 x 16.9 in; 40 lb •Brushed aluminum or black (CD 250, 200); black, silver, beech, or cherry (AS 100 SC) •Price $2,599
Test Bench
The Canton CD 250 and CD 220 front and surround speakers share limited bass capability, but their uniform directivity means that all channels deliver the same timbre to all listeners. Though the AS 100 SC subwoofer has strong output at 62 Hz (106.5 dB maximum SPL), it has unusually limited low-frequency output; SPL drops to 92 dB at 50 Hz, and the sub cannot cleanly exceed 80 dB SPL at 40 Hz or below without obtrusive driver-suspension noise. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results
MUSIC QUALITY Canton's slim front trio immediately impressed me with its wide, clean, seamless image, which spread from the left speaker to the right (and a touch beyond each) with solid, spacious stereo imaging. As is my regular practice, I next tried the CD 250s in full-range ("large") mode, but it was no sale: The elegant minis put up a brave fight but simply lack the sub-100-Hz output to deliver satisfying music listening, even at modest levels.

But no matter - despite the specs, these speakers aren't really made for full-range sound, and reactivating the subwoofer worked wonders. Bass heft and cleanliness were restored, and the speakers delivered a big, deep, satisfyingly dynamic presentation. For example, Chris Isaak's channeling of Roy Orbison on "Only the Lonely," from The Baja Sessions, reproduced all of the singer's meticulously modulated breathiness and "head tones" with great detail.

Overall tonal balance was quite natural, with just the faintest hint of extra warmth in the lower midrange frequencies (which I'd rate more as euphony than any bothersome coloration). The speakers also had a relaxed mid-treble that wasn't recessed enough to subtract any detail but worked to give them a touch less "air" than I'm used to with my reference speakers.

After I experimented with placement, something required for any new sub, the AS 100 SC sub mated to the CD 250 fronts with a lean, boom-free balance I found quite pleasing. Listeners whose tastes demand more oomph in the 80- to 160-Hz octave may find its delivery a bit restrained, but in my setup it worked very well. That said, I found the Canton sub to lack both the ultimate weight below 50 Hz and the across-the-band tightness of my everyday sub - which alone cost more than half as much as this entire system.

The Canton system proved very capable on multichannel music. Recordings such as the SACD mix of Elvis Costello's North sounded brilliantly transparent and spatially cohesive. The Canton suite produced plenty of level for fully involved listening, but these are small speakers, and in my 2,900-cubic-foot room, at least, "pretty loud" was the effective limit. Above this point the system could sound a bit congested and even harsh, and the sub audibly ran out of gas in the lowest frequencies.