Energy Take 5.2 surround speaker system

When it comes to surround-speaker systems, good things rarely come in small packages. Microsatellites and little subwoofers typically sound thin and anemic, with poor tonal balance and low volume capabilities. Yet there are many situations (e.g., small apartments, dorm rooms, guest rooms) in which such speakers would be ideally suited, if only they produced a reasonably good sound.

A notable exception to the "small-speakers-equal-poor-sound" rule comes from Energy Speaker Systems, a Canadian manufacturer with a reputation for exquisite-sounding products. In addition to several larger audiophile models, Energy offers the Take 5.2 satellite system, based on the company's original (and well-received) Take 5 package. My theater room is quite small (16x13x8 feet), so I was eager to try this system in it.

The Energy Take 5.2 system consists of five small satellite speakers; the subwoofer is sold separately. All speakers are magnetically shielded, and the cabinets are constructed from MDF (instead of plastic, as many such products are) with a classy, high-gloss finish. (The S8.2 sub is available only in non-gloss black ash.) All speakers in the system use a bass-reflex design with front ports, which extends the bass response and allows greater flexibility in placement than rear ports.

The front and rear right and left channels are handled by four Take 2.2 speakers, which measure only 63/4 inches tall by 6 deep and 4 wide. These two-way satellites employ a 1-inch multi-laminated, aluminum-dome tweeter with neodymium magnet, and an ultrasonic acoustic filter is said to provide uniform dispersion and improved imaging while protecting the tweeter's delicate cone surface. The mids and upper low end are handled by a 31/2-inch long-throw woofer with injection-molded homopolymer and aluminum cone, NBR rubber surround, and 9.5-oz magnet structure. A single, slot-shaped port appears below the woofer. The grille is strangely bulbous, with round protrusions in front of the drivers. On the back, two multiway binding posts allow a variety of speaker-cable connections. This is far superior to the spring-loaded clips found on many small satellite speakers.

The center channel is served by the Take 1.2, which, like virtually all dedicated center-channel models, is horizontally oriented. The Take 1.2 is somewhat larger than the 2.2 (though by no means can it be called "large"), measuring 11 inches wide by 4 high and 6 deep. It uses the same drivers as the Take 2.2, with two woofers flanking a central tweeter. In addition, there are two ports on the right and left outer edges of the front baffle. The Take 1.2's grille is a simpler affair, gently curving outward and back again from top to bottom, with a slight protrusion in front of the tweeter. As on the Take 2.2, there are two binding posts on the back.

For this review, I got the $300 S8.2 powered subwoofer (not included in the Take 5.2's $600 price). A single 8-inch, long-throw driver uses a new injection-molded cone with polypropylene/mica/glass spheres and TPE (thermal plastic elastomer) rubber surround, which are said to offer faster transient response, and better detail and resolution with low distortion. The power behind the cone is a class-A/B MOSFET amplifier that delivers 100W RMS continuously and up to 400W RMS peaks. (Other subs are available from Energy, including a 10-inch model, the S10.2, which is otherwise identical to the S8.2.)

The sub's front-mounted port is a new design, and all controls—level, cutoff frequency, and Audio/Video EQ switch—are also found on the front, which is very convenient. The level and lowpass dials are concave and flush-mounted, with a radial insert that makes the dials easy to operate.