NHT Verve Home Theater Speaker System

the listWe A/V mavens tend to sneer a little (okay, a lot) at those who choose sleek, on-wall aesthetics over all-out audio chops (damn the cost in looks, livability, or length of marriage). But in the dark night of my soul, I confess that if I wasn't one of Us, I'd almost certainly be one of Them.

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The appeal of speakers that mount on the wall, look great, and eliminate visual clutter is difficult to deny. And it's not lost on speaker makers, including NHT, one of the smaller but no less well-respected American manufacturers. The company has rarely seemed afraid of thinking and designing a little differently, as this NHT Verve home theater speaker system quietly demonstrates.

NHT offers a range of Verve systems, and the 5.1-channel system reviewed here, designated Verve IV, incorporates three models: V Large, V Small, and V Woofer. The first two are subcompacts formed of a thin-but-strong molded composite material finished in handsome piano-black. Both monitors use the same three-way configuration, with the tweeter suspended over the midrange driver, though the V Large earns its name from the second woofer that provides for a bit more power-handling and makes the tapered speaker symmetrical for use as a horizontal center channel. This is accomplished by simply shifting the supplied plastic tabletop/shelf stand.

The V Woofer is the most unusual of the trio, looking more like a small widescreen TV than a subwoofer. Nevertheless, it houses a pair of 10-inch aluminum cones, and the requisite amplification, but is just 7 inches deep, allowing virtually flush-to-the-wall location - a very cool and livable layout. The sub has just a single line-level input and a level knob on the front. NHT presumes, fairly, that crossover chores will be handled by an A/V receiver or processor. As to the lack of a phase control, NHT points out that virtually all such components have a setup "distance" adjustment that performs the same function but with greater precision.