NHT Verve Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

The Short Form

Price $1,999 / nhthifi.com / 800-NHT-9993
This flexible packaged solution looks great on the wall and will fit lots of rooms (and budgets), delivering honest, well-balanced sound.
•Nice big image, despite on-wall location •Solid center-channel spread, performance •Brilliantly compact, ergonomic subwoofer •Flexible layout adapts well to wall, stand, or shelf mounts
•Bottom-octave output falls a bit short •Low-midrange warmth could be emphatic in some rooms
Key Features
V Large •(2) 4.5-in cone woofers, 3-in cone midrange, 1-in dome tweeter; 15.5 in high (16.5 in high incl. base); 13 lb V Small •4.5-in cone woofer, 3-in cone midrange, 1-in dome tweeter; 10.8 in high (11.8 in high incl. base); 9 lb V Woofer •(2) 10-in aluminum cones; 200-watt amplifier; 16.9 x 23.3 x 6 in (7.8 in incl. base); 29 lb
Test Bench
The V Large measured nearly identical when used both vertically and horizontally, thanks to the coaxial midrange/tweeter that avoids off-axis lobing typical of horizontal center channels. Thus, all the satellites should sound the same, adhering to a flat but slightly up-tilted response curve that measured about 2 dB "hot" above 8 kHz. The V Woofer had limited low-end dynamics, averaging 95 dB from 25 to 62 Hz, and hitting max SPL of 104 dB at 50 Hz. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results

SETUP I placed the V Large left/right sats on stands almost directly against the wall, flanking my Samsung 50-inch DLP TV. This put their baffles just a couple inches behind the screen's plane - essentially the same as if they were wall-mounted (this is optimal for the speaker's voicing, according to NHT). The third V Large, positioned horizontally, went on a stand below the screen, while the V Smalls used as surrounds rested per usual on high shelves flanking the listening area and aimed slightly to the rear.

Balancing up the Verve system required a bit of experimentation with the V Woofer's location, as well as with the level, crossover, and "distance" settings on my preamp. NHT recommended a crossover of 100 Hz between the sub and satellites, but I ultimately settled on 90 Hz. I further found that my usual location for a subwoofer (left of the left-front speaker) did not deliver the best blend; moving the sub to the right-front corner and retrimming the sub's level delivered a clear improvement in both clarity and extension.

MUSIC PERFORMANCE I quickly confirmed that the V Large speakers do not possess enough low-frequency capacity for any sort of serious listening on their own (nor are they intended to), so I proceeded quickly to 2.1-channel stereo listening with the subwoofer engaged. My impression was of a slightly warm but generously detailed balance, with very good vocal accuracy and smooth, reasonably extended treble. The Verve system produced a surprisingly deep, out-in-the-room stereo image from well-recorded material. Many on-, in-, or flush-to-the-wall speakers image fairly two-dimensionally, but the NHTs did a good bit better.

The V Large also scored quite well on the "James Taylor test." J.T.'s whipped-butter baritone is tough to beat for exposing midrange warts. Speakers that might seem level and accurate on voices that contain more treble - for example, Sting's - can reveal a vestigial touch of "hoo" or boom from Taylor's voice on a track like "Line 'Em Up" from Hourglass. And in fact, the NHTs' presentation was to my ear a shade over-rich in the lower chest tones of Taylor's mellifluous vocals, though well short of the level that I would characterize as "hoo." And I'm not sure I'd have noted it without having made direct comparisons to my everyday speakers, whose slightly "analytical" sound is unabashedly on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The V Woofer did a fine job filling in the missing octaves down to perhaps 35 Hz, but it didn't seem to have a great deal of oomph much lower. The same Taylor CD carries about as much bass level as you'll find on a pop production, making it ideal for checking sub/sat blend and flatness. Although the V Large speakers matched well with the V Woofer through the crossover zone, the system initially sounded a bit heavy around 60 Hz, which may have robbed it of some bottom-octaves impact. In any case, moving the V Woofer to the corner improved evenness noticeably and upped the perceived deep-bass impact somewhat.