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NHT 02-ARC Outdoor Speaker Sound Quality Tests

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NHT frontI connected the 02-ARC speakers to my Emotiva MPS-1 7CH amplifier that is used for multi-zone audio around the Audioholics Showcase Home which is directly connected to a Yamaha RX-Z7 AV Receiver.  The source was my Yamaha MusicCAST MCX-2000 and cables were the 10AWG from Bluejeans.

I flipped around the music server to a variety of music to get a true understanding of the versatility of the NHT speakers.  I started out with Diana Krall “Popsicle Toes” (a Michael Franks remake).  Diana’s vocals sounded very sultry as it should.  The brushes had great air and the sound was very well separated.  I moved on to Morph the Cat, Donald Fagen’s latest album.  I found the 02-ARC’s once again excelled though there was a bit of heaviness in the upper bass region.  Some of this is in part due to the recording but most of it has to do with the placement of the speakers so close to so many wall surfaces (backwall + ceiling + sidewalls).  This is known as 1/8th space or pi/2 loading which can yield up to +18dB of boundary gain.

I fired up some Latin music as my wife wanted to hear how the 02-ARC’s would render her favorite music.  Corazon Profundo from Carlos Vives was rockin’ our room.  Track #1 “Volví a Nacer” demonstrated that the NHT’s meant business.  They handled the percussions with aplomb and the high frequency detail was excellent, never sounding overly bright or fatiguing.  The elevated treble response we measured really helped with off-axis performance since these speakers were placed a few feet above our heads without the ability of being tilted down.

We finished off our listening session with our wedding song from Richard Marx, “Keep Coming Back.”  I never tire of this great song and feel that Richard Marx is one of the most underrated artists of our time.  The bass produced by the 02-ARC’s was not exceedingly deep but it was well-controlled.  The stereo separation was excellent and the bite in Richard’s voice was well reproduced.  The amount of detail extracted in this recording given the environment the speakers were installed in was most impressive.

Richard Marx Keep Coming Back to You  Corazon Profundo from Carlos Vives

The NHT 02-ARC’s proved to be a significant step up in sound quality, build quality and measurements compared to my reference Axiom M3 Outdoor speakers.  While the Axiom’s reached down a bit lower in extension, they weren’t as clean sounding or tight in the bottom end.  The NHT’s proved to be far more linear, producing a larger, more open soundstage, cleaner more articulate vocals and better separation of instruments.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

hk2000 posts on February 25, 2014 10:25
gene, post: 1019285
Good question Jotham. A 2-way speaker like the 02-ARC performs better when mounted vertically. Horizontal mounting will result in a less even response due to lobing. You can surely mount them like this if you have no other choices but they are designed to be mounted vertically for best performance.

I Never new that. Thanks. Can you explain what lobing is, or point to a link that explains it, thanks. Does this also apply to surround speakers?
Also, a follow up question to Jotham's: Will it matter if they are mounted upside down with the woofer on top, if not, I think NHT should make the mounting bracket longer on one side? That would enable one to mount them low pointing up or high pointing down (Most likely). If the tweeter has to be on top, then obviously that makes them less than ideal for outdoor installation, after all this is for casual listening, No?
gene posts on February 24, 2014 17:54
jotham, post: 1019213
Thank you for the review! After we build our new deck, I'm looking forward to installing 4 new outdoor speakers so this review was very timely.

I do have a question about the mounting that was demonstrated. Wouldn't it make more sense to install them on their side, perhaps with tweeters on the outside? This would give greater adjustability for the sweet spot. I assume there was some acoustical reason it was installed upright but given the particular context, I can't figure it out.

thanks,

Jotham

Good question Jotham. A 2-way speaker like the 02-ARC performs better when mounted vertically. Horizontal mounting will result in a less even response due to lobing. You can surely mount them like this if you have no other choices but they are designed to be mounted vertically for best performance.
jotham posts on February 24, 2014 13:55
Thank you for the review! After we build our new deck, I'm looking forward to installing 4 new outdoor speakers so this review was very timely.

I do have a question about the mounting that was demonstrated. Wouldn't it make more sense to install them on their side, perhaps with tweeters on the outside? This would give greater adjustability for the sweet spot. I assume there was some acoustical reason it was installed upright but given the particular context, I can't figure it out.

thanks,

Jotham
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