SLIMstage30 Listening Tests and Conclusion
As I mentioned, I had a bit of difficulty getting the SLIMstage30 and the Bravus 8A sub to work in concert. As such, I've reviewed the two separately and have no problems saying that they would work well as a unit. The first thing I wanted to do was test the low end response of both units. To do that, I used my trusty Rives Test CD 2. The SLIMstage30 had usable bass output (usable being defined as that I could hear it at my listening position) with the sub switched to “No” in the menu down to between 63 and 80Hz. I say “between” because apparently the resonance frequency of my Sanus DFV49 was around 63Hz so the test tone made it ring like a bell. I was definitely getting good strong output at 80Hz so the recommended crossover at 110Hz might be a bit conservative. If I was a new owner, I'd consider experimenting with a lower crossover. The Bravus 8A had output down to 31.5Hz which is well below the spec'ed 35Hz. In-room response will do that. What this means is that you have two units that promise to integrate well and give you a very nice, tactile movie experience.
DVD: War of the Worlds
I can't lie and say that I expected much from the SLIMstage30. I've long been an opponent of surroundbars in all but the most extreme of situations (where extreme=divorce or murder). Basically, my attitude towards surround bars has been, "They all suck so you're looking for the least sucky." Fair? No, but that's the way I felt about them. The SLIMstage30 has changed that. From the moment I stuck in War of the Worlds, I was enthralled with how wide and immersive the sound was. While I only rarely (very rarely) ever felt the sound was coming from behind me, I was impressed with the overall width and quality of the front of room sound.
Since I was using the SLIMstage30 without a functioning sub, I was particularly impressed with the amount of bass I was experiencing. While it wasn't bone crushing or teeth jarring by any means, it was tremendously more than you'd ever expect out of your display's speakers. On top of that, the soundstage didn't feel artificial at all. The front of the room sounded like it was full of speakers (well, the front of my room is full of speakers but only the SLIMstage30 was playing). No matter what, using phase (and speakers firing from the top and bottom of the SLIMstage30) isn't ever going to be as good as actually having speakers and the SLIMstage30 is no different. Still, I was quite impressed with the overall sound and quality of the unit.
I plugged the Bravus 8A into my Denon AVR-4310CI and mated it with the RBH TK-5CT tower speakers and Emotiva ERD-1 surrounds. I was impressed immediately with the sound output in my room and the depths that this little sub can plumb. Is it a match for the Axiom EP500 (which normally performs sub duties in my HT)? No. But then again it is a fraction of the price and a fraction of the size. With the SLIMstage30, you are getting the sub for a mere $200 (which a considerably discount from the MSRP of $369) so if you're on the market for a surroundbar, the sub is a no brainer. While I think that as a total solution a wireless connection would have been best, as a standalone sub, the Bravus 8A is very impressive.
DTS DVD: Porcupine Tree: The Incident
While I bought the Porcupine Tree: The Incident for the DVD-A portion, there is a DTS track. One of the nice things about the SLIMstage30 is that it can accept Dobly Digital, DTS, and uncompressed audio. This means that you can connect up your Blu-ray player to it if you want. For this test, I listened to the SLIMstage30 with the DTS 5.1 track and a 24-bit stereo track. For the DTS track I used Movie mode which puts the most information into the surrounds of all the modes and for the stereo track I used Stereo Bypass. The DTS track sounded muddy and confused through the SLIMstage30 with odd moments of the the soundstage collapsing. With the stereo track, the soundstage was wide but the sweetspot was tiny. What this meant was that if you were sitting dead center to the SLIMstage30, the sound was enveloping. If you sat at all off axis, however, it sounded like you were only getting sound into one ear. Obviously, the forte of a surroundbar is movies and TV and this once again rang true with the SLIMstage30.
I'm the guy that loves to hate stuff but in this case, I can't bring myself to hate the SLIMstage30. The price is much more reasonable than the more full featured and capable Yamaha models so it is accessible to a wider range of consumers. The Bravus 8A sub is powerful and capable and the bass response of the SLIMstage30 means that the two will mate well. The sound quality of the SLIMstage30, especially for movies, it impressive and will probably have you shaking your head. The next person that asks me for a surroundbar recommendation and balks at the Yamaha prices will be steered directly toward Aperion. As far as I'm concerned the $799 SLIMstage30/Bravus 8A combo is going to be very hard to beat.
Aperion Audio SLIMStage30
$599 - $799 with Bravus 8A sub
18151 SW Boones Ferry Road
Portland, OR 97224
About Aperion Audio
Aperion Audio is an online direct-to-consumer speaker manufacturer for smart shoppers who are frustrated with the retail experience. Aperion offers a better value, meaningful information, generous service, and unlike other speaker retailers and manufacturers, is the only company to deliver an honest and Totally Risk-Free In-Home Audition. For additional information, visit www.aperionaudio.com.
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