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Definitive Technology BP9080x, BP9060, CS9060 Setup & Listening Tests

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The Definitive 5.0.4 setup came on a wooden pallet for delivery. Definitive does an outstanding job packaging the speakers, giving you that "pride of ownership" experience. Each of the towers required attaching the aircraft-grade aluminum bottom plate and corresponding spikes or hardwood floor guides for hardwood floors. Both feet can be used to level the speaker on whatever flooring surface you have in your space. Build quality for all parts was outstanding. There was nothing cheap or second class in my experience. Setup took about an hour.

Unboxing the Definitive Technology Speakers

Definitive provides you with a graphical step-by-step unboxing.

The BP9080x and BP9060 have a rectangular design with beveled edges. Both models feature a slender front profile with elongated sides. Visually, it's brilliant. The speakers seem far smaller to the eye than they actually are—those with WAF-challenged setups may find that this Definitive setup is a panacea.

The flagship BP9080x is physically larger than the BP9060 and the built-in Dolby Atmos enabled speakers on top are housed in a silver grille. You don't have the option for another color. Furthering the visual appeal for many, the entire speaker is fully wrapped in an acoustically transparent grille. You can have any color you want so long as it's black.

Definitive Technology spiked feet options

The accessories box comes with the speaker's footing and spiked feet options. There are traditional spikes and flat feet for hardwood floors.

Having had countless speakers with piano black finishes in for review, I’m always fearful of tiny scratches or nicks. I felt as though Definitive’s fabric wrapping will be far more forgiving over time. I will caution that you will need to be careful about catching or pulling the fabric. Should you damage the fabric, there's no way you'll be able to repair it yourself; you'll need to send it back to Definitive Tech for repair. My review setup had clearly made the rounds and had an ever-so-slight pull in one of the towers. Even though the speaker is fully wrapped, the fabric didn't slide or prevent me from moving the speakers as needed.

Listening Tests

I had the unique opportunity to live with the Definitive setup for almost 10 months, testing the system with different equipment and every imaginable kind of content—from hi-res music, streaming, to 4K/UHD Blu-ray.

The associated equipment for the review consisted of my mainstays, the excellent Denon AVR-X7200WA AVR, a JVC DLA-X570R 4K e-shift projector, Oppo UDP-203 4K/UHD Blu-ray player, Roon media server, and Monoprice Monolith 7 amplifier. For a stint, I also had the Marantz SR7012 AVR review unit powering this setup. Denon, Marantz, and Definitive Technology are all subsidiaries of parent company Sound United. I will say that the Marantz and Denon units provided excellent electronic pairings for the Definitive Technology system.

For this review, I followed Definitive's recommendation and set the Denon AVR-X7200WA to a 5.0.4 configuration with all floorstanding channels to large and the subwoofer output off in the AVR.  If you didn't check it out on the previous page, I would suggest viewing our Audioholics video on "How to set up powered towered speakers" for a deeper dive into this topic.

Installing the Definitive Technology Screw Plate

The Definitive Technology screw plate, made of aircraft-grade aluminum, attaches easily to the bottom of each speaker.

I set up the Definitive 5.0.4 system in my Dolby Atmos/DTS:X, and Auro-3D hybrid theater space. My appropriately reflective ceilings are towards the minimum height for recommended Dolby Atmos installations at ~7-feet tall. I’ve tested in-ceiling, on-ceiling, and Dolby Atmos enabled speakers in this space with success.

I set up the Definitive BP9080x towers away from the front wall with approximately 3-feet of space behind them to give the bipolar design ample breathing room. I set up the CS9060 below my projection screen with ~20-degree upward angle on a custom stand.  The BP9060 towers were set up right around 3-feet behind my primary listening position and angled toward the center seat.

Bass Management Setup & Room Correction Considerations

When you run room calibration software with Definitive Technology speakers, there are two important setup notes. First, the Definitive Technology BP9080x and BP9060 are true full range speakers. They must be set to large in your AVR. Do not let any room calibration software set the towers to small. That setting will cut off the low frequencies. Furthermore, the center channel speaker’s response is such that it too can be set to large. Audyssey on the Denon and Marantz AVRs correctly recognized things when I ran my sweeps.

Definitive technology glowing D on each speaker

The glowing "D" lets you know that a speaker is active. You can turn the illuminated "D" off.

This Definitive speaker setup is exciting and intoxicating.

Secondly, if you are using room correction software (such as Audyssey) that measures a speaker’s phase, you may get an out of phase warning when doing calibrations with speakers (like these Definitive Technology) that have side-mounted woofers or subwoofers. Should you get such a warning and confirm that your wiring polarity is correct, simply ignore the message and continue with the calibration. During equipment reviews over several years I’ve anecdotally noticed that there’s a higher likelihood of getting a phase warning with Audyssey when speaker designs like these are placed closer to side walls.

Without reservation, I can tell you that this Definitive Technology setup is exciting and intoxicating. The huge soundstage and excellent system dynamics made the Definitive setup a memorable, reference-grade, home-cinema experience.

As expected, two-channel stereo came across with a tall, deep, and wide soundstage.  It’s eerie how big the image was—like someone had put a magnifying glass on the sound! The BP9080x played in stereo recreated the grandeur of orchestral works. Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Modern Man” was exquisite. The bass drums on the recording by the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra resonated with dynamics and energy. Best of all, I liked the coherent control that the BP9080x exerted on the music.

BP9060 with A90 Atmos Enabled Speaker Module

The BP9060's top lifts up so you can literally plug-n-play the A90 Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker module.

The larger-than-life sound stage was instantly apparent on Dido’s “Life For Rent.” I literally did a double-take when Dido’s opening breath and vocals rang true. It didn’t matter what artist or album I popped in, the lifelike image that these speakers can throw is a huge advantage. It’s like someone up-scaling your music from a 32-inch to a whopping 85-inch image. The results are that dramatic. Perhaps the song that brought all of the Definitive’s strengths together was Sade’s “Soldier of Love.” Percussive notes landed authoritatively, Sade’s sultry vocals resonated across that large sound stage, all tied together by a wonderfully dynamic and musical presentation.

Of course, there were a few times where the lack of pinpoint imaging called attention to itself. One such case was the opening guitar on the Indigo Girls’ “Welcome Me” from Nomads Indians Saints. The reproduction lacked the razor-like imaging you’ll get with a traditional speaker design. To repeat, every speaker technology has its strengths and weaknesses. All in all, the Definitive Technology’s penchant for musicality had me engaged no matter the genre.

Two sets of binding posts allow you to connect height channels

The BP9080X and BP9060 have two sets of binding posts on the back so you can connect both the main speakers and height modules.

Definitive labels the height channel binding posts so you don't make a mistake.

The performance of the CS9060 deserves special note. In my setup, the speaker did yeoman’s work, rendering dialogue cleanly and intelligibly. There wasn’t a hint of chestiness or bloat fighting those key vocal ranges. The speaker is a horizontally aligned midrange, tweeter, midrange design.

Jurassic Park DTS:XThere’s no midrange driver below the tweeter. The advantage of such designs (vertically-aligned midrange and tweeter) is a wider off-axis response. Unless you’re in an environment where you have lots of seats more than 30-degrees off the center axis, you shouldn’t have any issues with the CS9060’s MTM horizontal setup.

See: Horizontal vs Vertical Center Channel Designs - Alternative Perspective for more information on this topic.

As expected, the system’s bass response was superlative. DTS sent me the newly remastered Jurassic Park 4K/UltraHD Blu-ray with the DTS:X track for testing. Let’s just say the T-Rex’s roar was downright frightening and the impact of those famous footsteps almost had me running out the door.

It’s worth repeating for any doubters still out there that immersive audio technologies such as DTS:X and Dolby Atmos is the real deal. It’s absolutely worth your time and investment. Immersive audio is as important a technology leap as stereo to multichannel was back in the day.

Fifth Element AtmosWhen heard through the Definitive 5.0.4 setup (remember that the last digit represents the number of height channels), Dolby Atmos movies were very good. The Definitive Technology setup blew out my walls, creating the illusion of seemingly infinite space. This sensation was notable with the Fifth Element. My room just disappeared.

In my experience, immersive audio isn’t so much about overhead effects (though that’s certainly a key part) as much as it is creating a three-dimensional sound field, that vastly increases the sense of space around you. In that respect, the Definitive Technology setup played its part well. However, I have yet to come across a Dolby Atmos-enabled (upfiring) speaker that can outperform a discrete in-ceiling setup. My impression hasn’t changed here.

For more info on this topic see: Discrete vs Atmos-Enabled Speaker Listening Comparison

Definitive Technology BP9060 with A90 atmos module

The BP9060 with the A90 Dolby Atmos enabled speaker module attached. The A90 design perfectly matches the BP9060.

X-Men Apocalypse 4K/UHDAllow me to reiterate that in order for the upfiring Atmos enabled speaker trick to work, you need to make sure you have a flat, reflective ceiling that’s between 7 to 14 feet tall. Cathedral or angled ceilings won’t work. Neither will drop ceilings or ceilings with textured finishes do the trick.

I went to my go-to demo discs and noted that while overhead effects were good, they didn’t achieve the same sense of pinpoint realism and definition as the discrete, overhead speakers I have installed in my space. One of the 4K/Ultra-HD Blu-ray disks I typically use to demonstrate this fact is X-Men Apocalypse. Two scenes: Apocalypse’s collapsing pyramid and the debris falling from the bathroom ceiling destroyed by Cyclops demonstrated where discrete height speakers had a clear sonic advantage.

My observation isn’t a criticism of the Definitive Technology speakers’ performance in the least. Rather, in my experience, it’s a limitation of the “ceiling bounce” approach. If you have the option, I’d suggest installing one of Definitive Technology’s in-ceiling speakers for a Dolby Atmos setup and use the Atmos-enabled bounce speakers your next best option.

Conclusion

Definitive Technology 9000 series speakers

Definitive Technology's 9000-series speaker family

Definitive Technology has done it again with their 5.0.4 Dolby Atmos setup. This is a high octane system whose middle name is excitement. This is a perfect system for those who love premium bass performance without the additional footprint of multiple subwoofers. The Definitive package is also geared towards enthusiasts who crave a lifelike image that traditional speakers typically can’t deliver. To be sure, Definitive Technology’s bipolar technology won’t be everyone’s cup of sonic tea. But if either those characteristic features cause you to raise an assenting eyebrow then remember:  This Definitive speaker setup deserves to be on your list if your serious about getting into a full-fledged immersive surround system. Highly recommended.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star

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About the author:

Theo is a serious audiophile and home theater enthusiast—a passion he's enjoyed for over 20 years. He heads up many of our speaker system and receiver reviews as well as covering the latest in streaming technologies and Ultra HD video.

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Recent Forum Posts:

TheoN posts on March 04, 2019 20:18
William Lemmerhirt, post: 1302398, member: 81215
As far as I’ve seen it’s only Disney titles, but marvel has had some duds in the dynamics dept. it’s too bad too. I think the incredibles 1 and 2 would be amazing in full range object based immersion.
That makes sense then. I haven’t seen the limitation with Marvel movies. That’s a real disappointment if that limitation exists with Incredibles 2. That has the potential to be a stellar immersive mix. I haven’t sampled the 4K edition.
Danzilla31 posts on March 03, 2019 19:11
William Lemmerhirt, post: 1302398, member: 81215
As far as I’ve seen it’s only Disney titles, but marvel has had some duds in the dynamics dept. it’s too bad too. I think the incredibles 1 and 2 would be amazing in full range object based immersion.
I've heard that that company Kaleidascape or whatever there called actually gets the actual movie files from the studio and remasterers it to where it's full uncompressed true to the source audio that the director or mixer intended. If I ever hit the lottery that's what I'd get

it would be the only way to listen to those Disney or Marvel movies the way they were intended to be heard.

It's expensive though
William Lemmerhirt posts on March 03, 2019 18:34
TheoN, post: 1302374, member: 68072
I don’t understand why some companies do this. I tested out Avengers Infinity War and I did get 7.2.6 playback on the Denon X8500H. This limitation is for purely Disney titles or does it extend to Marvel titles as well?

As far as I’ve seen it’s only Disney titles, but marvel has had some duds in the dynamics dept. it’s too bad too. I think the incredibles 1 and 2 would be amazing in full range object based immersion.
TheoN posts on March 03, 2019 17:31
VonMagnum, post: 1301417, member: 86028
Disney does not make “true” Atmos soundtracks. They lock the objects into what is essentially a 7.1.4 “channel” based system (you can make stationary objects and then mix as channels instead, which is what Disney is essentially doing). People often call this “Atmos Lite”. Thus, if you play a Disney Atmos movie, it will not use any speakers outside the 7.1.4 configuration in an AVR that uses more (not even in a Trinnov unless it's using “remapping” mode). You can get around this by using external extraction (e.g. two Pro Logic processors extracting a “center” between say front and rear height to create top middle or front L/R and side L/R to create wides) as these are made after the channels are rendered and the AVR is not aware of them. Otherwise, if you had say a Denon 8500 set to do 7.1.6, the “top middle” speakers will be silent with Disney Atmos movies.

This is a real problem if you have a room that is too long for proper phantom imaging as it will leave a “hole” overhead where the imaging falls apart. I'm using a 12'x24' room with front/rear heights going from the front of the room to the very back and the imaging gets pretty weak in the middle when configured as 7.1.4 (e.g. rain sounds like there's a gazebo or something overhead keeping the rain from hitting right over my head) so I use two Onkyo ES-600 Pro processors to extract “top middle” between them and this makes it smooth all the way across the 24' room (e.g. The Atmos helicopter demo then pans smoothly and evenly around the entire length of the room). Because it's extracted instead of rendered from the AVR, it works with these locked 7.1.4 soundtracks from Disney and gets past the 11-channel DTS limit as well.

Similarly, I use matrix extraction for front wides and surround#2 (essentially a rear wide between the side surrounds and rear surrounds) as I have three rows of seating. This gives me 11.1.6 in the room and gives rows 2 and three nice even surround (and smoother panning from the MLP as well as more depth to “stereo” mode as the wides are active with stereo soundtracks unless I turn them off). I also create my own “dialog lift” effect by using an active mixer to put some L/C/R material into the front heights (controllable via the output pots how “high” it goes) so the dialog comes from the screen instead of the three PSB T45 speakers underneath it. The matrixed “rear wides” also extends the side surrounds for Auro-3D soundtracks to almost the back which then combined with the “unified” rear heights plus the extracted top middle speakers gives Auro-3D soundtracks much closer rendering to the Atmos versions (I have a half dozen in both to compare). I can also shrink Atmos back to 5.1.4 which then over the same speakers sounds surprisingly similar to “true Auro-3D” that just uses surround height speakers. I can also send surround height to rear height at the same time (Monoprice 2-in 2-out switchbox) to mimic an Auro 11.1 theater (which copies surround height to the rear in the same manner).

This lets me compare/contrast Atmos, X and Auro-3D in different configurations and/or to give the 2nd and 3rd row more “surround” on Auro-3D soundtracks (also helps with true 5.1 in “direct” mode as the “rear wide” matrixed speaker then acts like an array copy of the side surround instead putting the combined phantom image between the two sets of side surrounds for the second row (the front wides keep it directly to the sides for the front row as the side surrounds are behind and the front wides in front of that row making the phantom image appear directly to the sides. Turning the wides off, the soundtrack then has 5.1 soundtracks “behind” the front row in the recommended location for a 5.1.4 system. Thus, all soundtracks can be played more or less as intended or stretched to 11.1 or 11.1.6 (9.1.6 in Auro-3D's case as the rear beds aren't active, although I could get another switchbox to copy them as well, but the rear wides are probably good enough since there's only one seat in the back row and side surround just in front of the seat isn't too shabby sounding either. With full 11.1.6 all seats get full surround (rear beds and heights are just behind the 3rd row).
I don’t understand why some companies do this. I tested out Avengers Infinity War and I did get 7.2.6 playback on the Denon X8500H. This limitation is for purely Disney titles or does it extend to Marvel titles as well?
VonMagnum posts on February 26, 2019 22:33
TheoN, post: 1301377, member: 68072
Could you elaborate on what you mean by Atmos being stuck with 7.1.4? Perhaps I missed something? Extracting extra channels aside, the Denon X8500H will process 7.2.6 from an Atmos track but DTS:X is limited to 11 channels max (right now) for 7.2.4 until DTS:X Pro comes to the consumer market on more reasonably priced AVRs and pre-pros.

Disney does not make “true” Atmos soundtracks. They lock the objects into what is essentially a 7.1.4 “channel” based system (you can make stationary objects and then mix as channels instead, which is what Disney is essentially doing). People often call this “Atmos Lite”. Thus, if you play a Disney Atmos movie, it will not use any speakers outside the 7.1.4 configuration in an AVR that uses more (not even in a Trinnov unless it's using “remapping” mode). You can get around this by using external extraction (e.g. two Pro Logic processors extracting a “center” between say front and rear height to create top middle or front L/R and side L/R to create wides) as these are made after the channels are rendered and the AVR is not aware of them. Otherwise, if you had say a Denon 8500 set to do 7.1.6, the “top middle” speakers will be silent with Disney Atmos movies.

This is a real problem if you have a room that is too long for proper phantom imaging as it will leave a “hole” overhead where the imaging falls apart. I'm using a 12'x24' room with front/rear heights going from the front of the room to the very back and the imaging gets pretty weak in the middle when configured as 7.1.4 (e.g. rain sounds like there's a gazebo or something overhead keeping the rain from hitting right over my head) so I use two Onkyo ES-600 Pro processors to extract “top middle” between them and this makes it smooth all the way across the 24' room (e.g. The Atmos helicopter demo then pans smoothly and evenly around the entire length of the room). Because it's extracted instead of rendered from the AVR, it works with these locked 7.1.4 soundtracks from Disney and gets past the 11-channel DTS limit as well.

Similarly, I use matrix extraction for front wides and surround#2 (essentially a rear wide between the side surrounds and rear surrounds) as I have three rows of seating. This gives me 11.1.6 in the room and gives rows 2 and three nice even surround (and smoother panning from the MLP as well as more depth to “stereo” mode as the wides are active with stereo soundtracks unless I turn them off). I also create my own “dialog lift” effect by using an active mixer to put some L/C/R material into the front heights (controllable via the output pots how “high” it goes) so the dialog comes from the screen instead of the three PSB T45 speakers underneath it. The matrixed “rear wides” also extends the side surrounds for Auro-3D soundtracks to almost the back which then combined with the “unified” rear heights plus the extracted top middle speakers gives Auro-3D soundtracks much closer rendering to the Atmos versions (I have a half dozen in both to compare). I can also shrink Atmos back to 5.1.4 which then over the same speakers sounds surprisingly similar to “true Auro-3D” that just uses surround height speakers. I can also send surround height to rear height at the same time (Monoprice 2-in 2-out switchbox) to mimic an Auro 11.1 theater (which copies surround height to the rear in the same manner).

This lets me compare/contrast Atmos, X and Auro-3D in different configurations and/or to give the 2nd and 3rd row more “surround” on Auro-3D soundtracks (also helps with true 5.1 in “direct” mode as the “rear wide” matrixed speaker then acts like an array copy of the side surround instead putting the combined phantom image between the two sets of side surrounds for the second row (the front wides keep it directly to the sides for the front row as the side surrounds are behind and the front wides in front of that row making the phantom image appear directly to the sides. Turning the wides off, the soundtrack then has 5.1 soundtracks “behind” the front row in the recommended location for a 5.1.4 system. Thus, all soundtracks can be played more or less as intended or stretched to 11.1 or 11.1.6 (9.1.6 in Auro-3D's case as the rear beds aren't active, although I could get another switchbox to copy them as well, but the rear wides are probably good enough since there's only one seat in the back row and side surround just in front of the seat isn't too shabby sounding either. With full 11.1.6 all seats get full surround (rear beds and heights are just behind the 3rd row).
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