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Energy C6, AC300, RVSS, ES-12XL Speaker System Preview

by January 15, 2000
  • Product Name: Loudspeaker System
  • Manufacturer: Energy
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStar
  • Review Date: January 15, 2000 18:00
  • MSRP: $ 2950 (5.1 system)
Speaker Type
Retail Price

Total Price


  • Good overall sound
  • nice aesthetics


  • a bit sterile sounding and recessed in midrange
  • hohum subwoofer performance


originally published Sept, 2000

Energy C6 Tower , AC300 Center and RVSS Surround Speaker Introduction

Mains (C6 Tower)

energyc6.jpg The C6 is a Tower loudspeaker system ($1200/pair), each containing one 1 inch aluminum dome with cloth suspension and two 6 1/2 inch injection molded aluminum / polypropylene woofers with polypropylene diaphragm and rubber suspension. The overall build quality on these speakers is very good, as is the appearance. They are non-obtrusive and integrate well in any room, so long as the wife doesn't mind. While looks may be a strong point of these speakers, we found their weakest point to be their overall sound quality, which seemed too laid back and sterile. Ordinarily this would not present a problem with a piece of furniture. However, loudspeakers are not intended to be furniture. They are meant to produce sound, good sound hopefully. Please note however that we don't feel the C6 speaker system sounds as horrendously bad as a "cubed" speaker system does. But, we do feel the sound could have be better based on its competition within its price point.

The C6 just didn't do it for us. It's overall sound was mellow, un-revealing and muddy in the midrange and somewhat forward and stringent in the highs. Instead of voices sounding vibrant, dynamic and real, they sounded dull, ordinary and just plain boring. We felt such speakers as the Paradigm Studio 60s ($1150/pair) or the Pinnacle Classic Gold Reference ($895/pair) trounced the Energy C6's in overall fidelity and character.

Center Field( AC300)

energyac300.jpg Perhaps the most important speaker in a multi-channel surround system is the center channel. Enter the AC-300 from Energy. The AC-300 houses one 1 inch, magnetically shielded aluminum dome tweeter with cloth suspension and two 5 1/2 inch, shielded so called I.M. carbon/mica polypropylene woofers with compression molded N.B.R. surrounds. The AC-300 is a very good center channel for the money. It puts forth a very intelligible dialog never sounding distorted or overly bright. One gripe about the AC-300 is it tended to sound compressed and was easier than some center speakers to pinpoint. This may be more of an attribute of its physical size. We have become so accustomed to listening to center channel speakers with multi driver arrays in a larger cabinet that sometimes the smaller breeds just don't seem to cut it when placed on large RPTV's.

Rear Channel (RVSS)

energyrvss.jpg The Energy speaker system we evaluated was complimented with a pair of dipole surround speakers called the RVSS. Each RVSS speaker boasts two 3/4 inch ferro-fluid cooled soft domes and two 5 1/4 inch woofers with I.M. polypropylene cones and foam surrounds. These speakers work best when placed a few feet above ear level and slightly behind the listening area. We found these speakers to produce a very well dispersed surround field and felt at times as though they disappeared with the action leaving little need for DSP enhanced surround modes. They always played loud and clear regardless of the source and demand placed on them.

We found it best however, to use them in a "small" configuration for two reasons:

  1. They did not produce adequate bass, which is really the role of the subwoofer anyways.
  2. They imaged better when low bass was filtered out of the speakers to allow clearer and more precise sound for a limited bandwidth (80Hz to 20KHz).

For music purposes, such as multi-channel DTS surround sound, we believe that the RVSS presented a very nice surround field but lacked a little in detail in the high frequency response. Overall, these speakers make a great choice for surround purposes only (IE. Movies) and a good choice for music surround purposes (i.e. DTS CD's). For $550 you really can't go wrong with what these speakers offer in terms of their size, flexibility and price. We felt these speakers were the highlight of the Energy speaker system package reviewed here.

The Bottom End (ES-12XL)

energy12xl.jpg To round out the system and provide rumbling effects for movies the Energy ES-12XL (retail $799) was chosen. The ES-12XL contains a 12 inch woofer powered by a 150 watt Class AB amp with a footprint of 21" X 17" X 17". Our initial test of the sub was with a DTS CD from Alan Parsons Project called "On Air".

We selected song #8 "Apollo" for 2 reasons:

  1. This track has a lot of bass that hits hard and fast. A sub, which is boomy or dare I say "slow", will really show up here.
  2. We are so familiar with this song that we know how it should sound by heart.

While listening to this familiar track, we didn't hear the bass notes play the way we were accustomed too. Instead, the bass was slow, one notey and not very deep. In fact, there is one particular section in this track, which plays a very low note that wimpy subs need not apply. The ES-12XL could not play this note with any oomph or realism. However we were releaved it didn't bottom out or whimper like some subs typically do in this price range. The output level was sufficient in our listening environment, but we were unable to get proper integration with the rest of the system.

Within 2 minutes of listening to the track we concluded that the sub was either:

  1. Set up wrong (i.e. The Active crossover was interacting with the LPF of the Marantz SR-18)
  2. The Sub was placed too close to the corner causing increased standing bass waves.
  3. Defective.
  4. Not very musical.

We don't believe option one was the cause of the problem since cascading two crossovers would mostly cause more attenuation than amplification of certain frequencies. In addition, two cascaded filters would provide more attenuation at higher frequencies (80Hz - 120Hz) and will still pass low frequencies (20Hz - 60Hz) quite easily.We also moved the sub around to a few locations in the room and still noted slow boomy unrefined bass that did not play particularly low. In defense of this sub, it did appear have a good deal of ouput, especially in the moderately large room (18' x 15') we were conducting our demo in. However, this is not the type of subwoofer we expected form a company like Energy especially since we actually liked their sub with the 10" woofer and felt it to be far more accurate than this one. It may be possible, though not probable that the sub was somehow defective. We would need to listen to another one to make this determination. However, the salesman at Miani Audio seemed to think the sub sounded fine and that there wasn't a problem. Perhaps if he sat down and listened to our RBH Signature 1010 sub, he would see the light of day and understand our concerns. A sub should be tight, quick and deep. It should not be easily pinpointed and should integrate well with the main speakers. For this very reason, we cannot recommend the Energy ES-12XL sub for those who are assembling a serious musical home theater system. However, those more interested in home theater rumble and wish to stick with the same brand and decor of speakers may still wish to consider this a viable option.

As always, we recommend you evaluate these speakers on your own to determine if they suit your needs. Speaker evaluation is somewhat of a subjective matter based on personal tastes and preferences. While we felt that there are better options in this price range, you the user/listener should ultimately determine that for yourself.

About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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