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HTD Level 3 Tower and Level 2 Bookshelf Speakers Review

HTD Level 3 Tower and Level 2 Bookshelf Speakers

HTD Level 3 Tower and Level 2 Bookshelf Speakers


  • Product Name: Level 3 Tower and Level 2 Bookshelf Speakers
  • Manufacturer: Home Theater Direct
  • Review Date: October 14, 2012 22:05
  • MSRP: $799
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
Level Two
  • Max. Power Handling: 100 watts
  • Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 kHz
  • Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 87dB
  • Voice Coil: 1"
  • Shielded Magnet: woofer: 8 + 5 OZ; tweeter: .4 OZ neodymium
  • Crossover: 2nd order at 3200Hz
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 11 7/8" x 7 1/8" x 10"
  • Weight (per piece): 11 lbs
Level Three
  • Max. Power Handling: 200 watts
  • Frequency Response: 30 Hz - 40 kHz
  • Impedance: 8 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 89dB
  • Voice Coil: 2" on mid-range dome; 2.5" on low-range woofers
  • Shielded Magnet: woofer: 23 + 10 OZ; mid-range dome: 4 OZ neodymium; tweeter: .7 OZ neodymium
  • Crossover: 3rd order at 725 Hz and 2.5 kHz
  • Dimensions (HxWxD without base): 41.5" x 8.625" x 11.5"
  • Dimension of Base (HxWxD): 1" x 10.75" x 12.75"
  • Weight (per piece): 51 lbs

There's apparently a new player in town. Well, that's not entirely true. Home Theater Direct has been around since about 1999 – we just didn't know about it. If you're selling speakers, amps, whole home audio systems and accessories, you're going to want to be a lot of things – but “a secret” is not one of them. So when we were told about them from a few of our forum members, we decided to take a look.

We decided to be efficient, so we took at look at two products at once. These towers are from HTD's Level THREE series and the bookshelf speakers are Level TWOs. I'm going to start off with some pricing information, cause that's a big deal as you consider this review. The Level THREE towers are only $799... a pair. They come in Black and Dark Cherry (Light Cherry was discontinued).

gold binding postsThe Level THREE's incorporate a Kapton ribbon tweeter. Kapton is a material developed by DuPont which remains stable over a wide range of temperatures – like absolute zero to 4 times the boiling point. And while you usually see Kapton in flexible printed circuits or space suits, it also can make a decent material for a ribbon tweeter. The other drivers in the Level THREE include an unusual 2” guided mid-range dome driver and a pair of 7-inch “FCD” woofers. FCD stands for Fabric, Ceramic, Doping. This process combines a fabric woofer with a heat-hardened ceramic and then a polymer coating. The color and texture makes the woofer look like a sort of stiff styrofoam and they're even a little sticky, which doesn't bode well for dust and dirt. But, stiff and light seem to be the key with woofers, and these seem to fit the bill. The front baffle is a little over 5/8” in thickness and the side walls are about the same. The entire interior of the cabinet is open, save for some significant bracing above and below the top mid-woofer. At the bottom is a short, wide port that is actually a tuned transmission line that goes back and up into the cabinet. On the back, the Level THREE's have a pair of basic gold-plated 5-way binding posts that let you bi-amp or bi-wire the speakers.

kapton tweeter

We listened to a lot of music on these speakers, running them up against a pair of reference Salk Songtower speakers as well as a pair of Fluance XL7F's. What we noticed right away was that the bass was very tactile, with lots of energy at around 65Hz and 100Hz. Depending upon the track – at times it felt like we had a small subwoofer in the room. Imaging was good and we found that it sounded best with only a slight toe-in. Localization of instruments within the soundstage was possible, though there was a bit of clutter in the mid-bass region that tempered the midrange clarity a bit. Still, the highs were crisp and the overall sound was exceptional, particularly given the price. Tracks like Pink Floyd's “Breathe” had a nice airiness and vocals sounded very live. When certain tracks found themselves to be sitting in that accentuated 100Hz range the midbass bloat crept up, but it wasn't distracting so much as just noticeable to the trained ear. “Because” from the Beatles' Love album showed off the tremendous high frequency clarity of these speakers, with birds chirping and flapping their wings throughout the track and across the soundstage. At one moment a fly buzzes from left to right and you can follow it all the way across.

FCD driver

On heavier tracks we loved the accentuated bass frequencies that came from the Level THREE's. Toto's “Rosanna” had a kick that was both punchy and snappy. Horns were solid and the vocals had a really powerful and clean presentation. These are fun speakers to listen to.

Now – the Level TWO bookshelf speakers... These seem like a great solution for those who want a step down from the larger towers and who want to get a great pair of bookshelfs for the price some companies charge for PC speakers. The Level TWO's come in Black and Dark Cherry and are priced at just $199 a pair. They look pretty good and the veneer is thick enough and nice enough to be fairly durable. The speaker uses a similar transmission line port on the bottom of the cabinet to give it increased bass response and the mid-woofer is the same sort of FCD driver, but with an inverted dust cap. The tweeter looks to be a very basic model and while it offered a good amount of detail, it managed not to be harsh or overbearing.

Level Two speakers

tweeterBoth of these speakers are very enjoyable over long periods of time. We didn't experience an overabundance of fatigue listening to them. For anyone looking to get into a pair of speakers inexpensively, the Level TWOs are a no-brainer. You can build a respectable 5.1 system for under $1000 – and that's with bi-pole/di-pole surrounds, a center channel and a sub. If you want the higher quality of a three-way system, the Level THREEs are respectably priced and it's hard to be anything but excited that yet another reputable speaker company is bringing sub-$1000 speakers into the market. Competition is a great thing.

And price is what this week's question is about. How much did you spend for your current home theater speakers? $200? $2000? Let us know in the comments section of the AudioholicsLive YouTube page. And if you want to stay posted on what else we're reviewing and reporting on, Like our facebook page – facebook.com/audioholics, or Tweet and follow us @AudioholicsLive.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Andrew Gash was the online personality for Audioholics' video reviews back in 2010. He's an accomplished video editor and scriptwriter and enjoys masochistic events such as entering 48 hour film festivals each year, for which his last several attempts have placed in various nominations and awards.

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