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Aperion Verus Grand First Impressions & Build Quality

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 Verus_center_grill001.jpgUsually I would post a picture or two of the speakers coming out of their boxes in this part of the review. Unfortunately, because the speakers were the first off the line, they didn't have all the right packaging on hand. They were able to send the correct boxes but all the packaging material was different (and non-standard). That being said, even with the make shift packaging, the speakers still arrived undamaged and in good order. Aperion, like many manufacturers, has opted for the cotton sock as a method of "protecting" the finish of the speakers and to convey a sense of quality.

Regular readers of Audioholics will know that I'm not a big fan of the cotton sock. There are a few reasons. First, more often than not, the protection they offer is minimal. They don't keep out the elements, they don't keep out pests or insects, and they often add a layer of fuzz that has to be immediately cleaned off. The Verus Grand speakers I received had the high gloss black finish which theoretically could benefit from a layer of cloth between it and the packaging. Aperion made the good decision to include, around the sock, a plastic bag which actually is good for keeping out the elements and other nasties. While I still maintain that the cotton sock is more trouble than it's worth (getting the 65 pound Tower out of the box without it sliding, like a slip-n-slide, out of the sock is worthy of an Olympic event), it may have saved some minor scratches on the surface. Maybe.

I am a big fan of the high gloss black finish on a speaker for a number of reasons. When done well, it is very durable. While some might decry the reflectivity of the finish saying that it can be distracting, I've found that most speakers sound best with a bit of toe-in. This means that any reflections are usually not visible at my seated position. Even when I have noticed reflections on speakers, it is the sort of nit-picky thing that shows up in reviews and on forum posts but, in real world applications, rarely distracts for longer than a few moments and is easily forgotten.

The finish on the Verus Grand speakers was immaculate. As expected, there was a bit of fuzz on the outside that needed to be wiped off but once I did, I could find no blemish or scuff anywhere. The Verus Grand speakers proved to be very resilient as I have younger children that couldn't help but touch, push, and throw toys at them. As far as I can tell, so far, they have stood up well. I didn't like, as much, the black front baffle. While it isn't as noticeable with the black speakers, it clearly shows up with the cherry finish. While is still feels and looks like a gloss black veneer, it is slightly duller than the rest of the speaker. In low light you won't notice it but I'd prefer if they had continued with the normal veneer and used a magnetic grille that stuck to the baffle.

Verus_glamour001.jpgThose of you familiar with Aperion Audio speakers will know that they are fond of inset grilles. In the case of the Verus Grand line, they are a perforated metal grille covered in speaker cloth. Aperion provides a little hook that you are directed to slip between the side of the grille and the speaker baffle. This didn't work for me. Instead, I had to dig the hook into the grille risking tearing the fabric. The grilles are held on magnetically so the hard part is breaking that connection. Once you have, the grille comes off easily to expose the drivers. If I didn't have children I'd probably always keep the grilles off my speakers. The Audioholic in me just loves seeing those drivers in action. It is obvious that Aperion expects you to keep the grilles on (which is great for those with kids - believe me, they are never getting these off). The lip around the outside of the front baffle (where the grille insets) gives the speakers a strange look without the grilles. With they grilles, they look quite fine though I would have liked an attractive non-grille option.

The driver complement of the Verus Grand is more diverse than you usually see in a line of speakers. What manufacturers often do is the pick a common tweeter and a midrange (and sometimes a woofer) and spread them across the different speaker offerings. What we find with the Verus Grand is that they've changed up the drivers slightly based on the speaker design. While for some that might suggest they've sourced their drivers from different companies, we think it shows how they've had to modify the driver compliment based on the speaker design.

The design of the speakers may look a bit boxy at first blush but actually isn't. The front, sides and top are all curved on the bookshelves and tower with the front baffle and top both having a slight convex angle. The front baffle is much larger than the back creating an additional angle though the curve is just as gentle. On the tower speaker the back has two flared ports and dual pairs of binding posts with a bar connecting them. The bookshelves have a single port but retain the dual binding posts. This allows you to bi-amp the speakers if you wish though the 6 ohm impedance and 92dB sensitivity for the towers suggests you won't need to (not that you won't, we would). We probably wouldn't bi-amp the bookshelves (6 ohm impedance and 87dB sensitivity) simply because of the size. The center is not ported, has a single set of binding posts, and includes a switch to cut the bass for in-cabinet placement.

The biggest problem we had with the Verus Grand line in general is that they are not field serviceable. Around the plate for the binding posts and each of the drivers is a rubber surround that is glued down. You literally must tear it out in order to access any of the screws. This is pretty short sighted on Aperion's part. While we're sure you could glue the surround back down if you wanted, making a speaker that can't be serviced in the field means a lot of extra shipping for them if there turns out to be a problem and a lot of customers that will feel put out when they are waiting for speakers to be serviced. It seems that it would have made more sense to use some sort of removable surround (we've seen these in the past) so that minor problems could be addressed by particularly handy consumers or field techs. We've experienced in the past, particularly with subwoofers, wires shaking loose that needed only access to a Philips head screwdriver. Would we like to wait for roundtrip shipping for such a fix? Would you?

Verus_tweeter001.jpgAll the speakers have the new a one inch Aperion Axially Stabilized Radiator silk dome tweeter which we'll discuss in detail in a moment. The towers mate the tweeter with two 5-inch woven Kevlar mid-range drivers with aluminum phase plugs, and two 6-inch woven Kevlar woofers with butyl rubber surrounds in a three way design. The bookshelves have the tweeter with one of the 5-inch woven Kevlar mid-range drivers while the center sports a pair of the 6" woofers but a 4-inch Kevlar mid-range driver. We're actually surprised to see Kevlar listed as the material in the drivers as we were under the impression that Kevlar had discouraged their name being used. Many manufacturers have gone to using the more generic term "woven fiberglass" instead. The drivers are arranged with a MTM "d'Appolito" configuration on the top with the two woofers on the bottom on the towers with the center having the woofers flanking either side of the vertically arranged tweeter and mid. The real story here is with the tweeter. The tweeter is a new design from Aperion that is optimized for lower frequency performance. This allows them to cross the tweeter over at a lower frequency which relieves the midrange drivers from having to reproduce frequencies that are notoriously hard for them without the cone "breaking up" or beaming. Aperion does this though a number of innovations.

Verus_mid001.jpg     Verus_woof001.jpg

Verus_Tweeter_back001.jpgThe most obvious is the use of the stabilization bar. This goes across the front of the tweeter and pins the center of it down. On other dome tweeters, the dome is allowed to rock during playback which can cause distortion when playing low. By pinning the center down, this rocking is eliminated allowing the tweeter to play lower without distortion. In addition, most really good dome tweeters are vented in the back into a damped chamber to reduce the pressure on the dome. Aperion also added eight additional vents to relieve the pressure behind the surround. Together, these additions allow the ASR tweeter to play lower (it is crossed over in the tower at 1.8kHz) creating a smoother, more natural off-axis roll off. I've included Aperion's measurement of the tweeter. Note - they took this measurements, not us.

 

                                             Verus_Tweeter_response001.jpg

Aperion Audio Tweeter Frequency Response

While they had covered the magnets on the grille with felt to protect the front baffle, I did damage the side of the speaker as I pulled the grille off. It really seems that Aperion doesn't expect you to remove the grilles. I chanced opening one of the bookshelf speakers so that I could get a closer look at the crossover and drivers. While I couldn't get the tweeter out without risking permanent damage, the woofer eventually relented.  This is the same midrange they use in the Tower and an inch larger than the one they use in the Center. The woofer sports a cast basket and a hefty magnet.

Verus Driver     Verus_cross001.jpg

Verus_magnet001.jpg

Editorial Note on Grills by Aperion Audio
The main problem with most grilles isn’t the cloth – it’s actually the grille frame. Sound waves reflecting off the inside edge of the frame arrive time-delayed at the listening position and therefore are out-of-phase at some frequency. (Actually there are a series of frequencies that arrive out-of-phase but usually all but the lowest of these are beaming enough that their energy reaching the grille edge doesn’t contribute much.) The small edge Tom noted with the grille removed is much smaller than a typical grille frame and is aimed at keeping this problem to a minimum.

Aperion Verus Crossover

Aperion Audio's design engineer Ken Humphreys confessed to us he is sort of a topology atheist when it comes to loudspeaker crossover designs. Instead, he believes that imposing a desired topology onto drivers is doomed to yield poor results since this fails to recognize the driver's impedance response, natural roll offs & frequency response, the speaker's off-axis response, the desired angle of best-summing through the crossover zone and more. Better is to do the time-consuming task of adjusting parts until speaker's performance is deemed to have the most optimized compromise. We certainly agree with this approach especially since loudspeaker filter networks are not designed to a fixed DC resistive input or output impedance. Aperion's goals are to get the flattest possible frequency response, smoothest off-axis roll off towards the highs so that delayed arrivals sound to have a natural balance, directing the best summing through the crossover zone at & above the listening elevation, amplifier friendly impedance response, protecting the drivers, sensible cost and, of course, sounding the best to their listening panel.

Verus Crossovers

Aperion Audio Verus Crossovers

The Verus Center channel crossover could serve as an example:

  • Woofer low pass (LP): 2nd order near Linkwitz-Riley, shaded a little towards Butterworth. Also with a larger coil to correct for "diffraction step".
  • Mid HP: 1st order Butterworth topologically but, considering the mechanical roll off of the mid in its sub-enclosure, closer to 3rd order Butterworth.
  • Mid LP: Same as woofer LP but with much larger first coil to attenuate the driver's rising frequency response.
  • Tweeter HP: 3rd order topologically but the slope is closer to 2nd order L-R until below the crossover zone where it gets steeper.

Regarding parts usage, Aperion likes to use hard-to-saturate but lower DC resistance coils that use laminated soft iron cores. The inductor in series with the midrange for example doesn't require a low DCR coil only to place a larger resister in series with it. The adjacent coils were oriented orthogonally to minimize unwanted mutual coupling per our article inductor coil crosstalk basics. The tweeter employs high quality mylar bypass capacitors in parallel with the electrolytics for improved sound quality and stability.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

AcuDefTechGuy posts on May 26, 2014 10:30
herbu, post: 1034045
Plus, the new Aperions @ $799 won't sound as good as mine because mine were $1k.
How the speaker sounds is connected to all of our senses and emotions - how we feel, remember, see, know, what others say, etc.

They need to come out with a $20,000 flagship speaker. Then they will earn the high-end status and only then will they sound as good.
herbu posts on May 26, 2014 07:39
AcuDefTechGuy, post: 1034013
I don't think they'll sound any better than your system.
Plus, the new Aperions @ $799 won't sound as good as mine because mine were $1k.
AcuDefTechGuy posts on May 25, 2014 20:00
ousooner2, post: 1034001
I wonder how these sound vs. the EMP e55ti. They're a tad more than 2x the price ($700/pr vs. $1600/pr). They both use the MTM configuration at the top with a midwoofers at the bottom (2 on the Aperion's vs. 3 on the EMP's; the Aperion's are likely nicer, more xmax/xmech, etc though)

I've always thought the Aperion Verus Grand Towers looked AMAZING. Love the curve and style.

I don't think they'll sound any better than your system. That's how I feel.
ousooner2 posts on May 25, 2014 17:00
I wonder how these sound vs. the EMP e55ti. They're a tad more than 2x the price ($700/pr vs. $1600/pr). They both use the MTM configuration at the top with a midwoofers at the bottom (2 on the Aperion's vs. 3 on the EMP's; the Aperion's are likely nicer, more xmax/xmech, etc though)

I've always thought the Aperion Verus Grand Towers looked AMAZING. Love the curve and style.
UNCMT9 posts on May 24, 2014 14:08
Verus towers on sale for $799 each right now…
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