Our Speaker Packages of the Year bring together full 5.1-channel systems of speakers, including subwoofer — obviously these can be extended for more channels by adding additional units of the rear (or possibly front) speakers to meet your needs. We are keen to emphasise the complete and utter difference between the kind of cheap ‘home theatre in a box’ offerings sold with TVs in chainstores, and a proper set of speakers from a hi-fi manufacturer like these.
Our winning package under $5000 makes this point perfectly. These are hi-fi loudspeakers all — Richter Acoustics is an Australian loudspeaker maker established almost 30 years ago, now with its flagship Legend Series up to its fifth version, with significant revisions all round. This impressive 5.1-channel package uses, in all, four models from the Legend group to deliver its impressive results — stereo Wizard speakers intended for duty as the front stereo pair ($1899 per pair, and recognised in their own right on p55), the Griffin centre channel ($599), the Merlin bookshelf-sized surround speakers ($869) and the Thor subwoofer ($1499). Individually they would come to $4866, but as a package they cost $4399.
All of these speakers are available in black oak or Jarrah finish, and all are fitted with four gold-plated binding posts suitable for bi-wiring.
The Thor subwoofer is also a Series V unit. This is a nice big unit featuring a mix of traditional and modern technology. Traditional in that it has generous dimensions of 500 by 440 by 450mm, but also modern in using a 300W Class-D amplifier offering 82% efficiency and low distortion, and an Analogue Devices DSP system for controlling the signal, including offering separate home theatre and music modes.
The Wizard stereo speakers presented an extremely attractive musical performance (see p55), while the other speakers shared the general tonal characteristics, and whether we invoked home theatre receiver EQ to do its stuff or not, the surround sound imaging was highly effective, with good handling of a male voice walking around the perimeter of the room in Dolby Digital 5.1, and excellent impact from the street-gun battle in the movie ‘Heat’. We had a good 140W on tap for each channel, yet at thunderous levels the speakers remained clean and precise and controlled, often at thrillingly high levels..
The Thor subwoofer was simply excellent, and well balanced for the system at about a third of its total cost. We found its music mode delivered a more even response than the home theatre mode, so we stuck with that.
The Legend Series V speaker system from Richter provides poundingly good home cinema, with a great subwoofer and the subtlety for music too. Winner! More info: