SMR logoEdgeAudio DiAural 5.1 Loudspeaker Review
At CES in 2000, and again at CES 2001, SMR Home Theatre reported on the new DiAural crossover technology developed by Eric Alexander and patented by Ray Kimber. The crossover's purpose is to obtain exceptionally clean driver integration, even in budget loudspeaker designs. One of the first manufacturers to implement the DiAural crossover was EdgeAudio, so we gave Jeff Van Dyne the task of evaluating their latest sub/sat 5.1 home theater loudspeaker system to see if it lived up to our high expectations.

Our thanks to Terry Shea of Griffin Public Relations for his help and for providing the review samples.

EdgeAudio 502D-LR SW-12/320 5.1 Home Theater Loudspeaker System Review

EdgeAudio 5.1 Home Theatre System     Budget speakers have long been a passion for me. While I like high end, cost-no-object speakers as much as anybody else, I've always loved finding good quality, inexpensive speakers I can recommend to my friends. But let's face facts, most budget speakers look like, well, budget speakers. They're typically cheap particleboard cabinets covered in vinyl laminate with lightweight pushpin style speaker connectors on the back. Not exactly the kind of thing the other half wants sitting next to the cherry entertainment center that's hiding the TV from view in the living room.

     This is certainly not the case with the budget system offered from EdgeAudio. The 5.1 home theater system as reviewed here consists of five essentially identical 502D-LR satellites and a SW-12/320 12" powered subwoofer for the extremely attractive price of $1,399 if you shop on-line at Amazon.com or via the EdgeAudio web site (where product support may be more forthcoming). A complete system with a 150 watt 8" subwoofer is also available for $300 less. While you can find systems that cost less this still falls comfortably in the realm of a budget system.

     The 502D-LR satellites are roughly 7" square by 12" tall, weigh 11 pounds or so each and the cabinets are made of solid hardwood. The review samples were all finished in a very attractive cherry stain that should go quite nicely with that entertainment center. On the back you'll find a single pair of gold-plated five way binding posts. The center channel is basically a standard satellite with the rubber feet and grille oriented to lie on its side. The cabinets are extremely solid and heavy for their relatively diminutive size. The driver complement consists of a 5¼" poly cone woofer and 1" fabric dome tweeter (both sourced from Vifa) in a rear ported configuration.

     The SW-12/320 subwoofer is made of the same hardwood and uses a single 12" poly cone woofer in a ported configuration. Connection options for the internal 320 watt amp consist of stereo low-level RCA inputs and outputs and spring clip style speaker level connections. There is a phase reversal switch, and adjustment for volume level and crossover frequency, however, there is no bypass option for receivers or preamps that handle the subwoofer crossover internally. Metal spikes are included to help couple the subwoofer with the floor.

     The satellites all come double boxed (two 502D-LR in one box and three 502D-LR in another) with Styrofoam packing around the inner boxes. Upon opening the individual speaker boxes you're presented with a blue velvet bag closed at the top with a gold cord. Hmmm, did they send me speakers or five oversized bottles of Crown? The sub comes packed in a single box with heavy cardboard spacers around the outside. The sub itself is wrapped in heavy plastic and a protective cloth sock during shipping. The sub weighs in at close to 70 pounds so you may want a little help getting it out of the box and positioning it.

EdgeAudio 502D-LR Satellite Loudspeaker     No story about EdgeAudio would be complete without at least mentioning the DiAural crossover technology used in the design of the satellites. It was with this thought in mind that I found myself eating dinner and reading U.S. Patent 6,115,465, not exactly the first thing I ever thought I'd find myself doing on a crisp fall evening. Basically, DiAural is a series crossover that eliminates the need for capacitors thereby reducing some of the cost associated with more standard parallel crossovers and simplifying the process of designing a normal series crossover.


Setup:

     Setup was simple enough. EdgeAudio recommends 28" stands for the main speakers and my experience proved this to be about right. The binding posts on the satellites accept dual bananas, bare wire or standard spade lugs so hookup should be straightforward no matter what cabling you have. I set the main speakers about two feet out from the wall and equal distant apart as to the main listening position, with them toed in directly at the listener. The center was installed in the normal spot above my TV and pointed down toward the listener, since it must sit fairly high in my installation. The surrounds were placed on 4-foot stands to either side of the main listening position. The subwoofer ended up close to the right front corner of the room where my own sub normally resides. I got the best subwoofer integration by setting the speakers to large in my processor and the sub's internal crossover at about 85Hz.


Music:

     The weekend I received the system we happened to be doing some painting around the house, so I setup the main speakers, dropped a few CDs in my Adcom changer and cranked it up. I figured this would give the system 15 to 20 hours of break in before I ever sat down for a serious listen. It was late Sunday afternoon before I got the chance to really listen to the system.

     I dropped Susannah McCorkle's 'Let's Face The Music' into the CD player and cued up Cheek to Cheek. The first thing I noticed was exceptionally good imaging and an expansive soundstage for a relatively inexpensive set of speakers. The horns were lush and pure and Susannah's voice was right on target. Next EdgeAudio 502D-LR Satellite Loudspeakercame Hotel California from The Eagles' 'Hell Freezes Over'. Here the strings were very well represented and the speakers virtually disappeared. There was excellent extension in the upper treble without ever appearing harsh or bright at high volumes. Clarity and detail through the midrange were excellent. The sub had no trouble keeping up with the bass drums at the beginning of the track at any sane volume, though it did show a tendency to get just a little boomy on this track. This should really come as no surprise as nearly every sub I've heard in this price range that has much output capability is guilty of this, and the Edge sub is far better in this respect than the vast majority of sub-$1,000 barkers I've heard over the years. Well, the Eagles are a fine group, but what I really wanted to know was whether these little gems could rock hard with the big boys. So I pulled out Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' and let 'em rip. Can they? Yeah, Roger Waters and crew weren't going to trip these speakers up. I ended up listening to the entire second disc before I shut the system down for the night. Dynamics, which are an issue with some minis, aren't anything you need worry about. Here again I noticed the wide soundstage and truly stunning imaging. I can't recall ever hearing a speaker in this price range that images quite this well.

     All this time I was listening to the system with the speakers located next to the entertainment center where I normally setup speakers for casual listening. I quickly realized these speakers weren't going to be at all picky about placement. When I get down to serious music listening I'll pull them out into the room a couple of feet where imaging and soundstage improve dramatically but with the Edge speakers never felt compelled to pull them out into the room. I did try it and there was a slight improvement but not enough to make a huge difference. Due to the rear port I would avoid placing them in a cabinet or bookshelf but otherwise placement shouldn't be a concern.


EdgeAudio SW-12/320 SubwooferMovies:

     About a week after the system arrived we sat down to watch 'U-571'. Surround envelopment was nothing short of superb. In the attack sequences in chapters 15 through 18 there are numerous pops and groans from the submarine that were placed very precisely within the 3D sound field. Front to back and side-to-side pans were almost perfectly seamless with images placed precisely around the room. This combination of imaging, soundstage and detail provided a level of realism I've yet to experience from my own system. Dynamics were also very impressive, especially considering the size of the satellites. The sub performed admirably during this incredibly high-energy sequence, with plenty of deep bass and enough output for any reasonably sane person. Dialogue intelligibility was good at moderate to high volumes levels when there wasn't a lot of background noise but there were times when background noise levels were higher that I found myself turning the volume up so I could understand what was being said.

     In the attack sequence at the start of 'Lost in Space', it was apparent that having five matched satellites paid huge dividends in the integration of the total system and provided a terrific sense of, well, space. The system was also capable of much higher output levels than I expected and dynamics were impressive for such a small system. Output shouldn't be a problem in most average size rooms; however, the center channel did require a slight boost in volume during scenes with high background noise.


Conclusion:

     So, does DiAural technology really work as claimed? At this point I can't say for sure one way or the other, but I have to admit that the results are pretty convincing. At $1,400 for a complete set of 5 speakers and a subwoofer, this system is nothing short of an incredible bargain. For that price you get very solidly constructed satellites and a powerful sub capable of handling just about anything you can think to throw at them. Clarity at moderate to very high volume levels is excellent. Soundstage, imaging and system integration are among the best I've heard in this price. This should be an easy choice for most people and the good looks will make it easy to convince the other half...


2001.

 

Amazon Electronics
The EdgeAudio home theater loudspeakers can be purchased on-line from Amazon Electronics

More information can be found upon the official EdgeAudio web site.

Text Jeff Van Dyne; HTML SMR Home Theatre and Images Jeff Van Dyne & SMR Home Theatre cannot be reproduced without permission. The images on this page are digitally watermarked: Digimarc http://www.digimarc.com/

This page resides on the SMR Home Theatre server at: https://smr-home-theatre.org/Reviews/edgeaudio/ and contains JavaScript to prevent it being opened within a frame on another site. Last updated 21 April, 2001

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