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Loudspeakers and Subwoofers

Now Hear This (NHT), the well-known high-value and -performance American loudspeaker manufacturer, made several announcements at CES 2001. They're introducing five new speakers and updating six existing products. The speakers are so new that lab samples which had been assembled just a few days prior to the show were used in the demonstration room. As a longtime NHT fan who has owned their top-of-the-line Model 3.3 for some five years now and their high-performance bookshelf SuperOne speakers, I was especially excited to hear about the new speakers and talk to the engineers of NHT who have made all these speakers possible.

First up are new additions to the NHT Performance Series which is already home to the acclaimed SuperZero and SuperOne speakers. What's better than "Super"? How about "Mega"! The new MegaOne bookshelf speaker pictured to the right with the SubTwoi subwoofer ($600) and MegaTwo tower speaker ($900) set new standards, with chief designer Bill Bush claiming that they outperform the Model 1.5, and the Model 2.5i speakers respectively. Both Mega models use a low-distortion aluminum dome tweeter (0.1% THD+N with a 2.83V input), and a very expensive, high performance 6½" midrange driver from Peerless.

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The MegaTwo (pictured right), which will replace the SuperTwo tower speaker in the Performance Series, also uses a vented 8" woofer that's shared with NHT's VT-1.4 tower speaker. According to Bill Bush, the midrange is more than twice the price of the woofer, and is a significant fraction of the MegaTwo's total cost. The 15lbs MegaOne will reach 47Hz, while the 45lbs MegaTwo will go down to 33Hz. The Mega series marks a change in design philosophy for the Performance series: while the Super series were designed to be relatively forgiving speakers, with a mellower response than the Music series speakers, like the 3.3, 2.5i, etc., the new Mega series is designed to have flatter frequency response like the Music series, and may not be as forgiving of bad front-end electronics as the SuperOne and SuperZero. Both speakers are video-shielded. The Mega series also sports a more substantial cabinet, with 22mm thick walls that are finished with a new high-gloss black lacquer. They will become available in March 2001.

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NHT hasn't left the rest of the Performance series behind, The SuperOnei ($375) and SuperZeroi ($275) will use the same low-distortion aluminum dome tweeter and new polypropylene woofers. The SuperOnei uses a 6½inch woofer, while the SuperZeroi has a 5¼inch woofer. The improved versions will have slightly lower bass extension, a very slight increase in sensitivity, and lower distortion, but will otherwise retain the same sonic character as their predecessors. They will also be finished in the new high-gloss lacquer which is more durable than the old high-gloss finish and more easily repairable by allowing scratches to be buffed out. The new cabinets have rounded edges instead of the square edges of original Super series. The SuperZeroi will also be available in a vinyl cabinet for rugged duty at an MSRP of $200. To keep up with its siblings, the SuperCenter has been upgraded to "i" status too, with the same tweeter and 6½" polypropylene woofers and has an MSRP of $300. All of the Super speaker series are video shielded. Look for the new Super series in March.

Bill Bush jovially mentioned that the "Super" name was an internal joke that somehow stuck and made it through their marketing department.

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NHT also announced a $1,000 in-wall speaker which will be available in March. It will be a 2.5-way acoustic suspension design with two 6½" woofers and a 1" aluminum dome tweeter. The speaker is 2.5-way because one woofer works only in the bass, while the other works in both the bass and midrange.

Of particular interest, I learnt at the show that Chris Byrne, one of the original founders of NHT, is back managing the NHT group within Recoton. []

More from NHT...

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Show report last updated: 23rd April 2001. 276 original images on-line.


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