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Loudspeakers and Subwoofers

Out of curiousity, when I had Bill Bush cornered, I asked him if the 3.3 was still NHT's statement product, that is, NHT's 'best' speaker. Surprisingly, his answer was "No"! The new VT-3 is apparently superior to the 3.3. Bill, who designed the 3.3 woofer, the entire crossover, and, in general, spent 18 months of his life on the 3.3, has been living with serial number 2 for many years now and wanted to fix all of the little things in the speaker that annoyed him over that time. For example, he feels that the 3.3 has some minor problems below 350Hz.

The VT-3 is a little room-friendlier, with its dual woofers. Because there are two drivers reproducing the same frequencies, the floor reflection dips are ameliorated because of the drivers' spacing. Instead of one bigger dip due to the floor reflection, there are now two smaller dips at different frequencies because of the physical separation of the drivers. This spreading out of room effects will work at any listening distance, unlike the 3.3 whose room-resistance would only work below a certain listening distance because of its uneven bass driver duty.

Bill also mentioned that the characteristic NHT angled-baffled Focused Image Geometry (FIG) setup doesn't work so well when there's a large reflective object, like a television set, between the speaker and listener, and that the VT-3 could emulate Focused Image Geometry, if necessary, by toeing-in. Bill felt that the rest of the VT-3's advantages stem from its highly adjustable built-in bass amplifier, however that's largely negated when using the new SSA-1 amplifier with the 3.3. Bill emphasized that the problems he was hearing with the 3.3 are very minor and are noticeable only because the rest of the speaker is so good to begin with. The VT-3s are also not as closely matched as the 3.3s, but NHT engineers felt that the driver quality control was good enough to allow them less than 1dB of difference between left and right channels. The 3.3s are matched to 0.3dB between left and right channels. Amazing to hear was that the 3.3s have not changed much since their introduction, with the exception of a minor crossover change designed to protect the speakers against ridiculous power inputs.

The image to the right shows the NHT VT1.4, VT2.4, VS2.4, VC-3, VR-3 and VT-3, the new king of the hill at NHT?

Click for a Larger Image

NHT announced upgraded versions of their subwoofers with larger drivers: the SubTwoi ($1,200), the SubOnei ($800), and the SuperSubi ($500). The SubTwoi has two 12" woofers, while the SubOnei gets on with one 12" woofer and the SuperSubi increases its driver size to 10". NHT engineers say that the new subs will not play deeper, but will play louder. They also mentioned that part of the reason for the larger driver size is to meet "customer expectations" of size. It seems some audio neanderthals out there didn't feel like they were getting their money's worth unless they had really big woofers. In the vein of woofer exhibitionism, the SuperSubi is now a front-firing subs, so the customer may see the woofer he/she paid for. The new subwoofers will be available in March 2001 at the same prices as the old models they replace.

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CES 2001 also saw the introduction of a new NHT subwoofer amplifier, the SSA-1, for use with their bi-ampable speakers such as the 3.3 and 2.5i, and as well as their passive subwoofers. The $750, 250W/channel, two-channel, Sunfire-based amplfier drives, as well as helps optimize its companion speaker's bass response. Music/Video and Video Bass Contour controls select a flat response for music and punched-up bass for movies. The Video Bass contour adjusts bass levels from 0 to 7.5dB, centered at 60Hz. The SSA-1 also has a relatively high Q (narrow) bass EQ centered at 30Hz, continuously variable from -7dB to +7dB to knock down typical bass peaks in a room. Other controls include a continuously variable phase adjustment, low-pass crossover adjustment, LFE gain, overall gain, and a power-limiter selector with settings for the different power ratings of NHT speakers. The SSA-1 will turn itself on if it senses a signal and turn itself off if there is no signal after 45 minutes have elapsed. The SSA-1 will also be available in March 2001. []

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


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