HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



April
2004

Reviewed by
Roger Kanno
REVIEWERS' CHOICE 2004


Energy
Veritas

V2.3i / V2.0Ci / V2.0Ri / e:XL-S12
Home-Theater Speaker System

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: Veritas V2.3i floorstanding speaker
Price: $2800 USD per pair
Dimensions: 40.75"H x 8.75"W x 14.1"D
Weight: 68 pounds each

Model: Veritas V2.0Ci center-channel speaker
Price: $800 USD
Dimensions: 23"W x 9.1"H x 13.1"D
Weight: 39 pounds

Model: Veritas V2.0Ri surround speaker
Price: $1100 USD per pair
Dimensions: 14.5"H x 13"W x 7.1"D
Weight: 19 pounds each

Model: e:XL-S2 subwoofer
Price: $700 USD
Dimensions: 17.7"W x 16.9"H x 16.9"D
Weight: 45 pounds

System Price: $5400 USD

Warranty: Five years parts and labor (V2.3i, V2.0Ci, V2.0Ri); one year parts and labor (e:XL-S12)


Features
  • Dual-Hyperdrive woofers (V2.3i, V2.0Ci, V2.0Ri)
  • Convergent Source Module (V2.3i)
  • Threaded Rod Mounting System (V2.3i)
  • High-gloss black or cherry-veneer finish (V2.3i, V2.0Ci, V2.0Ri)
  • Chambered drivers (V2.3i, V2.0Ci, V2.0Ri)
  • Biwire- or biamp-capable (V2.3i, V2.0Ci, V2.0Ri)
  • Soundfield Management System adjustable-dispersion pattern (V2.0Ri)
  • Dovetail cabinet construction
  • 150W internal amplifier (e:XL-S12)
  • 12" woofer (e:XL-S12)
  • High-level inputs and outputs (e:XL-S12)
  • Mono RCA input for crossover or direct input (e:XL-S12)
  • Continuously variable phase (e:XL-S12)
  • Gold-plated binding posts

Energy Speaker Systems produces some excellent and affordable products in their Connoisseur, Take, and Encore series, but they’re probably best known for their former flagship model, the Veritas 2.8, and its smaller sibling, the Veritas 1.8, both discontinued a few years ago. John Tchilinguirian, Energy’s chief designer and the man responsible for the original Veritas models, has produced a completely new line, the Veritas i, which includes floorstanding, bookshelf, center-channel, and surround speakers.

Veritas i is the second iteration of the Veritas line. Energy’s Dual-Hyperdrive woofer has been totally redesigned, along with associated crossover modifications and minor cosmetic changes. Energy markets their speakers with the catchphrase "Musical Truth," and the fittingly named Veritas (Latin for truth) maintains its position as Energy’s top line. For this review, Energy provided the Veritas V2.3i mains, V2.0Ci center, and V2.0Ri surrounds, as well as an Energy e:XL-S12 subwoofer, which is not part of the Veritas line. The system retails for $5400.

Have you ever seen the truth?

All of the Veritas i speakers seem built to an exceptionally high standard, especially the V2.3i and V2.0Ci. The cabinets are incredibly solid and seemingly free from unwanted resonances and vibrations, and the speakers are surprisingly heavy for their size. The fit and finish are excellent, and everything -- from the tastefully accented top and endcaps to the gold plaque bearing the designers’ names and the high-quality binding posts -- suggest that a great deal of care and attention to detail has gone into these speakers’ design and manufacturing. The attractive, black high-gloss finish of my review samples complemented the metallic bass drivers, with their solid-aluminum phase plugs, to give the speakers an elegant yet modern appearance.

The V2.3i features Energy’s Convergent Source Module: a 1" aluminum-dome tweeter and 2" aluminum-dome midrange, each housed in its own chamber yet mounted close enough together to act as a single point source. In addition are two 6.5" Dual-Hyperdrive woofers, each of which has a dual voice-coil to (reportedly) reduce distortion, a massive heatsink to dissipate heat, and a stabilizing rod that attaches to the back of the woofer and is bolted to the rear of the enclosure to reduce cabinet resonances and woofer vibrations. The enclosure is front-ported. On the rear are two sets of widely spaced and extremely high-quality gold-plated binding posts for biamping or biwiring; on the bottom, heavy-duty, cone-like floor spikes. The tops of the cabinets are finished with a rounded rubberized endcap. The V2.3i is a mid-sized floorstander, but weighs an impressive 68 pounds; it’s about as solid and substantial a speaker as I have encountered.

At 39 pounds, the V2.0Ci center-channel is just as solidly built and nicely finished. It has two Dual-Hyperdrive woofers but lacks the Convergent Source Module, instead using only the 1" aluminum-dome tweeter, situated horizontally between the two bass drivers. There are two rear ports and two sets of the same high-quality binding posts as are found on the V2.3i.

The V2.0Ri surround speaker’s unique design feature, which Energy calls their Soundfield Management System, allows users to select the dispersion pattern that best suits their listening rooms and preferences. A single Dual-Hyperdrive woofer and 1" aluminum-dome tweeter face forward and fire directly into the room, while two side-firing 3" midrange drivers are mounted on opposite sides of the enclosure. The output of the midrange drivers can be switched among Dipole, Bipole, or Corner operation -- in the latter setting only one driver is active. The level control adjusts the output of the midrange drivers from a maximum approximately 1dB below the level of the front-firing drivers, all the way down to completely off. The 19-pound V2.0Ri is an acoustic-suspension design with a sealed enclosure and two sets of binding posts that, while not as substantial as those on the V2.3i or V2.0Ci, are still of very good quality.

Energy’s e:XL-S12 subwoofer has a 150W amplifier, a single 12" driver, a rear port, and an auto on/off circuit. There are high-level inputs and outputs and two mono low-level inputs, including one that bypasses the crossover functions. The low-pass filter is adjustable from 50Hz to 100Hz, and the high-pass filter on the high-level outputs is fixed at 80Hz. Phase is continuously variable, from 0 to 180 degrees.

Getting to the truth

I placed the V2.3i’s in my room and toed them in slightly for optimal imaging. The V2.0Ci was placed atop my direct-view CRT monitor, the V2.0Ri’s on 50" stands to the sides and slightly behind my listening position. I set the V2.0Ri’s to Dipole mode and the level just below the maximum setting, as is recommended in Energy’s owner’s manual when the surrounds are closer to the listening position than the main speakers. However, this made the surround channels slightly too prominent, so I backed them off a bit, which made them less conspicuous and gave excellent surround envelopment with relatively precise imaging. For an even more precise sound, the midrange drivers can be turned off completely, or the user can experiment with various combinations of the output level and the Dipole, Bipole, and Corner modes. I placed the e:XL-S12 subwoofer along the side wall, which is where subwoofers usually end up in my room -- in that location, the bass seems to integrate best with the other speakers and provides the smoothest response.

You can’t handle the truth

I was a bit disappointed with the sound of the Veritas i system right out of the box. The treble was smooth and extended, and the midrange was extremely clear and sounded especially good with vocals, but the V2.3i’s bass seemed somewhat muted and not well integrated. All that changed after a few hours of listening at comparatively high volume levels: after break-in, the speakers really opened up and sounded wonderfully coherent. Although I rarely notice much difference in the sounds of speakers before and after break-in, the Veritases, and especially the V2.3i’s, seemed to benefit noticeably from a few hours of spirited playback.

Once the speakers had settled in, I was struck by their solid imaging, tightly defined bass, and stunning midrange. The system’s very neutral, balanced overall sound was fast and detailed yet surprisingly unassuming. The more I listened, the more I appreciated its clear, uncolored character. The midrange remained sparklingly clear and the treble was extended, yet smooth and nonfatiguing. The bass was not overemphasized, as is often the case with small to mid-sized floorstanders. However, when called upon, these speakers, particularly the V2.3i’s, could reach down quite low and play extremely loud with very little apparent distortion. There was barely a hint of boominess, even at room-filling levels -- surprising for such a reasonably priced and relatively compact system.

Multichannel sound

The Veritases’ clean and open quality throughout the frequency spectrum and the system’s excellent power-handling resulted in super-dynamic sound. The gunshots from the climactic shootout in Open Range sounded uncompressed and shockingly realistic. The retorts of rifles were distinguishable from the sounds of revolvers, and both hit with an immediacy that was alarming. The concussion of the blasts echoed from all speakers, including the surrounds, and was just as jarring and frightening as I thought they would be in reality.

The system’s dazzling midrange was apparent on the multichannel SACD version of "Down to the River to Pray," from Alison Krauss & Union Station Live [Rounder 11661-0516-6]. Krauss’s voice was mesmerizing, with a crystalline quality that penetrated the darkness of the quiet background. The subtle and refined surrounds gave the recording great depth, and the baritone and bass backing vocals blended perfectly with the lead vocals. My reference for multichannel vocal recordings, the DTS CD of Boyz II Men’s II [DTS 71021-51001-2-8], also sounded crystal-clear. The voices from all channels were well delineated, which provided a sparklingly pristine sound and a totally enveloping soundscape that was both detailed and extremely engaging

Although not as dark and edgy as the original film or as compelling as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines provides plenty of thrills and adds some new twists to the Terminator franchise, along with innovative special effects and an engrossing soundtrack. The scenes in the cemetery were particularly involving, with the realistic sound of chirping birds and the echoing bullhorn of the S.W.A.T. commander in the surrounds. The music in this scene is not recorded at a particularly high level, but it was powerfully dynamic and added a sense of tension to this scene, and to the entire film. The Veritas system reproduced this scene with remarkable fidelity in all channels.

Musical truth: more than just a catch phrase

The Veritas i surround-sound speaker system sounded excellent with movie soundtracks and high-resolution multichannel music, but the V2.3i main speakers were even more impressive when playing back two-channel sources. The remarkable midrange purity of the V2.3i grabbed me at first, but its bass performance turned out to be one of the speaker’s strongest attributes.

In my review of the Simaudio Moon Aurora amplifier, I described how it seemed as if the woofers of the V2.3i were directly coupled to the amplifier -- the control was that absolute. This resulted in a sound unlike just about anything I’ve heard from other relatively compact floorstanders. Although the bass did not quite reach down to the lowest octave, it had an incredibly fast attack, equally quick recovery, and a room-filling ability that was astonishing. With cuts such as "Ganges Delta Blues," from Ry Cooder and V.M. Bhatt’s A Meeting by the River CD [Water Lily Acoustics 29], the bass from the percussion was amazingly articulate and well integrated, even at very high volume levels.

While the V2.3i’s bass performance was indeed impressive, its midrange was absolutely stunning. With stereo recordings such as Diana Krall’s "All or Nothing at All," from the DVD-Audio of Love Scenes [Impulse! 440 053 247-9], I sat mesmerized by the palpability of Krall’s voice. It had such presence and immediacy that every nuance and inflection of her performance was reproduced with spine-tingling clarity.

Comparison

Although it costs $3500 less, the Veritas i system was comparable in many ways to the Snell THX Ultra2 system ($8900), which I recently reviewed. The Snell system sounded a little darker and warmer than the Veritas i, which sounded slightly more transparent and dynamic. The coherence of the front soundstage was superior with the Snells, with their identically matched XA1900THX L/C/R speakers, and their overall bass response was also superior, most likely due to Snell’s massive and much more expensive ICS Sub24 subwoofer. The Veritas i system’s surround envelopment was on a par with the Snell’s, but the excellent Snell SR30THX surrounds provided just a bit more fidelity than the Veritas V2.0Ri’s. This was apparent on the Boyz II Men DTS CD, for example; the vocals in the surrounds had a bit more sparkle and clarity than through the Veritas i. Still, the Energy system more than held its own, and seemed to be lacking only when directly compared to the much more expensive Snells.

Where the Veritas i system bettered the Snell was with two-channel music. The coherent sound and pristine midrange and treble of the floorstanding Veritas V2.3i’s outperformed the smaller Snell XA1900THXs with most types of music, especially music that contained deep bass. While the XA1900THXs could play relatively low on their own, they were no match for the larger V2.3i’s, and although they blended well with Snell’s own ICS Sub24, which had better extension than the e:XL-S12, that combination did not have the same top-to-bottom coherence as the Veritas i system. The Veritas V2.3i’s made few if any compromises when playing back stereo sources, which allowed me to enjoy music without ever thinking I was sacrificing anything by listening to a "home theater" system.

Truth be told

The Energy Veritas i home-theater speaker system provided fantastic performance and exceptional build quality at a price that can be considered a bargain, even at a total system cost of $5400. For that price, you get incredible multichannel and two-channel sound. A bonus is the V2.0Ri surround speaker’s adjustable dispersion pattern, which maximizes placement flexibility. This is unusual for a product at this price, in my experience. The Veritas i system provided outstanding all-around performance in a well-engineered and nicely finished package. I thoroughly enjoyed having them in my reference multichannel system for the extended review period.

Review System
Preamplifiers/Processors - Simaudio Moon Stargate, Bel Canto Design PRe6
Amplifiers - Simaudio Moon Aurora, Bel Canto Design eVo6
Sources - Pioneer DV-45A universal audio/video player, MSB Link DAC III (with 24/96 Upsampling, Half Nelson, and P1000 power-supply upgrades)
Cables - Analysis Plus, Audio Magic, ESP
Monitor - Toshiba CX32H60 direct-view TV
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Energy Speaker Systems
3641 McNicoll Ave.
Scarborough, ON
M1X 1G5
Canada
Phone: (416) 321-1800
Fax: (416) 321-1500

Website: www.energy-speakers.com

 


PART OF THE SOUNDSTAGE NETWORK -- www.soundstagenetwork.com

All contents copyright Schneider Publishing Inc., all rights reserved.
Any reproduction, without permission, is prohibited.

Home Theater & Sound is part of the SoundStage! Network.
A world of websites and publications for audio, video, music and movie enthusiasts.