Teufel System 5 home cinema speakers
Sound choice for movie buffs?
Review Last year Berlin-based manufacturer Teufel produced what it called "the first surround sound speaker set to be certified to THX's stringent THX Select2 standards" with the clue's-in-the-name moniker of the System 5 THX Select2. The product was able to match its specs to THX's criteria by using two subwoofers and three-way surrounds, which is probably a little excessive for most UK living rooms.
Components from Teufel's THX Select2 products make up the System 5
Now Teufel has brought out a trimmed-down version, simply called the System 5. It has the same front and centre speakers, but with just a single sub, smaller surrounds and a lower price. No, it doesn't reach the George Lucas-founded THX's exacting paper spec standards for cinema-grade surround sound reproduction, but then again, that's not necessarily something the average living room is likely to do justice to anyway, let alone have room for.
While there may be a little less of it, a quick glance at the System 5 gives you the clue that this is a sound-first system that makes little concession towards the so-called SAF (Spouse Approval Factor) which many of today's systems take so seriously.
While other systems make efforts to blend into the background or look so stylishly beautiful that anyone not so audio astute as their buyer can still appreciate them, these Teufels are big ol' cheap-looking (but not cheap-feeling) MDF boxes with sharp corners. While surround setups are always in danger of dominating a room, especially in the matt black livery we trialled, a brown wood-effect wenge timber version is also available that might blend in a bit more with some lounges.
The S500 speakers take on the duties for front and centre output
The System 5 package is considerably cheaper than its fully THX’d brother at £899 (as opposed to £1,349) and despite falling short of THX specs overall, the system still uses the S500 left, right and centre speakers from the THX Select 2 system, along with smaller S50 D dipole surrounds and a single S5000 subwoofer.
The S500 FCR front and centre speakers measure a reasonably compact 320 x 210 x 160mm and feature a pair of 5in flat diaphragm bass/mid drivers surrounding a 1in textile dome tweeter. The idea behind the unusual flat design is that the driver can radiate midrange frequencies across the entire diaphragm, so avoiding the potential for phase shifts, which manufacturers spend a lot of R&D time and money seeking to eradicate from their more conventional cone speakers.
Designed for wall-mounting, the S50 D dipole is effectively two speaker units back to back
The S50 D dipole surround speakers include a pair of 4in bass/mid cone drivers and two 1in fabric dome tweeters, each pair facing in opposite directions. These are designed to be wall mounted (hooks are already fitted), and if you can't do that, Teufel suggests using another pair of S500s instead – that’ll set you back £100 more. They're a scaled-down version of the THX Select 2 surrounds, which were bigger, and included an additional 5in woofer at the rear of the speaker.
All the speakers have a single pair of gold-plated binding posts and the drivers are covered by a snugly fitting cover which stretches over the outside of the cabinet without the need for screws, clips or magnets.
The S5000 subwoofer uses a single downward-firing 12in driver inside its hefty 55-litre casing, and promises 200W of power from its built-in Class D amplifier. On the back is a phase switch, volume control (with a THX recommended level), auto start switch (it'll switch itself off it hasn't received a signal for 20 minutes) plus RCA in and outs for linking other subs should you feel the need. And, of course, it's no lightweight at 370 x 540 x 470mm and 23kg – like the rest of this system, nothing about it is discreet.
Discreet or subtle it may not be, but what the System 5 delivers is power and a strong sense of control, and even in this single sub version, there's still plenty of both. Apart from the S5000 subwoofer, there’s no additional amplification so I hooked the System 5 up to my THX Select2 certified Onkyo TX-NR807 AV amplifier.
The downward-facing 12in subwoofer unit delivers up to 200W of blood-separating bass
The System 5’s midrange output proved transparently clear and detailed throughout, whether it's delivering whispered dialogue or front and centre effects, and the THX-certified S500s proved very adept at conveying the main information in quieter scenes without allowing the background to dominate.
Of course, one sub isn't going to have the same grunt and oomph as two, but as far as delivering taught, controlled bass frequencies capable of rattling floorboards, the S5000 is more than tasty enough on its own. It's quick too, delivering explosions and booming soundtracks with tightly accurate aplomb.
Just one S5000 amplified subwoofer in this setup – THX Select2 certification demands two
The S50 D dipoles do exactly what they're supposed to, delivering a spread of sound effects and incidental details from a diffused source that help to draw you into the action on the screen rather than distracting you from it.
There's no getting around it, the Teufel System 5 is no stranger to the ugly stick. But if you can live with the unsubtle looks – and it's not like Teufel doesn't have other systems which are much easier on the eye – you can treat yourself to a powerfully incisive audio performance with enough change left from a grand to get yourself some decent cables too. ®
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