I’ve had a personal curiosity about home theater (HT) speakers systems for 20 plus years. In the late 1980’s with the advent hifi vcrs the concept of rear channel surround sound became possible in homes. I first tried the setup using a Technics Dolby surround processor amp with two rear speakers. The results were pretty spotty. With movies such as Top Gun and Runaway Train, the results were impressive. But on most videos the sound appeared and left on a whim. Eventually, I packed away the setup for 18 years until I sold it on eBay. Within the past year, I’ve been asked to assist the father’s of a couple of students in setting up their 5.1 home theater rigs.
Over the past years I would receive the occasional email requesting A$$A review HT speaker systems as a music system. I usually replied that we were focused on two channel only. Then two things happened, the first was the unbelievable run by the Colorado Rockies in reaching the World Series. The second was a review I saw of a wellknown audio company’s HT speaker line, which looked suspiciously similar to the Aperion Audio 422 Harmony 5.1 system. With these two thoughts in mind I fired off an email to John Wanderscheid of Aperion, and within a week I picked up the 422 Intimus Harmony 5.1 system.
- Front & Rear Intimus 422-LR Dimensions: 7.5″ H x 5 ” W x 6 ” D Frequency Response: 100 Hz to 20 kHz Sensitivity: 86dB
- Driver Configuration: 2-Way
- Center Intimus 422-C
- Dimensions: 7.5″ H x 5 ” W x 6 ” D Frequency Response: 100 Hz to 20 kHz Sensitivity: 86dB
- Driver Configuration: 2-Way
- Subwoofer Intimus S8
- Dimensions: 14.5″ H x 10.5″ W x 15″ D Frequency Response: 30 Hz to 180 Hz Sensitivity: N/A
- Driver Configuration: 8” Poly Subwoofer Power: (Continuous): 100 Watts, (Maximum): 200 Watts
- Price: $799
Aperion Audio Intimus 422 Harmony review
Normally, I make sure to get a wood grain finish on all the speaker reviews I do. I’m not a fan of black as it reminds me of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, in the case of the 422 Harmony’s I must confess that the piano black is very attractive and the speakers visually disappeared in the room.
Like all Aperion speakers, the 422’s are made of a 1 inch thick MDF. All the edges have been smoothed on the black lacquer version, which makes the high-gloss finish even better looking. The cabinets are sealed with a single, recessed binding post. The front panel has a flange that acts as a faceplate for both the driver and tweeter. The driver is a 4” mineral-filled polyprophelene unit. The tweeter is Aperion’s respected 1” silk dome.
The Sub 8 subwoofer is a front firing unit. In order to keep up with the quick response of the small satellite drivers, the 8” woofer is designed of the same polyprophelene material with quick excursion capabilities. The amplifier is designed for line-level input, with a line out back to the amplifier for equipment that has bass control capability. Brass spikes are provided for those who feel the bottom frequencies are being exaggerated due to flooring issues.
The key is that all six pieces of the 422 Harmony are constructed with sonic replication in mind, unlike the plastic molded crap and drivers that cost less than a Big Mac that a few big NAMES pass off for sonic engineering. Sadly, those brands hold sway over too large a segment of our population, and convince buyers to settle for mediocrity. Thankfully, Aperion Audio, among others bring forth quality in the face of this storm.
Having just purchased a plasma TV, the setup is temporary. I placed the two front speakers on the thick cedar mantle above the fireplace. The center channel placed below the television on a shelf, and the rear speakers hanging from the rear corners of my rectangular family room thanks to some speaker brackets courtesy of Matt at Aperion. The subwoofer sat to the left of the plasma.
The setup complete, I turned on Game One of the World Series. The pre-game show had background music playing to add flavor to the very noisy Boston crowd. I had read previously that the 422 Harmony setup plays best with the sub near the center channel. I have to agree with this assessment, as over the review period I tried the sub in various locations, but found the sound a bit disconnected in comparison to my initial placement.
Within a few minutes I knew I could never be happy going back to the TV-only speakers for anything other than the most basic programming. The surround truly did make me feel as if I was present on the upper level of a baseball stadium. The energy of the Red Sox crowd transferred into my room adding to the excitement.
A few days later, my wife and I watched a recorded episode of Desperate Housewives. The audio fun came from hearing the sounds of the neighborhood in the background and the distance recreated in comparison to the main conversation. The critical factor to me with television sound is the clarity of the dialogue. For all the wonders of stereo television broadcasts, I’ve been very frustrated by the influx of extra sound that interferes with the characters conversations. The 422 Center does a fine job of presenting voices in a clean and detailed manner. The drivers may be small, but they offer realism and range well beyond their size.
How about movies? For a typical home this system will impress and gain fans. I decided to challenge the 422 Harmony’s by playing my most sonically dynamic movie I own, The Right Stuff, with its concussive opening scene of the X-1 breaking the sound barrier, to the Mercury rockets, the room filled with the sonic thunder of NASA’s solid boosters. I hadn’t heard the movie like that since I originally saw it in the theaters.
I should qualify this part by saying that I wasn’t able to borrow any SACD discs. So, the music came from standard redbook cd’s and my iPod. Since most people who would buy this system would be using standard disc I feel this to be a fair situation. The first difference I had to get used to was the non-reflective sound coming from behind. It takes a bit of getting used to, as I believe my brain had been trained to expect ever so slight delay from years of two-channel listening.
I enjoyed the 422 Harmony group most in casual listening while playing with the dog, or perusing the various audio publications. The Aperion’s present a very comfortable sonic signature, there’s no strain or edginess. I wouldn’t call it soft, but more like comfortable and smooth. I believe there is something to be said being able to relax and enjoy life with music as a decoration.
Many Sunday mornings I. like much of the western world enjoy reading the paper with a cup of coffee. Many times my wife will be baking. During these times we enjoy listening to James Taylor or Enya. It goes back to the pleasant, relaxing nature of those moments that the 422 Harmony’s blended right in, lending another element into simple calm of the morning.
I also hooked up a single pair of 422 LR’s and the sub to my secondary system, consisting of a Harman Kardon 680i receiver and my iPod. As a 2.1 rig, this made for a nice combination. Impressed by this little experiment, I added the second pair of 422 LR’s to the mix. The result is one that virtually any college student would be please, whether it be based around an iPod or their computer.
The Aperion Audio Intimus 422 Harmony is an introductory 5.1 surround system, although it does many things well, it shouldn’t be construed as the equal to a $4,000 setup. Imaging is pleasant, though not as defined as a true audio monitor. The solo piano work of George Winston in Forest Details lacked a bit of the “wow” factor as the intensity of the key strikes just can’t be duplicated with the authority of Aperion’s fine 632 monitors. I can promise that if you’re looking more something more, Mike and or Caleb at Aperion’s headquarters would be more than happy to assist the buyer in a more powerful Aperion setup.
A second caveat is for those hungry for a more intense bass experience, one can upgrade to either the S10 subwoofer, or their S8-APR with two passive subwoofers that I reviewed in the October 2006 issue.
Final Thoughts about Intimus 422 Harmony
It’s good to step out of one’s comfort zone from time-to-time. I was a bit concerned about writing this review, as I would be venturing into new territory. In the end, I’m glad I did for it made me more aware of the role of good audio in video programs. I’ve had the opportunity to assist families at the school where I teach, setting up more expensive Acoustimass 10 surround sound system by Bose. I can without a doubt testify that the Aperion Intimus 422 Harmony 5.1 out performs the Bose by leaps and bounds. The satellites and center have richness, detail and tonal qualities that the Bose just can’t match, pure and simple. If your budget is limited to under $1000 dollars, one would be foolish not to take advantage of Aperion’s thirty day guarantee and try the 422 Harmony in one’s own home. I seriously doubt you’ll be repacking the boxes.
from aﬀordableaudio, By Mark Marcantonio