This is somewhat a farewell review, as I've had this sytem for 3 years now and am just in the beginning stages of replacing it. Anyway, for the price it is not a bad deal, considering you are getting 6 solidly built speakers that are good (thought not great) performers on most Dolby Digital soundtracks. When I bought this system, though, I was given the impression by the reviews on this site that it would be a solid peroformer on 2-channel music as well, but unfortunately that did not turn out to be the case. When reproducing "trebley" material such as a solo guitar, piano, etc., these speakers can sound crystal clear and so might hide their weaknesses on certain genres of music (e.g. wolrd beat). If you listen to a lot of rock, as I do, though, the difficulties the Compact Theater has in handling mid-ranges become apparent very quickly. My conception of an ideal stereo system is one that envelops your head with the music, so that it does not matter where you turn as you listen, the sound is still there. With these speakers, though, the center of the music has always felt like its been nailed somewhere to the rear wall, so when listening I often find myself tilting my head and straining my ears to catch the material I have no problem hearing on a pair of cheap headphones. Denial being a powerful thing, I thought it might be the accoustics of the room, the tuning of the receiver (a Harman Kardon AVR 75), or even the height of the speakers that were at fault. After fiddling with all these variables to little avail for about a year, though, I sadly came to the conclusion that this system is probably WORSE for music than my Nakamichi SP-3d computer speakers! As I've begun my search for a replacement system, however, I have been heartened by the fact that the Compact Theater is not much worse on music than any of the sub-$1000 speakers you'll find in your typical consumer eletronics chain store.
The Compact Theater 1 is a great product from Atlantic Technology, whose higher priced speaker systems have gotten numerous praise as recommended systems. (check them out at www.besthometheater.com) This particular speaker set is the most modestly priced entry level system. It is great for small setups, like in a dorm room or apartment to take the leap into 5.1. Standard binding posts are on the speakers, which also take banana plugs if you so wish.
The speakers are not full range, so you will need to do some tweaking with the subwoofer to be able to get a nice blend from all the speakers. The subwoofer is the 162. 8inch front firing, 75 watts. Again, 8 inches isn't really that big, so you'll need to do some tweaking to get a blend that you like. Also the speakers are quite directional, so you need to play with positioning to get a nice blend between speakers, (for example when a jet does a left to right flyover) Once you get all the tweaking down though, the system should sounds great.
If you have some more money, consider the Compact Theater Two which should offer a significant upgrade over the CT1. I haven't heard it, but the bigger speakers should make it easier to get the right blend among the speakers than with the CT1. The bigger subwoofer will also make the low end more ambient rather than localized. For the price though, this is a really good buy from a great company.
I could probably just re-write the last review. I bought or demo'd the same three systems (plus an AR build set) and came to the same conclusion.
I originally purchased a set of the Klipsch Quintets (w/o a subwoofer, because I had a cheapo Ultimate Sub). They were very small and sleek looking , and sounded great for HT. Unfortunately, they were lacking muscially (thin sounding).
I continued researching on this site and purchased the CT-1's (from Onecall, of course). Before setting up the whole system, though, I tried the Atlantic's sub with Quintets and found a siginifcant improvement (my Ultimate sub was part of the problem). Next I hooked up the CT-1's. They are approximately twice the size and not as sleek, but the sound was incredibly full for both music and movies.
So I had a dilemna, form v. function. I originally convinced my wife that I was purchasing new speakers to eliminate the "dorm look" in our family room (by the way, I was looking specifically for speakers to hang high on the wall). The Klipsch were very classy looking, sounded good for movies, and movie/TV watching was "supposed" to be my main use. But the sound of the CT-1's was too good to pass up (and they're NOT ugly, just not sleek).
I have not regretted my decision to keep the CT-1's. I have actually started using the family room to listen to music more often. Previously, CD listening was done mostly in my cars (w/ Infinity and Bose sound systems). Now I can't beat my home sound system. For the money ($500), I couldn't find anything comparable.
My System: Atlantic Compact Theater 1 Speakers (New) Denon AVR-2800 Receiver (New) Pioneer 302 DVD Changer (New) Magnavox VCR (old) Toshiba 30" TV (old)
By the way, this site is awesome. I made my purchases based on the reviews and always from places that offered a generous return policy. If possible, it is always best to demo equipment in your home.
My primary interest was in good music speakers 1st, and HT 2nd. I was working on a limited budget and needed to make the most of my purchase. I had listened to several HT as well as floor standing speakers before narrowing the competition to the Energy Take-5s and the Atlantic Technology “Compact Theater One”. Below is a review of my comparison.
Take-5 ($800 including 8”sub): These speakers are very attractive and small. If you like the “Black Piano” finish, you will like these. They appear to be well constructed and the finish work is excellent. They were not as heavy as I would have expected and the speaker grills seem a bit fragile (they might not survive being knocked off a speaker stand). For an entry-level HT speaker these have an excellent reputation. For music listening they also have a reputation for lacking in mid-range. When I listened to these with CD music, the speakers unfortunately were not well placed. But, the vocals seemed thin and the mid-range was a bit lacking. If your primary interest is good looking, small, budget, HT speakers, these should suit you well. For music listening, you could potentially do better.
CT-1 ($500+ shipping including 8” sub): I ordered a set of these from onecall.com. They allow a money back (including return shipping) 30 day home trial. For ease of handling this should have been shipped in two boxes instead of one. The box was a bit banged up, but the speakers were fine. The first thing that impressed me was the heavy, solid build. They are not as sexy as the Take-5, but the Black Ash cabinets look fine. There was one small flaw in the finish of one speaker. The cabinets and mid-range drivers are substantially larger than the T5s, and the performance confirms this. They appear to be very well constructed and would easily survive a fall from a speaker stand. I hooked them up to my Denon AVR-1600 and they sounded very good with CD music. There was not as much bass or treble extension as I had hoped for, however. I was using an older Technics CD player and decided it was time for an upgrade. I purchased a Denon DCM-370 CD player ($269). This model has capability to play HDCDs. I don’t have any HDCDs, but this capability requires a better DAC and filters in the player. As a result regular CDs sound even better. This was just what my system needed. The sound across all frequencies sounded great. The detail and clarity surprised me at times. What I really like is how easy these speakers are on the ears. I can listen for hours at moderately loud levels with no fatigue. I can’t say that about my old gear. BTW: My wife no longer complains about my loud music, it sounds too good. For HT I only have a Stereo VCR and Dolby Pro-logic, but it is a blast to watch movies. I can’t wait to get a DVD player and try Dolby Digital sound. I have no doubt it will be awesome. After two weeks of use these speakers sound even better. My decision; these are keepers. They are not going back. They sound great for music and HT. I imagine I could match or better these for $800-$1000, but why spend the extra $$$? I’m saving the extra $$$ for decent speaker stands and cables. For the money spent these speakers can not be beat. PERIOD! My original plans were to use these for primary HT use and back-up stereo use, till I could save up for some decent tower speakers. The CT1s sound so good with music, I don’t really need separate music speakers now.
I also listened to the Klipsch Quintets- Nice speakers, but with the cost of the sub added in I could not justify the higher $$$. Infinity HTIB and Bose AM-5- These sound OK till you hear better. Both cost more than the CT1s, and are substantially inferior IMO. I listened to a number of floor standing speakers that don’t sound as good as the CT1s for the same price. This is my humble review. You may have different needs requiring different speakers. I hope this has been helpful. Good luck, TR
These speakers are outstanding for both home theater as well as just audio. I am particulary amazed at the realism and clarity that they reproduce. The subwoofer is configurable to enable crossover that virtually eliminates any transitional gaps between high/mid and low frequency sounds. These are well-constructed speakers.
The subwoofer is very tight and clean sounding, as well as very efficient. There's a timer mechanism in the subwoofer that shuts it down after several minutes of silence. However, I don't believe that the thing completely shuts off, but rather, just "sleeps" at a lower energy consumption level. I'd like to find out for sure.
The price is very good for what you get. I picked these up on sale at Onecall.com for just under $500US. I have audio-savvy friends that came over and were blown away by the quality of the sound. A buddy of mine ordered the Compact Theater 2 system and is thrilled with it as well. So, that's another option to consider when purchasing.
My system includes: - Sony STR-DB930 Receiver - Sony S330 DVD Player - Old Teac 5-disc CD Changer