I have been an NHT fan for over a decade. I bought a set of 2.3a's and a 1.1c for part of a Dolby Prologic system in the early 90's. I loved the sound. I eventually moved to Dolby Digital with some NHT super Ones.
When I saw the 1.5s on ebay I decided to use them with a second system I was putting up in the house. When I hooked them up with my secondary receiver and listened I was surprised and disappointed. They sounded harsh and unpleasant. I thought "these won an award?" I read that these speakers don't do well with cheap electronics and that's what they were connected to...a low price Sony. I later purchased a Yamaha vsx-3300 on ebay along with 3 nht s1.4 and a Cambridge P-1000 subwoofer. The 1.5's now sound excellent. The 1.4's aren't a perfect match for the 1.5s but the system works well together. I use the system for movies and listen to music on the 1.5s in stereo. I eventually will pickup a few more 1.5s to replace the 1.4s
Bought these, along with a NHT SP-2 subwoofer for a home theater set-up based on a friend's recommendation (as well as the postings on these boards)off EBay. Glad I did. Although the set-up is excellent for movies, these small speakers really shine with music. They are clear with a very good sound stage. They may not have a "big" bottom end, but the well-matched sub takes care of that. A wonderful speaker that seems to go far beyond its' small size.
I purchased these NHT 1.5s about a month ago after reading the reviews on this site (and other sites) and finding a reasonably good deal on them online. I do not have an NHT dealer in my area, so this is the only way I could hear them. At the same time, I decided to audition other "good" bookshelf speakers (had to get rid of my Maggies due to cat issues).
I'll cut to the chase and tell you that I settled on a pair of Sonus Faber Concertinos and ended up selling the NHTs. The NHTs were beautiful--the finish was perfect (not nearly up to the level of the Sonus Fabers, but also not as expensive). The sound, however, was something else entirely.
I let the NHTs burn in for about a week (perhaps they needed even longer), but they always, ALWAYS sounded thin and quite tipped-up in the highs (and yes, I DO have a sub). My equipment isn't bad, so I don't think the problems are upstream. Granted, the extra "detail" revealed things I had never hear before, but I found that the Sonus Fabers (and the B&Ws and Paradigms I listened to) revealed ALL of the same details, but in a much more approachable, and musically convincing way. In fact, both my girlfriend and I started avoiding playing certain types of music (rock and anything with complex passages) because it become too grating and uncomfortable. And I'm not just talking about "poorly recorded" discs either... some very well recorded material that I recently heard on a $20k Martin Logan set-up was not pleasant either. That's not music to MY ears.
I'm writing this review not because I don't like NHT, but because I want people to understand what they're getting with these speakers. If you have "soft" electronics (tube, NAD) or a soft room, these might just work out for you. But if you have Japanese electronics (Denon, etc.), you'll suddenly be changing what you listen to.
I have a feeling these speakers might be well served by upgraded crossover components. I've read that people have good results with that. However, it's no surprise in my mind that this particular speaker was not one of NHT's best sellers. I've heard worse, but as always, I would urge anyone to audition these and other speakers before making your purchase decision.
I first encountered these little gems in '98 and at their price point of $600 they were one of a handful of speakers to consider which included monitor ,PSb,and B&W. Although not as rich or "lush" sounding as the English brands they offered a very natural, nuetral, and convincing "live" sound; with decent
equipment and a good recording such as Chris Isaak's "Forever Blue" they had that "involving magic" that few speakers in this range possess. They also sound a hell of a lot bigger than they look when placed in a small to medium room and with ample space to perform. While most speakers at this level tend to sound the same, the 1.5s were very, very, transparent with amazing soundstage depth and jaw-dropping detail. Bass response, although a bit limited, is very tight and musical due to the sealed design. The only real drawback is that when placed with cheap A/V receivers they can sound a bright...go figure...these are audiophile speakers which easily rival those at twice the price including PSB Minis and Monitor studio 2s.
THey still sound better than the SB-3 model which replaced these. All in all, a fine musical monitor that has that "you are there" transparency.
TOO bad NHT was bought out several years ago...and their Chief Designer left as well...with the 1.5s and the rest of their discontinued musical line being his crowning glory...NHT has focused more intently on HT...if you can find a used pair buy them!
This is sort of an "after the fact" review in that I've sold my NHT 1.5s and replaced them with NHT ST-4s. So this is more of a eulogy. The 1.5s completely set a new standard when they came out for accuracy, detail and imaging. At the time, the slight brightness and lack of refinement was easily acceptable because most other speakers had major fatal flaws as opposed to slight "issues". Even today, they hold their own, but with newer speakers out, they aren't what they were. The biggest issue was the crossovers which were dumbed down in favor of a good cabinet and drivers. However, mine were modified and it made an enormous difference in the imaging and refinement. Still, the new SB-3s were better overall. I still miss certain aspects of the 1.5s, however. In any case, I have found that putting SB-3 crossovers in the 1.5s not only work, but transform the speaker into a far more refined, richer, smoother, better imaging speaker. This is not expensive, less than $100 from a dealer, although there isn't a "retail price" on the SB-3 crossovers so they are free to set their own. I was surprised that this would work, but NHT informed me that the 1.5s and SB-3s are very similar electrical, physically and driver-wise. They were a little surprised that the results were so good, but said there wasn't any harm in doing so. I couldn't hear anything that the mod did any worse, everything, subjectively, was better. Although I have fond memories of the 1.5s, I won't be going back, even after the modifications. I'm currently salivating on the prospect of new, more expensive NHT bookshelf speakers that are supposed to be shown off at CES. I am rating the 1.5s according to what they would be to someone buying them used now. Add at least a point in both categories if you upgrade the crossover as it makes a huge difference and thoroughly modernizes the speakers.
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