SuperAudio SB-1 is a 2-way acoustic suspension design which employs a 5.25" woofer whose bass response of 68Hz exceeds the minimum requirements of digital surround formats, as well as offering the SuperAudio 1" metal dome, fluid-cooled tweeter.
I purchased the SB1s based on previous limited experience with older NHT super ones. Thought they sonded great a few years ago and when the time came to switch to a home theater system the size and sound of the SB1 really attracted me. I auditioned them at my local dealer and liked them in the store. Listened to them next to a B&W 300 series and the NHT won out. Also, they are sheilded so they could be placed closer to the TV if need be. Took them home and paired them with a older model NHT VS-1 center, and Phase Tech power 10 sub. I was happy, or so I thought.
Around the same time I purchased my NHTs, my brother was also in the process of building a home theatre system and was leaning toward the B&W 600 series. He suggested I go back to my dealer and audition them. Now to be fair, the 601s3 that I listened to are priced $150 over what the SB1s list for, so I expected some more from the start, but was not prepared for what I experienced. Let me just say that I no longer have the NHTs. The B&W 600 series flat out trounced the NHTs in range, sound stage, imaging, and mid-range clarity. The difference was amazing, even with the smallest B&W 600S3. When listinig to various male and female tracks that are mostly vocals, the NHT was dull, the B&Ws shined, excellent clarity and presence. I few days later I packed up the SB1s and brought them back to the store, the salesman put my well run-in SB1s on the shelf next to the B&Ws. The difference was night and day. The NHTs lack the clarity that I was looking for in music. They were fine for home theatre, but when I would switch to a favorite CD, I was disapointed. I just could not keep them any longer, knowing for a few more bucks I could have the B&Ws.
What I did like about the NHTs was their ability to produce some decent lower range from such a small package. However they should still be paired with a sub, like other reviewers have mentioned, to get full range. They certainly do look great, and they will fit most any small space.
Decent speaker, but not the best for those interested in accurate stereo listening. Good option for strict home theatre application, where video shielding is needed for the front speakers, and small size is a must.
Bought a pair to be used specificially for home theatre. Currently paired with me olde Quad 77 integrated amp, linked to a cheapo DVD player via Nordost Black Knight interconnects and Kimber 8TC speaker cables (cabling overkill, yeah).
The plan is to add the dedicated NHT subwoofer later on, and then a Yamaha DSP for surround sound (maybe a DAC, too), and finally centre and rear speakers. Cables will be swapped to more reasonable Ecosse throughout end of this month.
As it is, the SB1s are bright-sounding speakers. I plugged in a Quad 77 CD just to see how they sound like for hi-fi. Pretty good, but not really synergistic with the Quad, to be honest; I'd imagine something more hifi-ish (NAD or Marantz, maybe?) would be a better match.
That said, the Quad does have a tendency to "mumble" with speakers that have a smoother treble response, hence the decision to go for the brighter, airier qualities of the SB1s. Their bass is not bad at all, actually, but that's because I'd rather have "quality", tight bass than artificially flabby ones. Tho' a sub is definitely required for realism during high-octane scenes.
A bit uninvolving, really, for music, but movie dialogue and effects come through with clarity. Wonder if the sub will sort things out, make it more solid and "bottomy". I still prefer the "wet" midrange of British speakers (was using Dynaudio 50's before; now they're in the main system in the bedroom). So who knows, I might just swap these out for a pair of KEF Q1's?
Love the finish on these mites, though... the piano-black lacquer is simply gorgeous.
I purchased a low end Yamaha home theater in a box system YHT-340 for our weekend condo. I wanted something to use for DVD's and couldn't accommodate a floor sub-woofer. The Yamaha seemed pretty good for the money ($400) and, though I know it is not the correct placement, I could put the narrow sub-woofer on our built in cabinet shelf by the TV. But when we played music, it just didn't cut it. I knew we needed better front speakers to gain some mid range. The problem was I needed to put them on a shelf that would only accommodate around 10 1/2 inches of height. After hitting the usual consumer audio stores finding nothing good in the size I needed, a guy at Circuit City recommended the NHT SB-1's and told me of a dealer in Santa Monica. We went down there and they only had the SB-2's hooked up. They sounded pretty good for their size (though too big for our shelf). They told us the smaller SB-1's sound pretty similar, so we took their word for it. They had a seven day return policy if we weren't satisfied. I hooked them up, put on a CD and couldn't believe how great they sound. The bass isn't there, but our low end Yamaha sub fills in the gap. If you heard this system, you just wouldn't believe it was a relatively cheap theater in a box receiver. The sound is so full and tight. Considering the size, these speakers are amazing. Every time I listen, I can't belive how good they sound. With DVD's they are also unbelievable. My neighbor spent many thousands of dollars having a system custom installed to go with his plasma TV and I think my system sounds better.
Amazing speakers for the price. I am amazed at the depth and extent of soundstage these mini-monitors are able to project. The highs and mids are crystal clear, the best I have EVER heard. Since I am on a limited budget, I use these speakers as mains powered by an old Yamaha integrated amplifier (yes, the old Yamaha integrated amps still sound better than their newer receivers), paired with my Yamaha subwoofer, the system rocks!
As a former SuperZero user (I still own my pair), I came to experience the joys and pains of the legendary SuperZero. Absolutely great midrange, but a little rolled-off on the top, a bit lacking in dynamic range, and, missing any semblance of bass, they were difficult to integrate well with a subwoofer.
I'm using the SB1s on 27.6" Atacama Nexus 7 speaker stands. These stands won a 'What Hi-fi'Awards 2000 Best Buy and are just about perfect for the SB1s, possessing both the right height and a perfectly-sized top plate.
At first, I thought that the SB1s didn't image quite as well as the SuperZero. However, once I toed-in the stands slightly (they were previously pointing straight ahead), the imaging of the SB1s dramatically improved, locking in the image of the piano on "Nojima Plays Liszt" (Reference Recordings).
An unexpected advantage of the added bass extension of the SB1 is placement: I originally had my SuperZeros within about 10" of the rear wall to give the little guys some much needed bass boost. However, the SB1s don't really need this assistance, so I moved the SB1s out to 18" from the rear wall. The combination of greater distance from the back wall and a bit of toe-in caused the SB1s to 'disappear', yielding a rock steady image on "Nojima Plays Liszt" that was both precise, layered, and deep.
The additional bass output of the SB1 also makes it much easier to integrate with a subwoofer. But, be warned, the bass and bass transients that the SB1 does produce are so quick that a really good sub is required. Don't expect to be able to mate this $299 speaker with a $300 sub. I mated mine with the excellent and super-tight, push-pull M&K MX-700 ($1400...see the rave review by Steven Stone in Stereophile). I haven't tried matching the SB1s with NHT's own subwoofers.
For even better results in my home theater system, I use the SB1s with my receiver's internal 100 Hz crossover. Everything below 100 Hz goes to the subwoofer, while everything above goes to the SB1s. Freeing the SB1s of the 100-60 Hz range (the SB1s don't go any lower) increases the definition, imaging, snap, and midrange clarity of even more.
For home cinema, I currently have the SB1s mated to a SuperCenter. The SuperCenter is close enough in sound that it blends reasonably well, although the difference between the old technology and the new is noticeable on multichannel music. I'm anxiously waiting for the day I upgrade to the new SC-1.
As a point of comparison, I had a friend bring over his pair of Totem Model Ones. These speakers are slightly larger than the SB1s, about the same size as the NHT SuperOnes. These speakers received numerous good reviews ('Stereophile', 'What Hi-Fi') and retail for about $1000/pair. The Model Ones, with their bass-reflex port and larger cabinet have a bit more bass, but compared to the sealed cabinet of the SB1s the Model Ones sounded fuzzy and less-tight in the bass. The SB1s postively trounced the Model Ones in the areas of dynamics and quickness. The SB1s also had better imaging, by far, with the soft-dome tweeter of the Model Ones showing its age. While the Model Ones are a bit warmer sounding and forgiving, they are also much less detailed and lacking in rhythm and pace compared to the SB1s.
When both were hooked up to the 85 Hz crossover and the subwoofer was introduced, it was no contest: the SB1s trounced the Model Ones. With everything below 85 Hz being produced by the subs, the single advantage of the Model Ones was eliminated. In fact, the upper-bass of the Model Ones was too slow and plodding to blend seamlessly with the ultra-fast M&K MX-700s.
NHT has the right design philosophy with the SB1: If you're likely to use a subwoofer, why buy an ultra mini-monitor speaker that attempts to fake a sense of bass with an exagerated, slow, and fuzzy mid-bass hump? Match the SB-1s with a sub and you've got a killer 'best value' rig.