Owning a home theater custom store, I can appreciate excellent speakers. And let me tell you, I own the NHT 3.3's and I had to get these for my HT. And let me tell you, the high frequency response in video mode, will actually fool you to believe you ARE in the middle of the movie. I'm not lying, go listen to these things. They are better than any Martin Logan speaker by a far shot. NHT speakers are used by Audiophiles used all over the world. So I'm not dreaming away. The midrange/vocals are clear, and will knock your socks off. Bi-Amp these bad boys if you dare, I own the complete matched set with the VC-3/VR-3, etc. I don't use NHT's sub's though. I use Bob Carvers sub's with 2700 watts of power being pumped to them. My setup goes as follows:
Reciever/Pre-Amp Specs: (1) Bob Carver Sunfire Pre-Amp/Processor: Theater Grand II (2) Bob Carver Cinema Grand II Signature Amps (1) THX-EX/ULTRA 6.1/7.1 Matrix/DTS-ES External Decoder (2) Sunfire Signature Grand Stereo Amplifier (6.1/7.1) Sound Speaker Specs: (4) VT-3 NHT Main Speakers (3) VC-3 NHT Center Speakers (4) VR-3 NHT Surround Speakers (4) Bob Carver True Sub-woofer Signatures Televison/Screen/Projector: Runco DTV-1101 (RGB) Flagship Projector Da-Lite Cinema: 10Ft X 7Ft 16:9 Screen Component Pieces: Marantz SA-1 (SACD/CD Player) Marantz RC5000i LCD Touchscreen Remote Marantz DV7100 Progressive Scan DVD Player
Okay so I sold my last NHT setup, VT-2's all around and upgraded to the VT-3's all around. (VC-3 and VR-3). The wall of sound just got thicker! And ohh the clarity. What is real nice is the remote control for the sub. One draw back is that is does NOT control the volume of the sub.
There was nothing wrong with my old VT-2 towers, but in my quest to find more, I had to have the VT-3's. There is nothing BAD I can say about the sound quality of the big black towers, it is all good and they perform great. Over the VT-2's they seem to have more response and are just a bit more bright. The 1000 W of sub is a BIG jump up from the older VT-2s (and old SA-3 amp) and you can really hear er feel the difference. The VT-3's will devour what ever type of sound or music you like, plus in 5.1 mode the rear array in each of the towers adds that little extra missing from the old VT-2's. Yes each tower has a total of 8 speakers. (yea I know the new VT-2.4's have the rear array but the VT-3's have more definition and depth and sound better with plain old music)
One mistake I did when I set them up was NOT put them inline with my AMP.(RTFM) Lucky for me my HK AVR-80 had pre in/outs. After I put the sub controller in the loop, the bass really became clear and well defined. It got even better when I reconfigured my AVR-80 so the Sub output was off. Sigh! they are very thirsty for power and my HK will have to be upgraded. If you plan on treating yourself to the pleasure of listening to them, make sure you have better than average electronics BEFORE you fire them up. (a sub out on any electronics just won't do it, ask to see them inline with preamplifier and amplifier) And did I mention, you WILL need help getting them home, your wife won't be much help, so bring a buddy.
I am with John, 4 stars for a value and 5 for overall. 4 only because you could use VR-3's all the way around and an external sub for less coin.
I've tried to get this review up, especially since I know exactly why Dobber's listening session ends in frustration. Hopefully, it will go through this time.....
First off, these speakers are absolutely the most versatile speakers I've ever found. Because of the above listed strengths, they are equally adept at classical, rock, jazz, 5.1 music/movies, even country! Previous NHT speakers never quite moved me with classical music, but the bipole speakers and the brighter, airier, more diffuse sound they add is perfect for classical and very Genesis-like or Infinity IRS-like. Their quick, deep bass does much justice to pipe organs, concert drums, string basses. The adjustable "Video Mode" kicks up the midbass as much as you want for "over-the-top" bass rumble on demand. So, you can go from speedy musical bass to loud rumbly bass with the touch of a remote control button or 12V DC trigger. The overall midrange/treble accuracy and bass transition are superior to any speaker I've heard under $10K so far. Detail/refinement is only outdone by a few speakers like some similarly priced JMlabs, Meridians, and a few others, but these speakers can't do what the NHTs can do in other areas of performance nor do they have the versatility or adjustability. JMlab Mezzo Utopias were clearly better in detail and refinement, but more than double the price. They trounced B&W's Nautilus 804s so easily and in virtually every way, I can't wait to get them in the same room as the Nautilus 801s. I'd rate the VT-3s (rounding off to whole numbers) 4 in detail/refinement and a 5 in all other areas. They clearly set a new benchmark for all around performance in the under $10K (if not under $15K). If you have a specific music taste and aren't interested in 5.1 anything, you can probably find a speaker you like even more than the VT-3s, but if you have a wide range of tastes and appreciate the 5.1 (6.1, 7.1, 10.2.....) future, I can't think of anything else like them, short of buying a whole Meridian system.
Now, as to the reason Dobber experienced problems. After much frustration trying to get the VT-3s to sound good with my B&K receiver (read - not bright, not thin, not disjointed), I called NHT and was informed that the VT-3 controller HAD TO BE placed between the preamp and amp sections via Pre-out/main-in or separates. Since almost none of the new receivers have this feature including my B&K and the Onkyo Dobber was forced to listen to (a mediocre choice under any conditions), I knew what I must do. Out with the AVR-202, in with the B&K Reference20/7250 combo. Aside from better amplification, inserting the controller between the preamplifier and amplifier solved all of my complaints and frustrations. Apparently, there is some form of phase correction and/or EQ qoing on in conjunction with the crossover networks that work together as a team. Lesson #1, always read the @#$%^& manual!
NHT also informed me that you could use the VR-3 (same speaker less subwoofer, bipole, remote, and advanced controller) with the NHT SubTwo Stereo if you have a receiver or can't afford VT-3s or separate components. This gives you almost the same sound as the VT-3s using the same drivers and design. If you like classical music and/or have separates and/or a bigscreen TV and/or have extra cash lying around, the VT-3s are worth the extra step up, but it's nice to know a less expensive, receiver-compatible option exists......
I have also spoken with Bill Bush who designed these speakers. He is hardly a rookie. He pretty much has designed all of the current NHT line while Ken Kantor was 'overseeing' in the distance. He's been with NHT for 10 years and was instrumental in the design of the 3.3 and most of the speakers that made NHT famous. Bill also believes in higher grade crossover parts and innovative solutions like defeatable bipole drivers and advance bass control that Ken Kantor didn't want to utilize. I think Bill Bush's leadership at NHT is a huge plus and Ken Kantor's departure allows Bill to build his dream speakers without being fettered by his boss - he now is the boss. Recoton has also seen fit to allow NHT to function on its own but Recoton does add some technology-sharing and money to the mix. I think if Recoton looks at the plight of Boston, Polk, Infinity, JBL etc, they will continue to keep NHT a specialty audio, independant speaker company (hopefully).
If you've never listened to an NHT, or for some reason didn't like NHTs the first time you heard them, go listen to the VT-3s (or other VT speakers) properly set up with any decent preamp and amp. They offer an unprecidented level of audiophile performance from NHT in a package so versatile, so practical, so powerful that it embarrasses all but the best and most expensive 'purist' audiophile speakers. If I were to make a comparison, the VT-3 is the Audi RS-4 (385 HP, twin turbo, Quattro, sports 'stationwagon') of the speaker world.
I'm rating them a 5 overall because I know of no serious competition for them in their category and 4 in value because you could save some cash with the VR-3/SubTwo Stereo combo.
I just wanted to mention an audition of these I did this week. First of all, let me say that I was extremely excited to hear these speakers in light of what I have read about similar models, and my overall fondness for the sound of other NHTs.
The store I heard them in had an Onkyo 100-ish wpc receiver driving them. In "Movie" mode the sound was nothing short of spectacular. The rear drivers made a tremendous difference in the diverseness of even the forward sound field. And while I was intiially skeptical of direct radiators in the rear, the VS-3s were excellent and perfectly matched with the system.
Now for the bad news. In "Music" mode the system was dismal. The lower end extension was virtually gone. The bass was muddled and washed out. Supposedly the mode change only deactivated the rear drivers, but I'm thinking that it must have changed the impedance or something because the difference was striking. Having said that, leaving them in video mode confused the heck out of pure stereo images. I was wholeheartedly disappointed with the sound on music.
Despite all of this I am interested in hearing, or reading other reviews of these speakers, since I refuse to believe that this is par for NHT. Additionally, I wonder if the wimpy receiver may not have ruined the experience for me. I know for sure that I had the receiver volume maxed out, and while the sound was still very clean, the speakers sounded as though something was sucking the life out of them. But if this is the case, why do they sound good with video sources in video mode? The store owner tells me that these are the first reference NHTs designed by "the former apprentice or new guy at NHT". I hope to hear them again somewhere else with a beefier amp providing the drive. If anyone knows where I can hear a pair driven w/ a Sunfire Sig. Cinema Grande or similar, I would love to hear them. Tough to justify based on what I've heard so far. Perhaps Recoton is intervening too much at NHT.....Where did the "old" designer go? My world just ain't right anymore!