Some would lead you to believe Aperion speakers are made with tender loving care in Oregon. At least the 422s are not. They're made and packaged in China. Second, mine came with no instructions of any kind. No warranty. No return instructions. No specs. No nothing. Third, while the cabinet workmanship is fine, the grills on mine are somewhat sloppy and the glued on Aperion badges are crooked on both speakers. The grills also have more thickness than most and sharp inside edges up against the drivers which will cause diffraction problems (rougher frequency response and uneven dispersion). The front plastic panel that integrates the woofer and tweeter is also a cheaply molded piece. With the exception of the nice gloss black "piano" finish, the workmanship is about what you'd expect from China. They do come in a velvet bag, but an instruction manual would have been far more useful.
My next beef is with Aperion's supposed patent-pending "HD-X 3" crossover technology. It's supposed to flatten out the impedance curve and the 422-LRs supposedly have this "unique technology". I'm an electrical engineer and was skeptical of Aperion's claims. Using very accurate lab equipment, I measured the 422's impedance curve. They have a BIG impedance rise at resonance and the impedance curve doesn't seem to be "flattened" at all? After a proper break-in, the system resonance was 122hz and the impedance was 30 ohms--roughly FOUR TIMES times their rated 8 ohms. For comparison, the similar NHT Super Zero (without any fancy impedance flattening technology) is only 19 ohms max at resonance. So much for HD-X 3! At least in the 422s, it's pure marketing BS.
A few more technical details... Aperion rates the frequency response as "100hz - 20khz" but they don't tell you within what range (i.e. +/- 3db, etc.). Using a close-mic technique to eliminate room interaction, The 422 is 3db down at 175hz, 6db down at 148hz and a whopping 12 db down at 130hz. They will get some "help" from the room if they're placed on a shelf, against a wall, etc. But if you were to put them on stands out in the room, that's close to the response you could expect. In summary, they have NO bass and are difficult to match to a subwoofer.
The woofer-tweeter crossover appears to be quite low for such a small speaker as the woofer starts rolling off before 2000hz. The overall response isn't terribly flat or smooth but I don't have an anechoic chamber so it's somewhat subject to the measurement conditions. I did, however, achieve a similarly rough response to what Sound & Vision recently measured (see their website for the complete lab data). Not surprisingly, they measure (and sound) worse with the poorly designed grills on.
The above low-frequency limits are to be expected given the 422's really small size and sealed enclosure. But they also mean a subwoofer crossover in the 150hz - 200hz range which creates a lot of problems. Many home theater receivers and/or subwoofers won't allow a crossover that high. And even if they do, such a high crossover frequency causes the subwoofer to be much more obvious and much less seamless. More likely, you'll have a big "hole" in the upper bass and lower midrange.
In a direct A/B comparison with the NHT Super Zero (the 422's sitting on top of them) they have very similar efficiency but the 422s sound notably thin--even with a 200hz crossover point. Male vocals, especially, take on a very lean almost hollow sound. The lower midrange of the NHT is far more accurate and closer to my reference speakers. The high-end, while similar in level/balance, is also not as smooth or detailed and the soundstage isn't as deep or natural as the NHT's. Finally, when pushed hard, the 422s get harsh and "edgy" sooner than the NHTs (i.e. the NHTs will play louder cleanly).
In a psuedo-blind A/B test (grill cloth concealing both speakers and me doing the switching), everyone preferred the NHTs on a wide variety of source material at a variety of volume levels. One commented, however, he would be happy with either.
In conclusion, if you have the room, speakers like the NHT SB1 or Paradigm Atoms are very similar in price to the Aperion 422 but sound significantly better. I don't know if Aperion's larger speakers might hold up better to the competition? I certainly like the direct sales model, but at least for the 422s, it doesn't really play out for being a good value. My 422s are going back to Aperion under their generous return policy.
These are impressive little speakers; both for their price and their size!
My first impression, as I pulled in the driveway thinking that UPS hadn't been to my house yet because I didn't see the boxes behind our little porch flower box, was 'damn! they came in those little boxes???' They were even smaller once I got them out of the packaging (obviously). The entire packaging is about the size of a 522, so you can imagine how small the 422 is. For me, the dimensions on the website just didn't convey to me how small these little guys are!
Well, let me tell you, these things ooze quality!!! The fit and finish is up to the usual Aperion par, but with such a small package it seems even higher somehow? The binding posts are high quality and the relative 'heft' of the speaker speaks to a higher build quality than one usually associates for a speaker of this size and price. It makes you wonder 'how can they package all this into one speaker, sell it for only $100 and come out making any $$$?'
After approx. 100 hours of 'burn-in' on the Sharp SD-EX111 (the 422's intended mate), I pulled them into my reference system for a quick listen. My reference system consists of a Cairn Fog CDP, PrimaLuna Prologue Two and Totem Arro's in a small 9x11 dedicated room. To give you an idea of how small the 422 is, it is almost identical in footprint to my Arro's, about 1" less in depth. While not on par with the Arro's (and why should they be, at 1/6th the price) they do DO a lot of things right! They image very well and the soundstaging is beleivable. They give up the final measures of tonality, weight and airiness. Next to the Arro's, the voices and shear 'realness' of instruments isn't quite there, but it's damn well closer than it should be for a $200 pair of monitors.
I listened to several other budget monitor choices before deciding to listen to the 422's. The highly regarded Athena AS-B1's are totally unlistenable IMO, as are many speakers in this price range. I could go on listing the differences between the 422's and what I am use to hearing in my listening room with the Arro's, but that would really be doing them an injustice as they sound DAMN FINE for the $$$.
These are finally destined for the inside cabinets of a Salamander Triple20 (which does help their bass response and heft BTW), and will be used for ambient background music while eating, drinking & entertaining and they more than fit the bill. While the 422's would noticiably desire more power than the SD-EX111 has to offer, the pairing is one I can live with. My next upgrade would be a seperate source and integrated, not the speakers!
The one beef, and maybe this is just because of my large fingers? but unless you are using bananas to connect, getting your fingers in there to tighten down the posts on bare wire or spades is a little cumbersome. Other than that, these speakers blow me away for the price. Anyone looking for a non-intrusive speaker, this is a contender! I am really amazed at what is brought to the table for $200! Great build quality, gorgeous finish and damn good sound for the price!
Great little HT system for the money. If you know aperion, the first impression that you get when you open the box is..."Wow!". I ordered a black piano finish. Nice solid bricks. Can't beat it for the money. BUT what's the use of talking about the shell if the sound sucks?
Sound...ahh the sound. At first I felt the sound was "good" and it was little flat, no character. As the speakers broke in (I didn't really break them as they suggested), oh man, these speakers started to sing. In HT applications, the center was good in reproducing the voices. The front (and identical surrounds) produced amazing sounds. Many times, I kept looking at the walls as I felt the sound was eminating from them.
Another plus for this system that I felt was the imaging in stereo music listening application. Surprisingly enough (albeit little bass presence w/o the sub), the front speakers does an excellent job for music listening. I listened to jazz, rock, and classic. It made me to get more CD's as I heard things that I've not heard before.
Included sub does a good job. My HT resides in the finished basement of our house. The room is about 12x14 and the ceiling is ~8 ft. This system is more than enough and the 8" sub is extremely loud. In fact, my sub is set between 3~4.
Bottom line: if you are in the market for an affordable, entry level type of HT, don't buy shiny plasticy things with zillion wattage that costs close to $1000. Instead, save a little more money, get Aperion 422 and a small receiver (I have a Denon 685 that works great), and you'll never look back. And if you don't like, just return it. Aperion pays for everything - yes, even the return postage.
I researched this product quite extensively before purchasing, unfortunately I did not research it with the the extremely helpful people at Aperion first. However, getting down to business, I thought given the reviews I had read, the size of the system, the price and the return policy I did not feel I could miss on this.
The order process was easy, the shipping was quick. The packaging and shipping material was top notch, the standard purple velvet bags were of course there, and a great "welcome to aperion" package was included.
I unboxed all the speakers, the construction of the speakers was first rate, the finish of the cabinets, the solid sound of the HDF all screamed great product.
I set the speakers up front to back, center and sub last. I let the system break in for about 48 hours of continuous lower level playing. The sound was the cleanest I had heard from any speaker of that size, even from speakers costing three times as much per set.
Two-channel music was very clean and the depth of the voices was great. The speakers seemed a little hungry requiring higher volume settings than my previous speakers.
Testing home theater in a medium size room is where the limits of this system are found. I started with Seabiscuit, the sound stage was clean, and as seemeless as any 5.1 system I have heard, the rears and center were the stars of the system in my opinion. The sub left a lot to be desired, even with just the prancing of the horses, I just did not feel as if I were in the movie.
I then thought I would test it out with a serious battery of action scenes, the straw that broke the subs back was the lobby scene from the Matrix. The sub could not keep up nor could it produce enough volume to keep me happy...maybe I am a bass head?
All in all, I would recommend Aperion to anyone. While I did end up sending this entire system back to Aperion, I will be making a purchase from Aperion in the future when my budget affords it. I love the idea of using the 422's in the rear, and when I expand to 7.1, I will probably use the 422's as the middle or surround channels. I will use the new 632's that they recently brought out as main speakers. They now have an entirely new crossover they are using going forward.
I would recommend this system to anyone starting out in HT, or needing something for a very small space. If you are experienced in HT or used to a lot of chest pounding bass with explosions in action scenes, this is not the system for you.