Aperion Audio Intimus 632-LR
Loudspeakers and Intimus S-10 Subwoofer
Aperion Audio began in 1998, when Winthrop Jeanfreau needed
a new speaker system. After shopping around, he realized that he could build better
speakers for much less than hed be able to buy them at a retail store. Not only
that, he thought he could also (given some judicious marketing) sell them to the public.
By cutting out the middle man and selling direct to consumers, Jeanfreau believes he can
offer speakers competitive with models that cost a lot more when sold at traditional
One advantage of such stores, of course, is their ability
to demonstrate speakers to customers before purchase. To compete with this, Aperion offers
a 30-day in-home audition. If youre unhappy with the speakers for any reason within
30 days of their arrival, you can send them back for a full refund -- and unlike most
online dealers, Aperion pays the return shipping. This policy offers the customer
something that even most bricks-and-mortar retailers dont: the option of trying out
Aperion products in the place that matters most -- the home.
Aperions website is aimed at helping people put
together multichannel home-theater systems, but theres no reason to think the
companys speakers cant be used in a two-channel, music-only system. For this
review, I was sent two Aperion Intimus 632-LR bookshelf speakers ($299 USD each) and an
Intimus S-10 subwoofer ($499).
While theyre some of the least-expensive speakers
Ive reviewed, the Aperion Intimus 632-LRs arrived in some of the most luxurious
packaging Ive seen: plush, crushed-velvet, satin-lined bags that, if nothing else,
indicate the pride Aperion has in its products. The luxury feel is continued in the
speakers themselves, in real-wood veneers that ensure that Aperions speakers look
much more expensive than they are. The same styling is found on the Intimus S-10
subwoofer. Im sure the style-conscious -- or those with style-conscious partners --
will find that the Aperions meet their décor needs.
The 632-LR measures 15" high by 7.88" wide by
12.75" deep and weighs 26 pounds. From its size alone, I didnt expect the
speaker to weigh quite so much, but its made with 1"-thick high-density
fiberboard (HDF) -- not the less expensive, more common medium-density fiberboard -- to
help eliminate cabinet resonances. My review samples were finished in a cherrywood veneer
that I liked quite a bit, but Ive seen Aperions high-gloss black lacquer at
hi-fi shows, and its equally attractive. Aperion claims a sensitivity of 86dB with a
nominal impedance of 8 ohms and a frequency response of 46Hz-20kHz, +/-3dB.
The 632-LR has a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a
custom-designed 6.5" woofer, and uses Aperions HD-X3 impedance-leveling
crossover technology. For full details on this technology, you can read the white paper on
Aperions website, www.aperionaudio.com,
but the important point for the end user is that it makes the speaker more efficient. This
means its easier to drive, more forgiving of inexpensive electronics, and reportedly
results in a fuller, more natural sound. The speaker has a port on the rear, along with
five-way binding posts.
The 632-LR needs to be placed on stands, and Aperion offers
a couple of options: the Studio Tech stand ($99 each) and the B-Tech BT77 wall mount ($33
each). Buyers could easily find other alternatives, but it would be easier to order stands
or mounts right along with the speakers, all direct from Aperion.
The Intimus S-10 subwoofer measures 17.5" high by
13.25" wide by 19" deep and weighs 56 pounds. It has a 10" PVA-damped
driver, an amplifier rated at 200W, and a rated frequency response of 25-160Hz. Like the
Intimus 632-LR, the S-10 is made of 1"-thick HDF. The S-10s asymmetrical
internal bracing prevents standing waves, which can affect the sound, and it comes with
brass floor spikes to couple it to the floor and (hopefully) produce tighter bass. Footers
are also included so that those of us with hardwood floors can use the spikes without
damaging the wood.
All of the S-10s controls are on the rear panel. At
the right top is the On/Auto/Off power switch. The Auto setting kicks the subwoofer into
gear only when it receives a signal. Next to the power switch are line-level inputs and
outputs on RCA jacks. The line out lets you daisy-chain multiple S-10s, if youre a
real bass freak. One of the line-level inputs is designated the Subwoofer input, if
youre using it with a home-theater receiver. Under the power switch and RCA jacks
are, from left to right, three identical knobs: Phase, Crossover, and Level. You can
choose between 0 and 180 degrees with the Phase knob, adjust the Crossover from 40Hz to
160Hz, and, with a little patience, set the Level to blend seamlessly with your speakers.
Below these are speaker-level inputs and outputs, if you choose to run your speaker cables
from your amp, through the sub, and on to the speakers. Some integrated amps that
Ive had here have a dedicated subwoofer output, but many still do not. If not, you
may have to use these binding posts, which are plastic-covered five-ways that look to be
of acceptable quality. Finally, on the bottom, is a receptacle for the supplied power
The 632-LR and S-10 come with a ten-year warranty, which
should relax even the most nervous buyer. They also come with a one-year trade-in policy
that allows customers to replace them with more expensive Aperion models and receive a
credit of the full purchase prices toward the higher models.
I used the Intimus 632-LR and S-10 in a system that
included a B&K AVR307 home-theater receiver and a Rotel RCD-1070 CD player. The
interconnects were Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval, the speaker cables Kimber 4PR.
As I often do, I began my auditioning with the Great Jazz
Trios Someday My Prince Will Come [CD, Eighty-Eights/Columbia CK 92819]. The
fantastic playing of Hank Jones, Elvin Jones, and Richard Davis, and the superb sound
achieved by the recording engineers, make this album one of my desert-island discs. The
Intimus 632-LR and S-10 produced a big, punchy sound that had no trouble convincing me
that the three musicians were in my room. During "Softly as in a Morning
Sunrise," I had no doubt that the piano was life-size, and the projection of
soundstage depth seemed much better than I had a right to expect. The Intimus S-10 played
deep and produced very musical bass lines. Cheap subwoofers sometimes suffer from being
boomy, and sometimes seem to offer only one-note bass. Neither was true of the Intimus
To give the Intimus system an orchestral workout, I put on
the soundtrack to Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith [CD, Sony Classical
SK 94220]. During "Battle of the Heroes," the Intimuses were able to
differentiate all of the instruments and didnt at any time sound congested. Early in
the track, in a driving violin line, it was easy to distinguish individual violins from
one another. Hearing the Aperions reproduce this soundtrack recording made me want to hear
a complete Aperion home-theater system. I think their upbeat, lively sound would do a
fantastic job with action movies.
I hadnt listened to Rob Zombies Hellbilly
Deluxe [CD, Geffen GEFD-25212] in some time, but after listening to the Aperions for a
few days I thought it was time to hear how well they could rock. They rocked very well
indeed. The electric guitars on such songs as "Dragula" and "Living Dead
Girl" were crunchy and loud, and the drums had real snap. If I listened to more rock
music, the Aperions might never leave my listening room.
While hunting for the Rob Zombie disc, I came across
Trickys Vulnerable [CD, Sanctuary 06076-84618-2] and decided to give it a
listen, too. Trickys interesting covers of XTCs "Dear God" and the
Cures "The Lovecats" both feature whispered vocals. The Aperions did a
good job of keeping these clear and distinct from the louder instruments making up the
While listening to Tricky, I realized that the Intimus S-10
had been left on during my listening sessions. I wanted to hear the 632-LRs on their own,
so I turned the sub off, and was impressed by the bass the speakers were able to generate
all by themselves. The Rob Zombie and Tricky CDs are bass-heavy, but I had no problem
enjoying them without the S-10. In fact, the 632-LRs sounded so good that Id
recommend trying the speakers on their own first. You may just find that, in a two-channel
application, there is no need for the subwoofer.
I compared the Aperion Audio system with one from Axiom
Audio, another firm that sells direct via the Internet. Still using my B&K and Rotel
electronics, I replaced the Aperions with a pair of Axiom M22 bookshelf speakers
($460/pair) and an Axiom EP175 subwoofer ($550). Were I to judge speakers by their
finishes, the Aperions would have won hands down: their cherrywood finish was easily more
attractive than the Axioms vinyl finish.
Moving beyond physical beauty, I found that both speakers
offered good value for the money but offered very different sonic pictures. The Aperions
had a forward, attention-grabbing sound, while the Axioms were more laid-back and smooth.
This difference was easy to hear playing the Great Jazz Trios rendition of Duke
Ellingtons "Caravan." When I played it through the Aperions, I got the
impression that I was but a few feet from drummer Elvin Jones. Through the Axioms, I was
noticeably more removed from the musicians. Better or worse? To me, they just sounded different.
On Rob Zombies "Dragula," I preferred the
Aperions up-front and slightly bright sound to the Axioms more relaxed
presentation. But I preferred the Axioms on classical fare such as Arvo Pärts Orient
& Occident [CD, ECM New Series 1795]. The Aperions said "Get up and
dance," the Axioms "sit down and study the music." But again, this seemed
more an issue of preference than of absolute better or worse.
I always find it difficult to compare subwoofers,
especially if both subs to be compared are doing their job well. Maybe Im just not
that much of a bass-head, but I found it hard to declare a preference between the Aperion
and Axiom subs. One advantage of the Aperion S-10 is its On/Auto/Off switch. The Axiom
EP175 has only Auto/Off. I sometimes find that a sub set to Auto fails to kick in when I
expect it to.
Whenever Im in one of the big-box electronics stores,
I marvel at how beat-up the speakers look, how poorly theyre set up, and how
uninterested the staff is in helping the customers. Aperion conquers these problems by
sending brand-new speakers right to your home and offering great customer service, both
online and over the phone. The Aperion 632-LRs sound was clear, uncongested, and
lively, and the S-10 subwoofer worked admirably to provide nice, deep bass and fill out
the sonic picture painted by the main speakers. And Ive seen far more expensive
speakers that look much worse than the Aperion Intimuses, which can be displayed with
If I were shopping in their price range, I wouldnt
want to pass up auditioning the Aperion Intimus speakers. If you listen exclusively to
rock, electronica, or hip-hop, they seem especially well-suited for you. You wont be
able to do head-to-head comparisons as you might at a dealers showroom, but you will
be able to hear them in your home for weeks before you need to make a firm decision. Like
Axiom Audio and HeadRoom, Aperion Audio has helped make the Internet a good place for
audiophiles to shop.
Prices of equipment reviewed