In these uncertain economic times, many audiophiles have been forced to become more frugal in their equipment choices. Moderation is the theme of the day and for some the option of having an audio system that surpasses the cost of a luxury vehicle is just not going to be in their cards. Many of them have taken the elevator to the ground floor, where reality reigns supreme; becoming "practical" audiophiles searching for good sound at an excellent value. Where oh where does one such individual go to achieve this demanding balance? One place to start is Aperion Audio, a company based in the good old USA that delivers high quality loudspeakers at very reasonable prices.
The business model at Aperion Audio is fairly simple. The company has elected to cut out the traditional brick and mortar dealers in favor of selling directly to the public via their website. This allows them to pass on the savings to the consumer and put more money into the development of their products. To ease the minds of skeptical audio enthusiasts, Aperion Audio offers free shipping, a 30-day in-home money back trial and a website filled with useful information. In addition to all this, the company gives its customers excellent service and advice over the telephone. Their products are designed in Portland, Oregon and are manufactured in Asia, something that many loudspeakers companies have done to stay competitive. This is a "dream come true" for the practical audiophile searching for a great deal while getting the added bonus of trying a pair of loudspeakers in their home knowing that they can return them if not completely satisfied.
Into The Sonic Dungeon
Positioning the Verus Grand Towers was a very simple task and after working with them for a while, I found that the best place to locate them in my smallish listening room was to have them about 4 feet from the back wall, 3 feet from the side walls and about 12 feet apart. My listening position was 12 feet from the loudspeakers where I settled on a 15% toe in. My first impression upon listening to the Towers was that they exhibited a large sweet spot and sounded full and accurate along all points within my chosen listening position.
I have very eclectic tastes in music that include classical, jazz, world and contemporary music. For me, it is extremely important that the equipment I use meets the demands of these diverse genres. It was Carlos Santana who started off my listening adventure with Aperion’s loudspeakers with a track from his CD Milagro. In "Agua Que Va Caer" there are several different percussion instruments along with piano, drumset, bass and of course Santana's electric guitar. With the Grand Towers, the percussion instruments were clean and crisp with each instrument clearly represented. The imaging that the Towers offered of the whole band was dead on, creating believability and an honest reproduction of the attack and resonance of each instrument. I found this same strong imaging effect when I changed to Miles Davis and the LP Basic Miles. On the cut "Round Midnight", the sound of Davis' trumpet was clear and refined with the loudspeakers realistically conveying the unique timbre of his muted trumpet. The hi-hat shimmered with every strike of the cymbals while the warm breathy tone of Coltrane's sax was beautifully portrayed. In Hell Freezes Over, a live recording by the Eagles that features a mixture of percussion, acoustic instruments and electric guitar; the Verus Grand Towers turned in a very solid performance on the track "Hotel California". The bass was defined and strong with lots of slam, but was never muddy or overbearing. The high frequencies were crisp and flowed smoothly into the midrange making the Grand Towers slightly warmer in the middle, something that this listener views as a positive attribute.
Much credit for the smooth sound in the midrange must be given to Aperion’s proprietary tweeter that is designed to permit the use of lower crossover frequencies to unburden the midrange cones above 1.8 kHz. Designed by Ken Humphreys, the new tweeter is called the Axially Stabilized Radiator and basically pins the diaphragm’s center in a plane above the voice coil to axially stabilize the driver, which effectively allows it to handle frequencies an octave lower than traditional tweeters. To my ears, this is an excellent solution that helps to provide these loudspeakers with a smoother transition from the midrange to higher frequencies.
As impressive as the Verus Grand Towers were in most areas, they really stood out with their ability to create a truly impressive soundstage that fully and effortlessly envelops the listener in a blanket of warm sound. A few years ago, guitarist Brent Rowan released an intimate solo recording featuring original compositions played on his hand crafted Dillon guitar called Bare Essentials. This is a truly revealing recording…just a man and his guitar. The Grand Towers presented a believable image of this artist sitting in front of me with his instrument playing for my ears only. I was able to hear all the notes and overtones from his strings (which was truly a pleasure) but more importantly, I experienced the deep silences that balanced each note from his guitar. After this fantastic experience, I moved to one of my favorite recordings to close out my evaluation period with the Verus Grand Towers.
Many of my friends and colleagues have given me the label of opera aficionado. While I do not quite believe that this moniker really suits me, I do enjoy going to the opera and listening to good operatic recordings. One of my favorite recordings from the opera world is the 1960 Rome Opera recording of Turandot featuring Birgit Nilsson in the title role and Jussi Bjoerling as Calaf. I challenged the Grand Towers to a test of frightening proportions; to tame and bring to life the powerful voices of Nilsson and Bjoerling, quite like taming Turandot herself. This proved to be a good contest where the Verus Grand Towers were given the opportunity to shine. When I played the Aria "In questa Reggia", the power and drilling focus of Nilsson’s unique voice was ever present and one could even hear her move from one end of the stage to the other as Turandot approaches Calaf with her fateful line of questioning. The Verus Grand Towers effortless conveyed the drama, brilliance and fullness of Bjoerling’s tenor voice in Calaf’s aria "Nessun dorma", one of the most recognizable pieces in the operatic repertoire. These loudspeakers absolutely shined with everything else that was thrown at them and I must say that I am very impressed with their performance especially for a pair of loudspeakers at their affordable price point.