Although Aperion is a relative newcomer to the speaker market, their roots run deep in the audiophile and home theatre market. Aperion has been offering their speaker designs ‘direct to the public' over the Internet since 1999. Since their inception, Aperion has garnered a very good reputation with the press and the consuming public alike.
A few months back John Wanderscheid, VP of Sales and Marketing for Aperion Audio, contacted me to see if I'd interested in doing an article on the Aperion 633T speakers. The 633T's squarely reside on the very affordable end of the audio scale weighing in at just under $1000 per pair. A number of years ago I wrote a series of articles on sub-$1k speakers. Although I didn't get as deep into this category as I would have liked to, I was able to get a fair sense of this market segment. In turn, I jumped at the opportunity to give the Aperion's a listen. Not long after saying yes to Jon, two large boxes arrived at the old Faller homestead.
As I opened the well packed boxes, I found that the speakers were wrapped in crushed blue velvet with a golden drawstring. I thought to myself, this is kinda cool, it sort of reminded me of my dad opening a fresh bottle of 21 year old Chivas Royal Salute scotch back in the old days. Then to top it off, Aperion also included a pair of white gloves, a dusting cloth and an analog SPL meter. Sure, this might seem a little gimmicky but it made me feel that even though I may not have spent multi-thousands on a pair of speakers, that Aperion wanted me to thoroughly enjoy and get the most I could out of these little beauties.
And beauties they are. The 633T's came finished in a lovely cherry wood finish which is wrapped around all sides. On the back resides a single pair of gold plated binding posts. The 633T loudspeakers ship with spikes for carpeting and receiving footers in case you have a hardwood floor. The cabinet is made from 1-inch HDF (high density fiberboard). The cabinet is fairly heavily braced to reduce unwanted resonance's. A quick wrap of the knuckles confirms that the speakers are relatively ‘dead.'
The Aperion 633T is a standard two way in an EBS (extended bass shelf) design. On top is a nice, 1-inch soft dome tweeter and below is a pair of 6.5-inch long throw, shielded woofers. The woofers have recently been redesigned around a woven carbon fiber cone. The speakers tuning port is on the front of the speaker and hidden under the speaker grille. This will make back wall placement far less critical. Aperion claims to have developed a new crossover technology that helps to flatten the speakers impedance response as seen by the amplifier. Not having seen the schematics for the crossovers, I can't comment directly on its design benefits or drawbacks. I guess I'll have to just listen and make a judgment.
At first glance, I have to say that I'm completely taken with the 633T's good looks. The cherry finish and the craftsmanship are absolutely first rate. This is as good of finish as I've seen on any speaker offered, regardless of price. And let us not overlook the fact that Aperion Audio offers a 30 day ‘in home' trial for their speakers. Aperion is so confident you will keep the speakers, they've stuck their neck out to include shipping both directions for your ‘in home' trial. Then to top that, if you decide to keep them you have a 10 year, transferable warranty.
Setup, Placement And Listening
Over the next few weeks I thoroughly enjoyed having the Aperion's visit this system. They're voicing fit in quite nicely as my home brewed center channel sounds nearly identical to the 633T's. As time went on, I started paying closer and closer attention to the Aperion's. I started noticing how natural and clean they sounded when we were playing movies. When good music or music videos played, I couldn't help but turn it up thinking to myself that these inexpensive speakers sound really good.
This led me to start playing more and more music on my home theatre. Not only concert DVD's but also CD's, DVD-A's and SACD's, all of which I've seldom done before. I even went so far as to add a decent sounding CAL DAC to my HT system so I could listen to pure two channel music upstairs away from my reference system. Needless to say, after a few more weeks of thorough enjoyment it finally dawned on me that my home theatre system isn't supposed to sound this good, it's only supposed to make big crashes and booms. You know, the sound that Hollywood and Bose thinks we want to hear. Of course, all of that is complete nonsense. As I just proved to myself, a home theatre can be used to critically listen to two and five channel music.
What I was hearing from the 633T's was something you normally won't hear out of speakers costing just under $1000. The sound coming out of these little gems was relatively clean, pretty darned accurate and really deep. I found the Arcam to be a very nice match to the Aperion's. Nearly everything I played sounded quite nice. Knowing the sonic ‘issues' that exist in my home theatre (speakers too far apart, big screen TV in the center, etc.) I decided to move the Aperion's down to the far end of my listening room (40-foot long).
The first setup I tried was with my Korato KVP-20 tubed preamplifier and my modified pair of Radii KT-88, 100 watt monoblock amplifiers. Although the sounds were quite good (and you know how I love tubes), I thought some more current might be needed. At this point I opted for the Odyssey Audio Khartago amplifier and the Etesian passive pre. The Odyssey Khartago gives me a conservative 100wpc of very clean Bipolar solid state power and ample current to overcome the impedance leveling filters in the 633T's. As I had guessed, after the Odyssey gear warmed up and I started streaming music from my Bolder modified Squeezebox to the Aperion's, they really seemed to enjoy the reinforced current.
Starting at the highest octaves and moving down, I found the 633T's treble nicely refined. Never once did they show any of the showroom spit and sizzle of lesser speakers. Listening to Lucy Kaplanski's The Red Thread I found the highest octaves to be very smooth and non-fatiguing. Although the treble wasn't ‘hyper-detailed', I never find myself longing for a ‘brighter' speaker. Moving down to the critical midrange, the first thing I listened for was the crossover integration. After living with single driver speakers for a number of years, I've become extremely sensitive to driver mismatch and crossover ‘anomalies'. Listening to the 633T's for a number of weeks playing all kinds of music, I can say the hand off from the woofer to the tweeter is done very well. It is a near seamless transition.
When it comes to midrange clarity, if found the 633T's quite good for a speaker in its price point. I was a little concerned that the bass that these speakers produce might cover up some of the midrange detail but that wasn't the case at all. The midrange remained relatively pure with nearly all music I played. Though I did detect a bit of veiling, it wasn't what I would consider a major issue at all. I've heard far more expensive speakers that have sounded much less transparent than the 633T's in the midrange region. The big issue for me was that the driver and crossover didn't effect the timbre significantly.
Moving down to the bass regions, this is an area that the Aperion 633T's really began impress me. Up until this point, I've been listening primarily to popular music, rock, folk, chill, and the occasional hip hop. Each of these genres sounded quite good on the 633T's. The bass produced by these speakers was more than plentiful for aggressive music.
I had almost classified the Aperion's as ‘rock' speakers based upon the amount of bass they produced. Well, I was sure wrong with that assumption. I started streaming some YoYo Ma and Emmanuelle Ax playing Braham's concerto's for cello and piano. I found the 633T's reproduction of acoustic bass to be quite clean sounding. They lacked much of the low bass colorations usually found in EBS designs. Although Ma's cello was a bit full sounding, I (again) didn't find myself wanting for a more ‘defined' speaker. The Aperion's allowed me to enjoy the music and let me forget about the endless pursuit of high fidelity.
As I moved onto something slightly different in the classical genre, I decided to pop in the RCA Red Seal of Pachebel's Canon performed by Jean-Francois Paillard Chamber Orchestra. The opening notes from Adagio (Albinoni - Arr.- Giazotto) on the church organ really showed off the 633T's bass reproduction. The bass was deep and surprisingly firm. In room (40 foot by 15 foot) these speakers we hitting the high 20's to low 30's reasonably flat. That's pretty darned impressive out of a pair of 6.5-inch woofers.
When it comes to imaging, the 633T's do a stellar job. With their narrow front baffle, they effectively disappeared in my room. The soundstage was nice and deep when properly placed away from the back wall. The stage that was projected was well on par with most other speakers and extended three to four feet outside of speaker cabinets. Placement of the musicians on the virtual stage was also quite good without any major sonic faux pa's.
In The End
When it comes to construction and appearance, the 633T's would definitely landed near the top of the list. The finish on these speakers is spectacular. Couple that with the 1-inch HDF cabinet and you've got a speaker that should last a lifetime. The best part of what I found living with the 633T's was that it let me bring great sounding music back to my main living space. Accurate sounding music has been missing from my living room for almost ten years now since I moved my reference listening system into my basement.
If you are seriously considering a pair of speakers that are truly audiophile quality, you should take Aperion up on their very generous, no risk in home trial offer. Lets face it, in the audiophile world, there isn't a ton of really good gear to pick from in the $1000 price range, especially when it comes to floor standing speakers.
If you are an audiophile on a budget, looking for the biggest bang for the buck possible, you really need to consider the Aperion 633T's for your system. Though not perfect, at the extremely affordable entry price of $1000, you likely won't find much better in a full range speaker.
Its always fun finding great sounding, affordable gear. Highly recommended!
Drivers: 1-inch soft dome tweeter and two 6.5-inch long throw midrange/woofers.
Frequency Response: 38Hz to 20kHz
Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms
Enclosure Type: Front Ported
Dimensions: 41.5 x 10.15 x 18.15 (HxWxD in inches)
Weight: 70 lbs. each
Warranty: 10 Years
Cabinet Finishes: Cherry or Black
Price: $998 per pair