This is Energy's satellite speaker 5.1 system. Don't be fooled by their apparently small size, and home-theater-in-a-box appearance. These speakers are indeed sold in a box, but produce sound unparalleled by any other speaker this size on this budget.
At only $600 MSRP (and usually found online for cheaper- around $400), these speakers pack quite a punch. Consisting of four identical satellite speakers, a slightly different center channel, and an 8" down-firing subwoofer, you'll get great sound for any material you throw at it. When playing your favorite rock concert, this system sends you onto the stage with perfectly coordinated speakers and produces surprisingly rich bass for such a small system. Movies also played quite well, as vocals came clearly from the center and weren't dwarfed by the satellites.
This package would perform best in a small to medium size room. Also, playing in full 5.1 is what this system does best. The strength clearly lies in using them all at once, as putting them in stereo mode produces weaker sound. When played in stereo, movies especially have to be played at very high volumes to understand dialogue.
The center channel of this set features a 3/4" hyperbolic aluminum dome tweeter and a single 3" poly-titanium woofer. Sharing the appearance of the rest of the set, the piano gloss black cabinet looks sleek and elegant with the shiny silver woofer and tweeter. Dual exhaust ports on either side of the tweeter and woofer allow for easier placement options, allowing wall mounting, and placement on shallow shelves or mantles. (If exhaust ports are on the rear it leaves fewer placement options, as bass output causes sound to boom and echo during playback.)
Each of the four identical satellite speakers are very compact (for an even more compact choice, see Energy RC-Micro 5.1- we do not have a review for that system at this time). They, like the Take Classic center channel, each have a 3/4" hyperbolic aluminum dome tweeter, and a 3" poly-titanium woofer. Again, these have the same piano gloss black sheen, which we found provides an expensive look, but can also be a downside if they are handled often or not dusted frequently enough. Smudges, fingerprints and dust can be collected over time, so these speakers may at times be more of a chore to be kept clean versus a wood grain cabinet. One negative side to these satellite speakers is the fact that they are rear ported, which makes having them flush against the wall in a wall-mount situation, not very attractive. Here at Tempest Audio, we had them hung directly on the wall at first, and although they had great sound, sounded better sitting indepedent of the wall.
The subwoofer uses the patented Ribbed Elliptical Surround technology that reduces distortion during high and low bass output. When using another sub without this feature, we noticed the difference, although not extremely drastic, but a nice touch especially when listening to rock or hip-hop with a substantial amount of bass.
A huge advantage to having these speakers compared to larger bookshelf speakers is the fact that they have such a large yet clear output of sound, yet are small, and very lightweight. (When we tested them on the wall, they hung on just a standard push pin and didn't require a stud or any extra mounting, although we do not recommend this- just to demonstrate how light these speakers really are.) They can easily be wall-mounted, and fit nicely on any shelf or end table.
We put this speaker package through 3 different uses:
Music: When playing music in 5.1 surround, these speakers played beautifully. The sound was very well balanced, and not overbearing. Although they played nicely with every popular genre, they did their best in classical, country, and soft rock. If playing a rock song, slightly added use of the subwoofer was needed to balance out the bass for the song. With all music, the high notes rang through quite clearly and the subwoofer did a great job pumping out very low-distortion bass to compliment the speakers nicely.
Movies: If you watch lots of movies in a small gameroom or bedroom, these speakers will reproduce speech, and sound effects with an accuracy you won't get anywhere else at this price. They seem to be able to handle anything we have thrown at it: action, drama, sci-fi, and so on. When testing out some Energy tower speakers (the CF-30 and CF-70), we used the four satellite speakers as front-height, and rear-surround 7.1 speakers and they did great in adding another dimension of sound for movie watching. So whether you're watching a movie with this 5.1 setup, or combining this setup with larger speakers to make them a 7.1 system, they work great. We thought they might be "drowned out" by the larger speakers, but kept their own during our testing.
Games: Out of all material, video games seem to put 5.1 sound effects to their best use. Music and movies are still recorded in stereo and most are in 5.1, but any modern video game will be 5.1 standard. The point of the 5.1 system in video games is to make you, as a character in a game, feel like you are standing exactly where they are- to feel like you're on the court in a basketball game, or in the middle of a battlefield. We used 2kSports' NBA 2K11, Microsoft/Bungie's Halo: Reach, and Warner Bros. Games' Batman Arkham Asylum to do our testing for Games. We found that the system had great reproduction of placement for the action games (Halo: Reach and Batman Arkham Asylum), to the point where you could hear an enemy sneaking up behind you if the volume is loud enough. Yet during the basketball game, the bass was very boomy (probably crowd noise), and quite distracting. The Energy Take Classic 5.1 system played very well with each of these games in a small to mid-size room, and had no problem being loud enough to hear, but in a larger sized room, other speakers may need to be integrated to make sure they are powerful enough to push sound to the listening area.
The Energy Take Classic 5.1 system earned the CNET Editor's Choice Award in 2009, and has high reviews across the web.
Overall, these speakers are a great bargain, especially for those who have space issues, on a budget, or are finally ditching your HTIB (home theater in a box) and venturing into the world of finer speakers.
Subwoofer- 33Hz-150Hz +/- 3dB
Satellites and Center, 100 watts
Subwoofer, 200 watts
Recommended Amplifier Power: 20-100 watts RMS
Impedance: 8-ohm compatible
We hope you enjoyed this review, and if you found it helpful, or have any questions we didn't cover, please e-mail us at TempestAudioAZ@gmail.com with Energy Take Classic 5.1 in the subject line.