Energy V2.4 / V2.0C / V2.0R / S10.2 Surround System -
Chris Lewis, June, 2002
Energy's updated Veritas line lives up to its legacy
It was a question I hadn't considered until I stepped into the listening room on that gloomy Monday morning to greet my Canadian guests. Then it hit me like a slap shot to the forehead. Could I be the unbiased, emotionally unruffled reviewer that I know I am on this day, or was my bitterness simply too strong to give these visitors their fair shake? For you see, it was less than 24 hours earlier that one of the most important games in North American hockey history—the gold-medal final between the United States and Canada—had ended in utter disappointment for the Stars and Stripes. And now, these Canadian speakers were staring me right in the face—their phase plugs pointing at me in ridicule, their ports directing a sly, triumphant wink my way, and their cabinets standing a little taller and straighter after 50 years of Olympic-hockey frustration. My doubts quickly passed, though, as my foreign guests began expertly filling the room with the soothing sounds of the Mississippi delta and Virginia mountains, bringing an undeniable calm over me—even a hint of resignation. As much as I love hockey, it's their game, after all. If Canada starts beating us in football or baseball, I'll know the sports gods have really turned their backs on the good old U.S. of A.
Time to get serious, though. These Energy speakers are just
that—seriously designed and built, seriously priced, and serious about wanting to sound good. The grape-vine had almost nothing but positive things to say about the newly revamped Veritas line, but it was time for me to see for myself if these newcomers could fill the large footprint left by their namesakes. Thus, a V2.0C center channel, two V2.4 towers, two V2.0R surrounds, and two S10.2 subs made the trek south to our facility, and the audio games commenced.
The V2.4 ($3,500/pair) is a 46-inch-high by 8.75-inch-wide by 18.125-inch-deep floorstander that puts a 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter, a 2-inch aluminum-dome midrange, and three 6.5-inch composite woofers into play. Interestingly, the woofers' response is staggered (via Energy's Tapered Crossover System) to increase dispersion and reduce interference and phase issues between the woofers. While all three of the woofers extend down to 30 hertz, one tops off at 150 Hz, another at 300 Hz, and the third at 550 Hz. The midrange takes over from 550 Hz to 2 kilohertz, and the tweeter picks up from there—an ambitious range for a small-dome unit. The sturdy MDF cabinet is well braced, damped, and acoustically inert, with dual ports to the front and a single port to the rear. A pair of gold-plated, five-way binding posts allows for both biwiring and biamping. The V2.4 weighs in at 95 pounds, can accommodate floor spikes, and is available in a high-gloss-black finish, as well as the cherry veneer shown here.
Tapered crossovers are also at work with the V2.0C's ($750) dual 6.5-inch composite woofers. The higher-range unit reaches up to 1.8 kHz before it hands off to the 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter, which completes the horizontal D'Appolito array. The V2.0C's cabinet is also constructed of MDF and offers dual sets of binding posts. Its dimensions are 9.125 inches high by 23 wide by 13.125 deep, and it weighs 39 pounds. This model is also available in a high-gloss-black or cherry-veneer finish.
The intriguing V2.0R ($1,000/pair) makes use of a 6.5-inch composite woofer and a 1-inch aluminum-dome tweeter on its front face, plus two side-firing 3-inch drivers. The V2.0R is switchable between dipolar and bipolar radiation, plus it offers a unique (as far as I know) twist with a third position called "corner." As you might anticipate, Energy designed this setting for setups in which the surrounds have to be placed in or near corners. To compensate for corner placement, this setting deactivates the side driver firing toward the rear wall, which eliminates the anomalies that result from a driver firing in such close proximity to a boundary. The hook is a level control that adjusts the output of the side drivers relative to those on the front baffle. At its highest setting, the side drivers are 1 decibel lower than the front drivers, while, at the lowest setting, the side drivers are completely off. Essentially, this means that you can run the V2.0R as a monopole, as well. To me, this is highly important for multichannel-music playback and cements this surround as one of the more-innovative ones I've ever come across. The V2.0R's dimensions are 14.5 inches high by 13 wide by 7.125 deep, with a weight of 38 pounds.
The S10.2 subwoofer ($500) offers room-friendly dimensions of 15.75 inches high by 15.75 wide by 17.3 deep, and it houses a 10-inch driver with a 150-watt amplifier behind it. The rear panel offers two speaker-level inputs and outputs and two line-level RCA jacks: One is a standard input, and the other is a crossover-bypass input. The front panel sports gain control and a variable high-pass-filter control (50 to 100 Hz), as well as an equalizer switch with an audio (unengaged) position and a video (engaged) position that bumps up the sub's output for soundtracks. The solid, black-ash-finished cabinet is ported to the front, and the whole package weighs in at a mere 33.3 pounds. Your hernias will thank you.
If I had to sum up the V2.4's two-channel performance in a few words, they would be "clean," "quick," and "detailed." Those who prefer an aggressive, tension-building speaker should look elsewhere because the V2.4 is smooth, laid-back with a relatively neutral amplifier, and never pushy, even when you push it. The flip side is that a similarly mellow amp won't exploit everything the V2.4 can deliver, as I discovered when I mated the Veritas towers with the Sherbourn 5/1500A amplifier. The result was a tonal shift toward top-heaviness and an occasional lack of presence in the mid-to-upper-bass region. The higher-frequency emphasis is hardly a problem, though. The V2.4's midrange is simply outstanding, with dead-on voicing and a clear sense of control and resolution throughout its range. The top end was highly pleasing, as well. I heard none of what some have assessed as (and, after looking at the measurements once I finished this piece, one might expect) a bright tweeter. Rather, I heard a clean, crisp attack and natural decay that very closely matched my conception of a successful top end.
Eventually, I set out to bring the V2.4's midbass forward to match the rest of the presentation with a more-aggressive amp: the Parasound HCA-1205A. It worked, and I was instantly enjoying a more-balanced tonality from top to bottom, with no sacrifice in accuracy or control of the bass. The midrange remained the selling point, with no change whatsoever, and the top end continued to impress me, as well—although I did notice a bit more sibilance with the Parasound. Thus, the ideal amp for the V2.4 seems relatively obvious: punchy and strong through the bass, neutral in the mid-range (the amp should simply stay out of the way), and a smoother, more-mellow top end, especially if you have an inherently bright room. At no point would I call the tweeter's performance in our room bright, but a lively room and a more-aggressive top end from your amp will brighten up any speaker, especially one like the V2.4 that doesn't roll off the upper frequencies.
Music was no less impressive in 5.1 channels than it was in two. Even with the two S10.2 subs engaged, the bass remained mellow and controlled but clearly present (just how I like it). It was immediately clear that the V2.0C center was no less adept with voices than the V2.4s had been, a fact that boded well for soundtrack performance. The front stage was solid, deep, and well balanced. The V2.0R surrounds rounded out the presentation nicely, and it was with multichannel music, of course, that the ability to make them monopolar paid the highest dividends. With classical DVD-Audio and SACD material, I found myself engaging their dipolar characteristics more; however, with everything else, I shut off the side drivers, and the V2.0R behaved like any standard direct-radiator. My newly uncorked SACD copy of Junior Wells' Come on in This House demanded more-pinpoint accuracy and localization from the rears, and it sounded outstanding here. It's obvious that music was not an afterthought in the design of the V2.0R.
I've yet to find a speaker system that does well with music but craps out with movies (although the opposite can often be true), and this system is no exception. As I suspected from the 5.1-channel-music demo, the V2.0C is top-notch with dialogue, as well. There were hints of chestiness at times, but it resisted the hollowness and boxiness that are endemic to smaller centers, which goes a long way in my book. If you require earth-shattering bass to get your kicks, you may want to consider one of Energy's larger subs. You will never get tons of raw SPL from a 10-inch/150-watt sub, especially in a deader room like ours, but you will get sane levels of LFE output coupled with a high degree of accuracy and tonality. The dual-S10.2 setup effectively balanced the room and created an even low-frequency dispersion. Expectedly, I had the V2.0Rs' side drivers cranked up, with a dipolar radiation engaged, and they did nothing to change my opinion that these are among the best-performing—and certainly most versatile—surrounds I've listened to. They made an ever-present contribution without calling unnecessary attention to themselves, and they did an admirable job of creating a large, enveloping ambient soundfield with everything I put through them. The constant din of traveling and exploding projectiles from Saving Private Ryan was all too real, as were the abundant ghostly activities of The Haunting—especially the whipping cables of chapter 19, which unveiled this system's virtually gap-free nature throughout.
For a system that costs $6,250, you should always expect top-shelf performance, but you certainly don't always get it. It's clear to me, though, that those expectations are met here and that this new breed of Veritas speakers will do nothing to diminish the impressive legacy left by their predecessors. Both music and movie performance are clearly a cut above, and the versatility of the V2.0R surrounds gives you a significant advantage in wading your way through the ever-deepening pool of music and soundtrack formats.
Sure, I thought about roughing these speakers up a bit when I first entered the room—maybe giving them a quick face wash and seeing if I couldn't get them to drop the gloves. But, like a good shot or two of Crown Royal, they mellowed me right out and quickly won me over with their cleanliness, accuracy, warmth, dynamics, and solid tonal character from top to bottom. Maybe those on the Olympic-hockey team aren't the only Canadians that should be sporting a gold medal these days.
• Top-shelf performance with movies and music
• Highly versatile surround speaker
• Lightweight, easy-to-place subwoofer