has been a major change in home entertainment systems with large
intrusive looking televisions being replaced with attractive and stylish
flat panels. Speaker designs have also adapted with newer models complementing the streamlined appearance of these displays. Phase Technology sent us their Teatro V-3.0 Soundbar, Teatro II surrounds and a FL-10 subwoofer for a complete 5.1 experience. The Teatro V-3.0 Soundbar speaker provides three front channels of audio in a single
enclosure with each channel having a single 5.25" VDT (Vapor Deposited Titanium) woofer and a 1" soft dome tweeter. The speaker cabinet measures 40-inches
wide, 7-inches high, and 4.5-inches deep allowing it to easily fit under most
displays that are wall mounted. The unit weighs only 25 pounds and come
with all the necessary hardware needed for installation. The mounting
system includes a two-piece mount that attaches to speaker and the wall allowing them to easily mate to one another
for a simple installation.
Spatial Field Expander
The V-3.0 Soundbar also includes a pair of Spatial Field Expander
(SFE) side drivers for the right and left channels that use Phase Technology's proprietary circuitry. The SFE circuitry is designed to
produce a wider soundstage more akin to separate speakers placed further apart from one another. The result is a wider soundstage that extends well beyond the physical size of the V-3.0 cabinet. The technology works surprisingly well.
Enhanced Voice Technology™
Phase Technology includes an EVT (Enhance Voice Technology) switch on the front of the V-3.0 Soundbar behind the cover that is designed to improve dialogue when watching movies or TV programs. The preferred setting when listening to music is OFF since this gives a nice balanced response. However, dialogue can be vastly improved when the switch is ON by boosting
midrange frequencies associated with human speech. We found that subtle and normal dialogue was more audible when the switch was engaged without sounding over exaggerated or artificial when watching movies.
The speaker terminals on the back of the soundbar are located towards the right back panel. The terminals are gold plated and are designed to handle standard wire as well as banana plugs and spade lugs. One thing to keep in mind is if the speaker cabinet is mounted on the wall, there is little room for large plugs since they will extend out beyond the back surface and hit the wall. In most cases standard wire will work best.
Teatro Surround II
The Teatro Surround II bi-polar speakers feature a 5.25-inch polypropylene woofer with a butyl rubber surround and two 1" soft dome tweeters angled forward and backwards. The speaker is designed to be placed on the side walls with the bass driver facing the listener in 5.1 systems. The Surround II speakers can also be placed behind the listener on the left and right for back surround channels in 7.1 systems.
The cabinet comes in a white textured finish that matches well with modern decor. The white speaker cover take most of the front area and matches well with the cabinet. The speakers have integrated wall mounts on the rear panel making it easy to install. The speakers measure 11-inches wide, 9.25-inches tall, and 5-inches deep and weigh a modest 10 pounds.
The binding posts on the rear of the Teatro Surround II speakers can accept stripped wire as well as banana plugs. However, due to tight spacing issue similar to the V-3.0 speaker, it is recommended that standard wire be used to prevent a problem with protruding banana plugs on the back. The quality of these speaker terminals are not as nice as the ones found on the V-3.0 soundbar.
The photo here shows the label properly oriented, but the speaker is actually installed upside down with the tweeters near the bottom of the cabinet as shown in the above photo. This keeps the tweeters closer to the listener's head minimizing the off-axis angle, which tends to roll-off high frequencies. To mount the speaker, install a screw securely to the wall with the head large enough to slip into the larger opening on the mount. The screw head will slide down and lock into place preventing the speaker from falling. It is important to make sure the speaker is secure to prevent injury especially here in California where earthquakes are fairly common.
Using a 1/3 octave sweep on our Sencore SP295 Audio Analyzer, we
found typical peaks and valleys in the impedance spectrum of the V-3.0 Soundbar and the Teatro Surround II speakers. The V-3.0 soundbar is rated with a nominal impedance rating of 4 ohms. The SP295 measured a minimum impedance of 3.6 ohms at 315 Hz and a maximum impedance of 11 ohms at 50 Hz. The average impedance of the V-3.0 was about 6 ohms. All front three channels were similar. The exception was with the EVT switch ON, where the center channel measured almost a constant 4 ohms through much of the frequency spectrum. The Surround II speakers are rated as an 8 ohm speaker, but we found them to be more like a 4 ohm speaker based on our measurements. The Surround II exhibited a minimum impedance of 2.9 ohms at 6.3 kHz and 13.5 ohms at 125 Hz. The average impedance of the Surround II was 4.7 ohms. Since most moderately priced receivers have issues driving lower speaker impedances, it is surprising that these speakers are on the lower side. Fortunately, we have a receiver that is quite capable of driving low impedances, so we didn't have any issues with this.
The Power FL-10 subwoofer utilizes a proprietary
10-inch high-excursion bass driver with a larger butyl rubber surround material.
The combination of an oversized surround with an ultra long-throw, mineral-filled
polypropylene woofer mated with a downward-firing bass radiator delivers deep
bass response with high output. The
FL-10 driver is attached to a 3/4 to 1 MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) baffle mated
to the curved architectural cabinet designed to minimize cabinet colorations. The FL-10 subwoofer is powered by
an all-new 250 Watt servo-controlled amplifier that monitors and adjusts
output levels for dynamic and undistorted response. The cabinet of the FL-10 has a Black Rosewood Laminate with a contemporary style
with curved sides, making it much more attractive than many of the standard
cabinet designs. The cabinet sits 16 inches high, 12.5-inches wide and about 19-inches deep. The FL-10 weighs just under 27 pounds thanks to the high efficiency BASH switching amplifier.
The FL-10 subwoofer combines an active 10-inch front-firing long-throw woofer along with a 10-inch downward-firing passive radiator (shown in photo). Both drivers have the same appearance and probably use the same cone and surround material. The active/passive driver combination extends the bass frequencies of the FL-10 achieving an impressive bass response down to 26 Hertz. While this number alone might attract those looking at subwoofer specifications, it should be noted that the natural low frequency roll-off of passive radiator subwoofers is generally faster than sealed (acoustic suspension) enclosures.
The feet at the bottom of the FL-10 are 1-3/8-inches high allowing the passive radiator to move freely on a flat surface. If the subwoofer is placed on thick carpet, it might be wise to check if the carpet affects the sound of the subwoofer since it may dampen the passive driver or cause non-linear motion when played at high levels.
The FL-10 subwoofer supports both low-level line inputs as well as speaker level inputs.
The Crossover Frequency control determines the low-pass frequency
the subwoofer will reproduce. If the receiver has an LFE (Low Frequency
Effects) output, then the LFE input should be used, which bypasses the
crossover frequency control. The power switch (when on) automatically
activates the subwoofer when an audio signal is detected. It will go into
a standby state after approximately ten minutes of silence. The Phase switch can be used to compensate for phasing issues that affect
sound quality. In some cases this may require a trial and error test to determine the best setting. The Bass Level control is used to set the output level in conjunction with the level set by the connected receiver or preamplifier.
Phase Technology's Power FL Series subwoofers
have a Servo
Control feature that automatically protects the
subwoofer from damage which can be caused by excessive
amplifier power and/or distortion. The active servo control
system constantly monitors the incoming signal, providing listeners with the full dynamic
range of audio while protecting the subwoofer from potential damage.
Our A/V system, which consists of a Denon AVR-5308CI THX A/V receiver, had no difficulty driving this speaker system, which allowed us to
focus more on the speakers and less on the limitations of the A/V electronics. Unfortunately, some low-end receivers may have difficulty driving 4 ohm impedances, so it is important to use a quality set of electronics when considering this system. Our source material was played using an OPPO BDP-83 DVD/Blu-ray player through an HDMI interface.
Sonically, the Teatro V-3.0 performed well producing excellent definition with both audio and movie dialogue. The speaker system produces full range
sound when mated to the capable Power FL-10 subwoofer. Setting the crossover frequency to a reasonable 80 Hz produced the best results for us in our theater room without localizing the subwoofer. With minimal intrusion
into the room's space, the Teatro system performed very well. Smaller rooms will
get the most out of this system, while larger rooms might feel the need
for a slightly larger subwoofer such as the FL-12. When playing music at higher levels, the FL-10 had more difficulty controlling deep bass notes with less articulation. Output levels were quite good and for movie watching it provided the impact that home theater enthusiast will enjoy. Performance was actually much better than I expected from a system at this price point. In addition, the V-3.0 soundbar produces a nice wide soundstage for such a compact system.
There are several dts encoded CDs that have very impressive 5.1 audio for testing out multi-channel speaker systems. We started with Steely Dan's - Gaucho, playing the first two tracks (Babylon Sisters and Hey Nineteen) with excellent dynamics and a wide soundstage. Another favorite of ours is Boyz II Men - II, track 13 (Yesterday) where the band sings acapella style with each vocalist singing from a dedicated channel. This recording is good at revealing the capabilities of a high quality multi-channel system.
Phase Technology has designed and executed a system that not only sounds good, but does it without clashing with the decor of your entertainment room. The system is compact, yet when coupled with the FL-10 subwoofer, makes for a very satisfying 5.1 audio system. Some may want a bit more bass in rooms that are larger, so it would be wise to consider the FL-12 or similar.
Since the impedance of these speakers is somewhat demanding, choosing the right receiver will ultimately benefit the listening experience. The concern is some cheaper A/V receivers we have seen on the market may have difficulty driving these speakers especially at higher levels. Given the choice, I would look at lower power receivers capable of driving 4 ohm loads such as those offered by NAD Electronics, over higher power receivers that only support 8 ohms. Once combined with a good set of electronics, the Teatro system will deliver a great sonic experience.
The benefits of the Teatro V-3.0 soundbar is that it provides a convenient all-in-one speaker system that fits nicely under the flat panel display. The quality of the drivers used on the Teatro speaker system is largely responsible for the excellent sound. Moreover, the quality will likely last for a long time without worrying about surround material deteriorating over time often found on lesser quality speaker products. If you have been looking for a great sounding surround system that doesn't intrude in your room, the Teatro system is designed to fulfill that goal all while being affordable.