Boston Acoustics 525V Centre Speaker
Boston Acoustics' top center-channel model is in the conventional horizontal mold, but instead of the usual dual woofers it has a single woofer and a similarly sized passive radiator flanking a small, wide-dispersion dome tweeter. (The tweeter is the same one used in the company's HD5 minispeaker, and the woofers are very similar except that the HD5 is an acoustic-suspension system.) The idea is to prevent the off-axis response irregularities that can occur when the outputs of two or more drivers covering the same frequency range interfere with each other. Boston Acoustics also says that the Model 525v was designed and balanced in position on top of a large-screen direct-view TV, to account for the effect of the acoustically reflective video screen on its output.
The 525v's cabinet is simple and unadorned, with a black woodgrain vinyl finish and a black knit grille plus a single "style" element: the distinctively beveled corners found on all the company's HD series loudspeakers. The package is more than usually compact and quite attractive.
The 525v's sonic performance was exemplary in almost every respect. Tonal balance was natural, open, and detailed, with highly articulated top octaves; it matched my left/right pair very well, though with a touch less precision in the highest-treble sounds. The midrange was open and transparent, perhaps even a touch prominent in its upper reaches-not necessarily bad for a center-channel speaker. The bottom end (to about 100 Hz) was solid and defined, without the artificial upper-middle bass hump that many small speakers use to give the impression of better bass response than they really have.
The 525v handled high input power very well, producing no untoward noises with midrange inputs of 100 watts or more. Intense low frequencies (approaching 200 watts peak) did cause audible woofer distress, so using a subwoofer or Dolby Pro Logic's Normal center mode, which sends deep center-channel bass to the left and right front speakers, is probably a good idea. The speaker's radiation pattern was unusually even, with no serious change in midrange timbre until I moved beyond about 30 degrees off-axis-equivalent to sitting on the end of a 15-foot sofa in my setup. Lateral panning was smooth and well integrated.
All in all, the Boston Acoustics 525v is a very fine-sounding center speaker that should blend well with any but unusually dull-sounding main front speakers. Free of sibilance and chestiness, it's eminently suited to the task of center-channel reproduction in even ambitious home theater systems-a good value, too.