NHT 2.9 loudspeaker Page 3
The next step in the evolution of the NHT 2.9/3.3 could well be versions with onboard woofer power, a step NHT has already taken with a new home-theater system based on design ideas from the 2.9/3.3 duo. Powered "subwoofers" built into full-range loudspeakers is now a hot design trend, and offers a lot of advantages, not least the ability to tailor the woofer response and install bass limiting to prevent overloading.
The latter is particularly important if the speaker is to see double duty by being used full-range in a home theater. I didn't use the 2.9 in this way, but my experience suggests that although its bass extension is more than adequate for the demands of music, the challenge of the low-frequency effects track on many Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks demands either some sort of bass-overload protection (which a dedicated subwoofer amplifier can provide) or a subwoofer system designed to hold up under severe stress. But if your room is of moderate size, your taste in films subdued, and/or your preferred listening levels reasonable, the NHT 2.9 might do fine in such a dual-function system. (FYI: NHT has recently begun building a new center-channel loudspeaker designed to closely match the 2.9 and 3.3: the $850 AudioCenter-2.)
Great loudspeakers are not easy to improve on, and in many respects the NHT 3.3 is a great loudspeaker. Too moderate in price compared with its clear sonic competition to generate a lot of high-end buzz, it nevertheless has remained a strong presence in the High End since its introduction, in 1993. The NHT 2.9 is not as much of a groundbreaker, but for a lot less money—and in a considerably smaller cabinet—you can get 80% of the performance of NHT's flagship. I call that a very good deal.