Infinity Primus P162 loudspeaker Page 2

But well-recorded classical works were still the best, I believe, at putting the Primus P162 through its paces. Reproducing the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival performance of Kohjiba's Transmigration of the Soul (CD, Stereophile STPH007-2), the speakers "disappeared"—all of the musicians were presented on a wide, deep, airy soundstage with excellent specificity and realism. Carol Wincenc's flute was airy and articulate, and although the most extreme upper partials of her instrument were missing, the harmonic structures of all of the instruments sounded so right. The lower-register cello passages were natural, dynamic, and vibrant, with both the bow rosin and wood of the instrument shining through. The timpani passages were explosive if a bit too warm.

I had a similar experience with David Chesky's Violin Concerto, from his Area 31 collection (SACD, Chesky SACD 288, "Red Book" layer). The timpani in the opening passage bloomed naturally, and Tom Chiu's violin was searing and sweet. The upper partials of the instrument were there, but gently rolled away into the background, as they did in the celeste passages. Even in the most hairy passages, however, this recording never congested, despite the loud volumes I listened at. The Primus P162 did not sound like a bookshelf speaker.

The Infinity was also a very satisfying movie speaker for this enthusiast of two-channel home-theater sound. Most of my viewing doesn't lend itself to films with significant rear-channel information, which, more often than not, I find distracting. Second, I don't see the need of a center-channel speaker, provided the main L/R speakers have broad horizontal dispersion. Finally, I don't find that bass needs to be "managed" by a separate low-frequency channel. I've found that the home-theater experience can be very satisfying in a two-channel setup, provided the stereo pair of speakers can sufficiently reproduce convincing home-theater bass with a sense of high-level dynamic drama without compression. The Infinity met that standard.

Lately, I've been watching the first two seasons of the HBO series The Wire on DVD. I'm a big fan of the introductory theme music, which was rearranged after the first season. One of my home-theater acid tests is when I'm sufficiently impressed with the reproduction of that theme that I crank up the volume to the point where my wife asks me to turn it down. That occurred with every episode of The Wire I watched with the Primus P162s.

I still had on hand my review sample of the Infinity Primus 150 ($198), as well as the (original) Paradigm Atom v.3 ($189) and the Epos ELS 3 ($350). I compared them all with the Infinity Primus P162 ($298). (All speaker prices per pair.)

As expected, the familial similarities between the Primus 150 and P162 were strong—especially with solo-piano recordings, when the two were virtually indistinguishable. The P162's lower midrange was a bit richer than the Primus 150's, which had a somewhat lighter quality on male vocals. However, the newer, larger P162 had far superior bass extension and high-level dynamic capabilities—the Primus 150 got a bit more congested in high-level passages. Also, the Primus 150 had a bit of upper-bass emphasis; the midbass warmth of the P162 was somewhat lower in frequency.

The Paradigm Atom had an overall darker sound, with less inner detail, and its highs were not as extended as the P162's. High-level dynamics were also inferior, but the midrange was quite natural, and the speaker sounded very balanced.

The Epos ELS 3 was more detailed in the midrange than the Primus P162, with highs that were more extended, detailed, and delicate. However, the Infinity's bass went lower, and its high-level dynamics were better. The Epos's overall sound was lighter, the Infinity's richer.

Summing up
I'm sure you can find a $300/pair speaker that has some characteristics that you prefer to those of the Infinity Primus P162. And I know that there are more expensive speakers that significantly outperform the Infinity overall. But if you're looking for a speaker that will present detailed, uncolored, dynamic, and involving musical and home-theater experiences independent of the type of music or volume level, you can rest easy in knowing that the Primus P162 will satisfy all of your needs, and will likely give many years of musical satisfaction without you ever feeling the compulsion to upgrade. Infinity, you've done it again.

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