NHT Classic Absolute Tower loudspeaker Page 3

Reflecting again on Byrne's comment that the Absolute Tower was designed to be primarily a home-theater speaker, I cranked up the pilot episode of Lost (Blu-ray, ABC 100834). In the dramatic plane-crash sequences, all of the thundering effects were delivered without compression or distortion—again, I never felt the need for a subwoofer.

What finally put the entirety of the Absolute Tower's performance together for me was Tomiko Kohjiba's The Transmigration of the Soul, from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival's Festival (CD, Stereophile STPH007-2). I reveled in the detailed and delicate articulation of transients from these nine instruments and one soprano on a wide, deep soundstage; in the broad, linear dynamic envelope of the performance; and, finally, in a sense of drama that I normally associate with larger speakers.

I compared the Classic Absolute Tower ($999.90/pair) with NHT's own Classic Three ($798/pair), the Dynaudio Excite X12 ($1200/pair), and the Monitor Audio Silver RS6 ($1200/pair when last offered).

I felt that the Classic Three and Classic Absolute Tower had similar timbral characteristics, but the Tower seemed more detailed, less veiled, and with more extended highs. Although the Three's published specifications claim deeper bass extension than the Tower's, I felt that, with music, the two models were comparable in this regard, although the Three's bass was a bit warmer and a touch slower.

Dynaudio's Excite X12 had a slightly warmer bass than the NHT Absolute Tower, but also a more detailed and delicate midrange and silkier, more extended highs. I felt the Dynaudio had an airier, more coherent sound, and found it much easier to follow individual instruments through than the NHT Tower.

Finally, the Monitor Audio Silver RS6 also had more detailed and extended highs than the Absolute Tower, but the upper end of the audioband was a bit more crisp through the RS6, with more prominent sibilants. The Monitor also had the tightest, deepest, most dynamic bass response of all four speakers.

A reviewing colleague once wrote of a speaker, "This is a speaker you can take home to meet Mother." That description perfectly fits NHT's Classic Absolute Tower. I found it a smooth, liquid, detailed, dynamic performer with a wide range of program material, both music and films. It did nothing wrong, and was sufficiently revealing to let well-recorded music shine while making lesser recordings quite listenable.

Other speakers may do more in a particular area, but this one does it all in a naturally balanced fashion. Overall, in fact, the Classic Absolute Tower has impressed me more than any other NHT model I've heard. Stereophile readers should find it a truly "universal" speaker: Every reader of this magazine will enjoy listening to music through the Absolute Towers, and I am sure that no reader's spouse will object to their presence in the house. For $1000/pair, what more can you ask?

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