Aperion Audio Intimus 6T loudspeaker

I got a call a while back from Stephen Mejias (Stereophile('s Sancho Panza to John Atkinson's Don Quixote), who informed me that Aperion Audio had redesigned their entire line of loudspeakers, and suggested that I check them out. I had responded very favorably to Aperion's Intimus 533-T, which I reviewed in the April 2007 issue. I loved the speaker's sound, the sexy appearance, and felt it was good value at $750/pair. And I thought Aperion's 30-day free trial with free shipping each way was a deal that few could resist. So when this factory-direct, Oregon-based company informed me that they'd updated the drivers and crossovers across their entire speaker line, I decided to give a listen to their new flagship, the Intimus 6T ($1390/pair).

Aperion explained to me that the revamped Intimus line features a tweeter "substantially improved" over the original version, as well as new woofers and crossovers. In addition, the company has established a new, extensive "voicing" process in which a listening panel auditions, measures, and tweaks each design until the entire team is satisfied with its performance.

In an attempt to find out more about what makes these speakers tick, I contacted Ken Humphreys, Aperion's designer and engineer. He responded with 22 specific design parameters covering frequency response, tonal balance, power response, dispersion, bass extension, cabinet size, sensitivity, crossover design, drivers, and enclosure material. The best piece of data was this summary description of his design approach: "sensible and pragmatic, while paying a little more attention than usual to power response and satisfying both listeners and measurement freaks." I'm anxious to read the analysis of our own resident measurement freak, JA.

I was struck by the formidable appearance of this sexy floorstander, which is larger and more substantial-looking than anything else I've seen at or near its price—I've never reviewed a speaker costing less than $1400/pair that weighs 70 lbs. The Intimus 6T's curved shape is intended to blend seamlessly with any décor, and its hefty cabinet, made of 1"-thick high-density fiberboard (HDF) and built to minimize resonances, is front-ported and magnetically shielded. The 6T is available in two finishes: cherrywood and the glossy piano black of my review samples. In fact, the latter were so shimmering and dazzling that they created a slight noise-floor problem early in my listening sessions. Immediately after unpacking the 6Ts, I had to deal with the constant barking of Max, my five-month-old Sheltie puppy, who was convinced that his perfect reflection in the 6T's finish was another dog.1 In addition to Aperion's no-risk return policy, the speakers are sold with a 10-year warranty, which is unusual in this industry.

The Intimus 6T features Aperion's new 1" silk-dome tweeter and a pair of 6.5" woven-fiberglass woofers. Aperion designed the speakers to sound most natural when played with the grilles on, and I agree. With the grilles removed, the 6T's overall sound seemed less coherent, the high frequencies somewhat detached from the midrange and bass.

I was impressed with the way the Intimus 6T unraveled inner detail. I found myself drawn into very-well-recorded music to analyze the interactions of the musicians. In "Lap Dawg," the encore track on my jazz quartet Attention Screen's Live at Merkin Hall (CD, Stereophile STPH018-2), we deviated a bit from the straightforward tonal structure of the rest of the performance. Backstage after the final piece we'd planned to play, I watched our guitarist, Don Fiorino, visibly vibrating with energy in response to the audience's applause. "What instrument do you want to play for the encore?"

"Lap steel," he replied.

"Do you want to play it straight, or is it time to let you out of your cage?"

"Out of my cage."

That was the extent of the planning that, immediately after, resulted in "Lap Dawg." It was hard to listen to the track through the Intimus 6Ts and do anything else. The speakers kept drawing me in to the performance, forcing me to analyze the interaction of we four musicians. I was attentive as bassist Chris Jones opened with a bass synthesizer blast (his fretless Fender Bass at times is processed through a Moogerfogger pedal), while drummer Mark Flynn frantically laid down rhythmic bedrock with his snare and brushes. As Fiorino's lap steel ricocheted off the ionosphere, I focused on tying the group together with a minimalist vamp within a narrow range of my acoustic piano's middle register.

Aperion Audio
18151 SW Boones Ferry Road
Portland, OR 97224
(888) 880-8992