Stratus Speaker System
have been with us for just about twenty years now and company founder
and engineer Paul Barton continues his relentless effort to reach for
strives for sound quality and reliability and his latest line, conveniently
named the "Stratus series", is another example of what he is
trying to achieve.
part of this setup was carrying and unpacking the hefty PSB Stratus Silver
main speakers. Packaging was first rate, as the speaker is well protected
from the dangers of everyday shipping, ensuring greater chance of the
speakers arriving to your door in one piece. Out of the box the speakers
certainly look handsome. My demo pair had a black piano gloss finish with
beveled corners and nicely integrated speaker grills.
side panels are made of a wood composite that is 40 percent heavier than
the wood in most other speakers. No wonder my back was complaining when
lifting these babies!
The sides are
joined with a tongue-in-groove aluminum extrusion. Rapping the cabinet
with my knuckles produced no ringing whatsoever. This convinced me that
whatever sound we would hear would come from the speakers and not the
cabinet. Even though the speakers are tall (38.75"), the cabinet
is so slim that less than one square foot of floor space is occupied!
are of a tower design sporting two 6.5" woofers with a one inch aluminum
dome tweeter mounted between them. Although using a three speaker configuration,
the Silvers are a two way design that incorporates the famous "Linkwitz-Riley"
crossover - at 24dB-per-octave. This is said to provide a smooth transition
from the woofer to the tweeter in both amplitude and phase, a necessary
ingredient in the THX world.
each work at different frequencies. One works from 26Hz to 500Hz, while
the other takes over from 500Hz to 2100Hz, which means the system seems
to work in a quasi three way configuration.
Rated at 4 ohms,
this speaker could put demands on entry to mid level receivers, since
their power supply would have to produce the ample current that these
speakers may demand at higher power levels.
is of the vented type with a 2.5" port. Sensitivity, or efficiency,
was measured at 91dB and power handling is rated at 200 watt. Frequency
response is 26Hz to 24 kHz.
Stratus center channel also had a gloss black finish with two 4.5"
woofers in a horizontal configuration with two "stacked" tweeters
in between. The tweeters are set up this way to minimize the "lobing"
that can cause an unstable effect in the center channel. The idea is to
keep voices and effects anchored to the television screen the way a center
are 19 ½"w x10"d x 7"h.... not a bad size for most
televisions or big screens. I placed the unit on top of my Sony XBR just
slightly above ear level and was quite satisfied with its sound.
As for the rear
speakers, PSB provided the Ambient II, a dipoler design with two 51/4"
woofers and two ½" tweeters. Dimensions were 11" h x
11"w x 8" deep. The dipoler design, which emanates sound by
using two sets of drivers working in opposition, is said to create a diffuse
field without drawing attention to themselves.
PSB included the mounting brackets. I mounted the speakers about 7
high on the walls with the "null side" facing in laterally to
the listening area. Unfortunately, the matching subwoofer did not arrive
on time, so I tested the system without one.
Now for the
I toed in the
main speakers about 10 degrees for the best sound coverage and fired up
my trusty old Laser Disc player for the true test. I used the latest release
from Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro ("Heat") for my first sample.
crisp and clean and I did not have to strain to hear Pacinos smoky
voice. The stacked tweeters certainly helped out here. The robbery chase
scene was truly mesmerizing. The panning effect of the getaway car from
left, center, right channels was bang on. There was no evidence of mismatch
of timbre, the center channel worked perfectly with the mains. Gunshots
had depth and attack, while the screeching of tires made ones heart
pound as if one were actually driving the car. An excellent scene for
an Adrenaline rush!
The PSBs kept
me involved in the action. The final scene of Heat, where DeNiro and Pacino
match wits, takes place on a busy airstrip. The roaring of jet engines
sounded as if my livingroom had become a runway!
The depth and
cleanliness of the speakers was truly impressive, and the soundfield was
seamless. Even though a subwoofer would have enhanced the low frequency
effects, it was not sorely missed; the Stratus Silver mains did very well
on their own!
In the famous
T. Rex scene from Jurassic Park the Silvers again held their own, suggesting
that a subwoofer is not really necessary. Sound was clean, with no hint
of duress or strain. The only time I ran into distortion was when my reference
Onkyo receiver ran out of gas at higher than normal listening levels.
PSBs Ambient II rear speakers sounded totally unobtrusive, blending
in and setting up a beefy surround soundfield. There was no hint of localized
sounds from the rears, all in all a perfect match to the rest of the speaker
As for true
stereo listening, the Silvers showed good bass response with a well balanced
high end, though the midrange did tend to sound somewhat confined, or
"boxy." In terms of imaging they did an admirable job, but I
felt they could do better. I blame my listening room for that, though,
since the ceiling is so high (14ft.) and the room is so small I was forced
to have the speakers too close to the listener (8ft away). Still, these
speakers are worth looking into.
looking for a speaker system that is perfectly matched for home theater,
look no further. They are handsomely designed, have good bass output,
dont take up a whole lot of room and are a decently priced. What
more could anyone ask for?
(price as tested,
in Canadian dollars)
Silver...Price as tested $1499/pr.
PSB SC5 Center... Price as tested $499.
PSB Ambient II... Price as tested $449/pr.
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