Sub/sat system shows Craft

Steve May auditions an unashamedly upmarket sub/sat system

SpeakerCraft is not the first brand that comes to mind when short-listing designer hi-fi. The company, best known as a purveyor of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, has an image that’s more plasterboard than posh. But that’s about to change with Its new RooTs loudspeakers that strive to impress. The piano gloss cabinets (in black or white) have a quality finish that would be a crime to hide away. The sub is especially handsome.

The system reviewed here comprises the aforementioned head-turning 310 sub (£1,050), four 450 satellites (£525 a pair) and a CC centre channel (£350). Total system cost is around £2,450.

The weighty 450s feature a 4.5in paper cone woofer and 0.75in silk dome tweeter. They can be wallmounted, but come with little rubber feet for bookshelf use.

The dedicated CC centre speaker incorporates two of the 4.5in woofers separated by the same silk dome tweeter; it’s a tonal match for its sibling boxes. All of the enclosures have detachable grilles.

After several days of movies and music, I was left in no doubt that the star of the show is the 310 subwoofer. It’s a versatile depth-charger that means business.

Connectivity is extensive. In addition to a pair of phono line inputs, there’s a loop-through allowing other subwoofers to be daisy-chained if you need bass re-enforcement. Also supplied are speaker-level connections with high-grade binding posts, and a 12V trigger input offering useful system control from an AVR or amp.

For this audition, I ran the system in a standard 5.1 configuration with a mono line-level LFE input. Consequently, there was no need to power the sub up and down, as it auto wakes when a signal comes down the line. Sensitivity is variable, to reduce the chance of the sub falling asleep mid-movie.

The RooTs sub packs some decent DSP, too. There are presets for Loud, Normal, Clean, Night 1, 2, 3, plus a trio of EQ settings. The Deep mode combines a linear descent from 30Hz with a gentle boost just above. Normal is linear between 33Hz to 65Hz, with a predictably gradual roll-off . Punch rolls off the lower ranges more overtly, to create more slam.

Invasion of RooT 66

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix for Battle: LA is a torture test of dynamics and steerage, but this system wore this alien invasion chaos well, taking the sudden dramatic retort of weapons fi re, smooth, sharp panning and explosions in its stride, with the low-reaching subwoofer providing a thumping heartbeat to the satellites. Although ostensibly part of a sub/sat package, the 450s are actually full-throated. They get excited at 50Hz and reach up high. This makes them a deal more useful than lesser satellites when it comes to music replay.

They do require some management, though. Vocals can have a chandelier sharpness. The avant-garde jazz of HYPS (Chaotic Planet, Pony Canyon CD) features a percussive attack that’s a little too edgy through these diminutive boxes. The good news is that this can be tamed with a little re-equalisation. I found that engaging THX Music post-processing at my AVR end took the edge off the top.

If you’ve been hankering after an eclectic, yet stylish, sound system, audition these gorgeous boxes. They’re easy to accommodate, are distinctly individual and the subwoofer is out of this world.

HCC VERDICT

Highs: Exquisitely finished enclosures; awesome subwoofer with good connections; full-range sats;
Lows: The bookshelf 450s are a little toppy, and can sound a tad boxy
Performance: 4/5
Design: 5/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Specifications

RooTs 450
Drive Units: 1 x 4.5in paper cone woofer; 1 x 0.75in silk dome tweeter
Enclosure:
Ported bookshelf design
Frequency Response: N/A
Sensitivity: 88dB
Power Handling: 100W
Dimensions: 232 (w) x 156(h) x 162(d)mm

RooTs CC Centre
Drive Units: 2 x 4.5in paper cone woofers; 1 x 0.75in silk dome tweeter
Enclosure: Ported horizontal design
Frequency Response: 75Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity: 85dB
Power Handling: 60W
Dimensions: 435 (w) x 156(h) x 159(d)mm

RooTs 310 sub
Drive Unit: 10in full pressed paper cone
Enclosure: Ported
Frequency Response: 30Hz-100Hz
On board power: 300W
Dimensions: 406(w) x 361(h) x 399(d)mm
Weight: 16kg
Connections: Phono line-level; speakerlevel binding posts; 12V trigger