Boston Acoustics VS 344 Review

Highs

  • Thin, beautifully finished cabinet
  • Tight, room filling bass
  • Airy, detailed highs
  • Easy to drive

Rating

Our Score 8.5
User Score 0

Lows

  • Overly tall
  • Top to bottom grill may attract unwanted attention
  • Premium Price at $2500/pair.
Its articulate yet powerful bass, open midrange and refined highs make for a speaker that is worthy of ample praise.

Performance

For our evaluation of the VS 344, we used a variety of amplification and sources that included a Harman/Kardon 430 stereo receiver; Marantz SR6004 receiver; Dynaco ST-70 tube amp; LG BD370 Blu-Ray player; and a Marantz turntable outfitted with an Ortofon OM5e catridge. The speakers were auditioned in a two channel setup with no subwoofer. The wiring used included a standard 12 AWG all copper wire terminated with banana plugs as well as KimberKable 8TC also terminated with bananas.

After a customary 50-hour break-in session, we placed the VS 344s about 10 feet apart and 1.5 feet from the wall behind them.

Ignoring our urges to test the VS 344’s bass capability, we started with James Taylor’s Covers album and the track “Suzanne.” This is an extremely well-recorded track with minimal instrumentation that has a way of revealing a speaker’s midrange and high frequency response traits. Though the recording features mostly guitar and voice with some background violin, there is an abundance of nuance in this cut, and a lesser speaker will miss it. The VS 344 didn’t miss a thing. Not only did we hear all of the finger noise on the guitar strings and hammers on the piano strings, but James’ potentially sibilant “S” sounds came across sparkling clean. It isn’t often that we get to enjoy all the air and detail around instrumentation without also having to endure overly bright, sometimes screechy cymbals, strings and brass. Thankfully, the VS 344’s tweeter is top notch and does a tremendous job of holding up under stress.

Since it is capable of being crossed over at lower frequencies, this same tweeter also benefits midrange production. By tasking the midrange driver with fewer high frequencies, the VS 344’s engineers have been able to simultaneously avoid harsh highs and refine the midrange. To hone in on the VS 344’s midrange performance, we queued up both the CD and Vinyl version of The Sermon! by Jimmy Smith. On the bonus track, “‘S Wonderful,” Lee Morgan’s trumpet gets set right in the listener’s face. Later in the same track, Jimmy Smith takes a monster solo, exploring the upper and lower regions of his B-3 organ and everything in between. Pulling this recording off well can be tough for speakers with smaller drivers, but the VS 344 did a more than admirable job of bringing the recording into our room. Even when Lee’s trumpet gets aggressive and tends to smear the sound a bit, the units produced only what is on the recording and didn’t seem to add any color of their own.

We mentioned earlier that the VS 344 uses four 4” drivers in each ported cabinet to handle bass response. Given enough cabinet volume, a single 4” driver can actually produce some fairly low bass frequencies, but ask too much of it, and you’ll soon know it. In theory, two 4” drivers should behave more like a 6.5” or 8” driver in terms of their capable bass output: More surface area equals more sound. So how do eight 4” drivers actually perform at handling the bass responsibilities of this speaker? They do just fine, thank you.

We put the VS344 through a barrage of bass tests in an effort to trip them or expose some sort hidden flaw, but it was hard to fault them in any case. Acoustic upright bass had the right sort of smooth, woody feel with just enough bottom end to be felt in the room. More aggressive bass tracks by the likes of Nathan East and Victor Wooten were clean and taught. We even ran a couple of demanding movie tracks through the VS 344 to see how it handled big explosions. Though not quite as visceral as a subwoofer, the VS 344 did very well, and we certainly didn’t feel like we were missing anything without the subwoofer. More importantly, the VS 344 never chuffed or bottomed out during out tests, which is impressive because we really pushed on them.

Sonically, the VS 344s are impressive. They have a sort of seamless quality that gives you the feeling that you are missing nothing in your recordings. Their bass response is impressive for any non-powered floor-standing speaker, the midrange open and transparent, and the high frequencies very well controlled. Top to bottom, this speaker does what a quality speaker ought to: It gets out of the way and lets the music do the talking.

Conclusion

Boston Acoustics’ proprietary drivers, superior engineering and high-quality cabinetry combine to produce the stealthy VS 344 floor-standing loudspeaker. Its articulate yet powerful bass, open midrange and refined highs make for a speaker that is worthy of ample praise. Whether used in a two-channel environment or as part of a home theater surround system, we think you’ll be very pleased with this very capable tower speaker.

Highs:

  • Thin, beautifully finished cabinet
  • Tight, room filling bass
  • Airy, detailed highs
  • Easy to drive

Lows:

  • Overly tall
  • Top to bottom grill may attract unwanted attention
  • Premium Price at $2500/pair.

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