We tested the Aperion Verus Forte speakers in a moderately sized, acoustically treated room. Associated test equipment included an Anthem MRX-700 receiver, Marantz SR6005 A/V receiver, Sony 4600ES receiver, LG BD 370 Blu-Ray disc player, Pioneer PL-61 Turntable with Ortofon OM-5E catridge, Bellari Phono Pre-Amp, HeadRoom Micro DAC and Kimber Kable speaker wire. To ensure proper break-in, we ran the speakers at low volume for 50 hours prior to our listening test.
For listening material, we used the SACD versions of Steely Dan’s Gaucho, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the DVD-Audio and DTS versions of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly, and CD versions of Maceo Parker’s Mo Roots, Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold, Dianna Krall’s Quiet Nights and Jimmy Smith’s The Sermon.
The Verus Forte towers’ high frequency response is distinguished, detailed and sounds just slightly forward in the mix. Aperion reports that they chose this tweeter because of its excellent work in the lower treble region. By allowing the tweeter to play as low as 1.8k, the midrange driver has to do less work in the higher frequency range. The product of this design approach, in the case of the Verus Forte tower, is an articulate, punctuated attack that we’d describe as clear and transparent. Though the high frequencies were just a bit forward in the mix, they were always realistic and well controlled with plenty of “air” around instruments, particularly stringed instrumentation. When listening to Love over Gold, for instance, the sounds of finger picking were evident and had a texture to them that yielded a “live sound” feel. At extremely high volumes, the highs maintained their integrity and avoided becoming shrill or harsh. We were concerned about the low tweeter height in the Forte towers. At just 28.5” off the floor (with floor spikes attached) the center of the tweeter is well below “ear height” when seated. However, most of the high frequencies are well dispersed enough to be heard just as intensely when standing as they were when seated. Only the very highest frequencies were mellowed out by getting out of the “sweet spot”.
The speaker’s mid-range response ran a close second to the treble region for our favorite sonic aspect of this speaker. Perhaps it is due to the low crossover point between the tweeter and midrange driver, but we felt the midrange region shared the clear, transparent attributes of the speaker’s highs whilst also producing plenty of body and richness. Diana Krall’s alto voice can get a little husky sometimes and her closely mic’d recordings can be difficult for a speaker to reproduce properly but the Verus Forte towers fared quite well. Somewhat surprisingly, the midrange region seemed most affected by the different equipment we used. With the Sony ES receiver we used, we felt as if vocals were slightly recessed and a little thin, whereas with our Marantz SR6005 receiver, the vocals took center stage and came across with warmth and a close presence. The Verus Forte doesn’t have the big round sound of a speaker twice its size with big 6.5” drivers but, listening to our test cuts, we never felt like we missed anything. The sonic character of the Forte tower is remarkably big for a speaker of any size, let alone one as small as this.
We’ve heard quite a few compact towers recently and a common pitfall that this product category seems to fall victim to is the urge to fake big bass by beefing up the mid-bass region. Often the result is a constant droning resonance that gives the impression of bass but lacks any real articulation or definition. Thankfully, the Verus Forte tower doesn’t fall prey to this misconception that faked bass makes up for lack of abilities in the lowest octave. While these towers are not likely to be shaking any pictures off the walls, they do produce a natural and full bass response right down to about 60hz. Musically speaking, the Forte’s sound great without a subwoofer but they fare best on their own when driven by a well-powered amplifier. Their bass response was just slightly more poignant when we bi-amped the speaker, but not so much so that we felt like the hassle of setting up the receiver and speaker wires for a bi-amp hookup was worth the extra effort. If bi-amping is your thing, then go for it but for those without the means to bi-amp speakers, know that you won’t miss out on anything with this speaker. For movies, the towers offered a decent amount of punch to reinforce the deeper bass work of our subwoofer. Bass heads will no doubt be using a subwoofer all the time with the Forte, but those who prefer a very natural bass sound should be really pleased with what these speakers can do. We do have to iterate, though, that the bass region benefited a great deal by being driven by a well powered receiver. Some of our lower powered amps didn’t really bring out the best in the Forte’s bass response.
The soundstage and imaging properties of the speakers are both pleasing. The Forte towers have the sort of pinpoint center imaging that will get you out of your chair to see if the center channel is on when it shouldn’t be. Even when not “toed in” the speakers had a way of placing vocals in the very center of the room. The soundstage exhibited a fair amount of depth, but the sound didn’t seem to stretch out beyond the edge of the speakers as much as we’d expected. Still, every inch between them was filled out with some portion of our recording’s presentation. This pair of speakers didn’t really “disappear into the room”- they do call some attention to themselves, but in an engaging sort of “check me out” fashion that hits your ears with lots of nuances and texture.
Center Channel & Surround Speakers
With all of our focus on the tower speakers, you might think we’d forgotten about the center channel and surround speakers. We didn’t. It’s just that the towers were so engaging and fun to listen to, that we ended up taking our sweet time getting around to testing the other speakers in the system. It turns out the center channel does a pretty remarkable job. We isolated the center during some of our mult-channel listening sessions and we were very impressed with its robust and tonally accurate sound. Musically, the center channel holds up very well in comparison with its towering brothers. As a dialogue machine, the Forte center channel puts the movie track right in your face. Dialogue was intelligible and never got buried by the surrounding tracks. In small and medium sized rooms, the Forte center is all the center channel one is likely to need. Larger rooms might benefit from a larger model of speaker, but even in those cases, the Forte should be able to satisfy all but the most critical of listeners.
We were equally impressed with the satellites. The high frequencies they put out were a dead-on match for those emanating from the mains and center channel. They clearly lacked the bass authority that the other three channels offered, but did a solid job as a surround speaker. For those who do a lot of multi-channel listening, a larger surround may be warranted but we think that, otherwise, the Forte satellites are a strong candidate as a musical speaker in a number of small room or close-in listening situations. Paired with a subwoofer, the satellites would make pretty dynamite computer speakers or even handle background music for a small room.
Aperion’s Verus Forte speakers, particularly the floor-standing tower model, offer an appreciable improvement over the companys’ already solid Intimus offerings. The differences between the two lines is most obvious in the high frequency section where the tweeters higher-power handling and lower frequency capabilities serve to make the speakers sound articulate, accurate and detailed enough to satisfy just about any critical listener. Their more stylistic cabinets add to the speaker’s refinement and make a pleasant statement in a room. At $495.00 each, the Verus Forte Tower represents a very solid value, if a bit more expensive than the company’s Intimus line. We think these speakers will appeal to budget-audiophiles who want a speaker that challenges the law of diminishing returns by offering an incredibly refined, full bodied sound in an attractive package under the $1k price point. Add to the towers a very capable center channel and surrounds and you’ve got a surround speaker system that will most certainly be the envy of your friends and neighbors. Due to their excellent musicality, large sound in a small footprint and high value, the Verus Forte Towers earn our Editor’s Choice Award.
- Clean, articulate Highs
- Transparent, warm midrange
- Excellent cabinet design and finish
- Lacks deepest bass octave
- Outrigger feet lack padding