The Boston Horizon home theatre speaker system is radically different from any other speaker system that you’ve likely used before. Indeed, even from the norms of what is traditionally considered essential in loudspeaker design. Yet... it works! It works very well indeed.

Let us explore this unusual system further.

Equipment

BA-Horizon-S1What is so very much different about this system is the abandonment of wood, MDF and similar traditional materials. Instead, the cabinets are made from ABS, that strong, rigid plastic material that is used in many semistructural contexts.

‘So what?’, you may say, given that there are plenty of speakers made of ABS. True. But those are almost exclusively small satellite speakers. Here we are talking of floorstanding full-range loudspeakers, standing a metre tall. And also a 150W, 254mm-driver subwoofer.

Since this flies in the face of hi-fi tradition, we must hasten to assure you again that, pushing preconceptions aside, it works.

The system consists of six units: there are a pair of HS 450 floorstanders. Each of these uses two 133mm bass drivers and a 25mm soft-dome tweeter. In another departure from convention, the cabinet is tuned with the use of two 165mm passive radiators on the front, and a bass reflex port at the rear.

The centre-channel HS 225 uses the same set of drivers as the floorstanders, but in a much more compact cabinet. In fact, this unit is marketed as an LCR, so it can be used in its own right for all points of the surround system, aided by the integrated wall mount.

We were also supplied with the HS50 surround channel speakers. These have one of the 133mm bass/midrange drivers and the same 25mm dome tweeter that is shared across the whole range.

The subwoofer features a large 254mm driver and 150W of power amplification, yet it too manages with an ABS enclosure. The rear-firing bass reflex port means that the unit can’t be tucked quite as tightly into a corner as one may prefer.

Performance

BA-Horizon-S2We did quite a bit of listening to the front stereo pair, with our home theatre receiver switched to ‘Pure Direct’ to ensure that the signal wasn’t being damaged by any kind of processing. And the results were simply excellent. The frequency balance was good, with a clearly extended range.

But where these speakers stood out was with imaging. Somehow they managed to create both within and outside their bounds the superb illusion of tangible instruments. These acoustic phantoms were not only on the level of the speakers, but above them as well. A voice hovered consistently over the top of the speakers while the acoustic guitar emerged from between them.

With this kind of performance from the front speakers, it wasn’t really much of a surprise to find that as a surround system the package worked beautifully as well. The whole surround field seemed accurate, yet spacious.

We were a little surprised, once we got around to reading the system specifications, that Boston Acoustics only rates the subwoofer down to 35Hz (admittedly, within a tight ±3dB band). It sounded to us like the bass from the subwoofer was fuller and even deeper than this. So we did a quick measurement, and in our room the sub was producing down to 30Hz within that same decibel range. Using our preferred ±6dB range for our in-room measurements, it was delivering an impressive 26Hz! This is not dinosaur-footstep territory, but it most certainly did deliver plenty of power for explosions and the like. There was never any sense of limitation here.

Our measurements also showed that the HS 450 floorstanders were very competent across the full frequency spectrum, and with decent bass, despite the relatively compact cabinets they employ. Within our ±6dB measurement envelope, they reached 40Hz. We had them a good metre out into the room. Our measurements showed the band below 200Hz to be about three decibels below the higher frequencies, suggesting to us that Boston Acoustics intends these speakers for close-to-wall placement (a design criterion that first brought BA to fame decades ago).

We measured the sensitivity of the front speakers at 87dB/W/m, which is slightly lower than average, but still reasonable. The speakers seemed quite comfortable with the high levels of power we threw at them, so they were able to deliver quite high volume levels.

Conclusion

Had this speaker system come from a brand with which we were less familiar than Boston Acoustics, we might have had misgivings about the unusual structural materials. But we were surprised by the exceptional performance of this system. We recommend an audition, as their performance will impress, while décor-tied users will appreciate the wide range of cabinet and grille colours available. The package can be purchased with cabinets in either Midnight or Mist (or a mixture), with six optional coloured grilles (available for all the Horizon speakers) some of which we’ve pictured here.

Excellent sound Stylish looks Good bass from subwoofer

Work best with plenty of power on tap

BOSTON HORIZON HOME THEATRE SPEAKER SYSTEM

Price: $3396
Warranty: Five years (two years on active components in subwoofer)
Contact: Hi Fi & Video Marketing, 02 9319 6877