Boston acoustics - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 1 Old 04-28-09, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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Boston acoustics

I have always respected Boston Acoustics, as a company who makes a wide variety of speakers, in various price ranges, of very good quality. This system, seems to have those roots and traits.

Boston Acoustics Classic CS 2310 5.1 Speaker System Reviewed

* By: Sean Killebrew
* - Reviewer's System

* Category:
* Audio Reviews, Bookshelf Speaker Reviews, Equipment Reviews

* Resources & Links:
* Bookshelf Speaker Reviews
* , Boston Acoustics

* April 20, 2009

've been a fan of Boston Acoustics since the mid-80's, when my Mom actually came home with a pair of massive floor-standers that (according to the salesman at Circuit City) could be found behind the screen in some movie theaters. Flash forward some 25 years and now I'm listening to another impressive set of Boston's, these of the 5.1 surround sound variety and retailing for an affordable $850. The set includes two pairs of CS 23 satellites for the front/rear, the CS 223C center channel and the CS Sub 10 subwoofer.

The system is available in black walnut or cherry vinyl finish (my review sample came in cherry) and while the finish is decent, manufacturers have been stepping up their game in this regard lately, even at the lower price points. Mounting options are plentiful, allowing you to place the speakers on stands, a shelf, or on the wall using the keyhole slots on the rear panel. The CS 23 satellite speakers are diminutive, measuring seven and three quarter inches high by five inches wide by five inches deep. The CS 223C center channel is also quite compact, measuring five inches high by 12 and a half inches wide and a little over four inches deep. The CS Sub 10 measures 15 inches on all sides and weighs 32 pounds, making it quite large compared to many of the subs in other compact 5.1 systems. The satellites feature a three and a half inch copolymer DCD woofer and a one-inch Kortec soft dome tweeter. The center channel features dual three and a half inch copolymer DCD woofers, as well as the same one-inch Kortec tweeter found in the CS 23's. The CS Sub 10 features a 10 inch down-firing DCD woofer, a built-in 100 Watt amp and BassTrac, which has nothing to do with fishing and everything to do with eliminating distortion. The rear panel of the CS Sub 10 includes LFE and line level inputs, volume control, polarity control (which can be set to regular or inverted phase, basically whichever sounds better in your room) and a standard crossover control.

The Hookup
I connected the CS 2310 system to my reference system, a McIntosh MX136 processor and Monster MPA 5150 five-channel amp. I set the front/rear satellites to "small" in the McIntosh setup menu and set the crossover on the CS Sub 10 to 80 Hz. For movies and lossless music, I used my Panasonic DMP-BD55 Blu-ray player with HDMI for video and (due to the lack of audio pass through on the Mac's HDMI inputs), used the 5.1 analog outputs for audio. I placed the center channel just under my Samsung 1080p LCD, stand-mounted the satellites just above ear level and placed the sub in the front left corner of the room. While the Boston's come packaged with speaker wire and a subwoofer cable, which is a nice touch, I opted for higher quality, lower gauge speaker cables in order to glean the best possible performance from the speakers. Speaking of performance, it's fair to say that in most real-world scenarios, people who buy this system will be using an A/V receiver to drive them, rather than $14K worth of high-end separates. That said, the better the source components, the better your chances of hearing all that a speaker system is capable of.

I began my first listening session with Dolby Digital's new Blu-ray demo disc and ended up spending a good deal of time with it. First up was "Crash Into Me," performed by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds (Sony BMG) in lossless Dolby TrueHD. I found the CS 2310's to be both detailed and engaging. In fact, I had to stop myself from singing in order to get back to listening, a good sign indeed. Dave Matthew's voice was clear and highly articulate. The guitar play was detailed and the overall feeling of being in the concert hall was convincing. While the soundstage was a bit narrow, this might be due to the rather large size of my listening room. In a small to mid-sized room the soundstage should open up considerably.

Moving on from Mr. Matthews, I wanted to try something a bit more bass heavy, something with a recurring bass line. After spending nearly an hour digging through my music collection, I decided that "Babylon Sister" from Steely Dan's Gaucho (DTS) fit the bill. Simply put, the CS Sub 10 shined. The bass was taut and palpable, even when driven to high volume. I ended up listening to this track several times and noticed that even at low volume, the 2310 system exhibited compelling detail. The female background vocals in the chorus were wide open and stood out. I know this track like the back of my hand, I've heard it on speaker systems costing tens of thousands of dollars, yet I was pleasantly surprised by what I was hearing, given these speakers affordability.

Once you've heard lossless sound on a good system, it's hard to go back. So I re-loaded the Dolby Digital demo disc and queued up Jane Monheit and John Pizzarelli performing "They Can't Take That Away from Me" in Dolby TrueHD (Weasel Disc). Again I found the speakers, specifically the 223C center channel, to be highly articulate. Jane's voice was crystal clear and wide open, exactly as it should be.

Next up, I chose some orchestral music in the form of the San Francisco Symphony performing Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring," again in Dolby TrueHD. This is where the system truly shined and showed its musicality. The separation among the instruments was quite stunning and closing my eyes produced the feeling of being in the room with the musicians. If you're a fan of orchestral music and you have less than a grand to spend on a 5.1 system, the Boston's should be on your short list.

While you won't hear me brag about the quality of the film, Rambo on Blu-ray (Lionsgate) features some pretty engaging gunfire, mortar and other associated sounds of destruction; perfect for testing the CS Sub 10's moxie, not to mention its ability to blend with the CS 23 satellites. In chapter six: "Under Siege", Rambo's explosive arrows flew convincingly from the front to rear satellites and into the head's of the Burmese bad guys. The large caliber gunfire was convincing and the explosions resonated, a pleasant surprise given the size of the speakers. Just as with music, the deep, tight bass supplied by the CS Sub 10 continued to impress.
Trying to trip up the sub, I threw in an old bass-heavy favorite - Master and Commander (20th Century Fox). In the chapter "Under Attack", the sound of the cannonballs ripping through the HMS Surprise rocked my listening room with resounding force. When the scene moved to the belly of the ship, the sound of the footsteps on the deck above raced through the surround channels convincingly, creating a high level of tension. Master and Commander is a torture test for small systems and the CS 2310 system passed, although when driven to crazy high volume, the sub did bottom-out a couple of times. That said, I like to listen to movies loud, angry wife loud, and the Boston's certainly delivered in that regard.

Low Points
While the setup was mostly painless, I did have a bit of trouble screwing down the binding posts on the center and satellites as they're positioned very close to one another. Those with large hands might opt for some banana clips to avoid this minor hassle. I auditioned the CS 2310 system with and without the grilles and noticed that, due to the recessed nature of their design, the speakers are simply more attractive with the grilles on. Take them off for serious listening, put them back on when the guests roll up. The other minor issue I had was with the manual, it's safe to assume that those searching for speakers in this price range might need a bit more education in terms of setup, and in that regard I found the manual to be a bit sparse. I also would've liked explanations for some of the technologies and materials Boston builds into their speakers, such as BassTrac and Kortec. For instance, I had to Google BassTrac to determine that it's a proprietary Boston technology designed to "preserve the shape of the original signal for maximum fidelity and clarity."

While the Boston's don't possess the soundstage or the dynamic range of my reference Definitive Technology Mythos speakers, they're also one fourth the price and one third the size. I've had the Classic CS 2310 system connected in my main listening room for a couple of weeks and I've really enjoyed them. While these are probably ideal in small to medium rooms, they're certainly capable of filling a larger room, provided that you don't listen at ear-crushing volumes. Although this system is designed to be equally adept with both movies and music, I found that they really shined on well recorded multi-channel music. And I can't say enough about the subwoofer, it really made movie watching more engaging and blended seamlessly with the satellites. So if you're a music listener first and a movie watcher second, this system is worth a look. The sub $1,000 5.1 speaker market is flooded, and I've listened to plenty of them. That said, these throwback Boston Classics certainly warrant an audition. With this system it's clear that Boston Acoustics is serious about design, serious about the sound quality and aiming squarely at the likes of Energy, Polk, Definitive Technology, etc. This is a fine entry in the affordable 5.1 speaker realm and one I recommend wholeheartedly.

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