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9/10

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EMP Tek Impression IMP-7.1-2

America has given us many great things over the years, like hamburgers, jeans and, er, Michael Bolton, but if you’re into home cinema the latest import from the States could overshadow them all. We’re talking about the latest home cinema speakers from US brand EMP Tek, which have recently been introduced to the UK by Aylesbury-based distributor Aldous Systems.

EMP Tek’s first UK offering is the Impression range, which comes in a number of configurations with prices ranging from £1,500 to £2,250. The package on test here is the IMP-7.1-2, a 7.1-channel system that comes with a pair of E5Ti towers for the front channels, two pairs of E5Bi bookshelf speakers for the surround and surround back channels, an E5Ci centre and the ES10i subwoofer.
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If you have neither the room nor budget for surround back speakers then it’s also available as a straight up 5.1 system (IMP-5.1-2, £1,900). And if you’re not into towers then EMP Tek also offers a couple of systems that use E5Bi bookshelf speakers for the front channels instead, the 5.1-channel IMP-5.1-1 (£1,500) and 7.1-channel IMP-7.1-1 (£1,900).

Anyone shelling out this sort of moolah on a speaker system should demand faultless build quality, and that’s what you get. All of the speakers are gorgeously crafted and reassuringly hefty – lifting the towers out of their boxes on my own was incredibly difficult, but even from my hospital bed I could still appreciate their superb constriction.

Not only are they well made, but also fabulously stylish. Each speaker is clad in an eye-catching high-gloss red burl finish, a refreshing change from the usual wood-effect finishes used by many speakers in this price range. That said, they’re also available in high-gloss black ash if you prefer. The cabinets are fashioned from 0.5in medium density fibreboard, an inert material that minimises sound colouration, and this is doubled to 1-inch for the front baffles to help reduce acoustic radiation from the cabinet.
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The E5Ti towers stand 1.2m tall, giving them real presence in the room, and the curved sides exude elegance, tapering back towards a thinner back panel. Remove the grilles from the front – held on by plugs as opposed to magnets – and you’ll uncover no less than six drivers beneath. At the bottom are three 6.5in poly-matrix woofers, above which is a 1in poly-silk soft dome tweeter sandwiched between two 5.25in aluminised poly-matrix midrange drivers.

Not only does this arrangement suggest power aplenty (recommended input is 100W) but the quoted 40Hz – 20kHz frequency range also makes them ideal for use in a two-channel hi-fi environment. The rigid cones used by these drivers resist flexing to deliver an accurate sound, while the magnetic liquid cooling used in the tweeter ensures higher power handling. A current limiting device inside the speakers’ crossover network prevents the tweeter from being over driven.

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