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Teufel might not be a name you're familiar with, but the German company has been selling speakers since 1979 and has enjoyed enormous success in its native homeland. But now the company has started selling its products to the UK through its new English website, and showed off its complete range to the press at a recent preview event in London.
Among the many products on show were all-in-one home cinema systems, PC speaker kits, serious audiophile THX systems, iPod docks and stereo speakers, but on test here is the Impaq 500, a 2.1-channel all-in-one system that comes with an integrated DVD/CD player and amplifier unit, two IP 500 F column speakers and the IP 500 SW subwoofer. It's the follow-up to the company's debut 2.1 system, the Impaq 400, and the idea behind it is to deliver a powerful home cinema experience without taking up loads of space - summed up by the mantra ‘maximum home cinema, minimum space requirements'.
Stylish design is another important part of Teufel's ethos, and on that score the Impaq 500 doesn't disappoint. The main unit is handsomely crafted and unashamedly chunky, which provides a welcome alternative to the hordes of slimline units doing the rounds. It's finished in gloss black, and the fascia is fitted with a sparse selection of big chunky buttons, a tasteful silver-trimmed volume dial and a centrally placed disc tray. Just above the tray, an easy-to-read illuminated display shows the elapsed time and track/chapter number, while on the bottom right corner you'll find a USB port and a headphone output.
On the rear panel is a very generous array of sockets, including HDMI, component, S-Video, composite and SCART outputs, plus optical digital, coaxial digital and analogue stereo audio outputs. External audio sources are well catered for too, with three analogue stereo inputs plus optical and coaxial digital inputs. Rounding up the selection are aerial inputs for the built-in FM/AM radio tuners and three pairs of speaker binding posts, which makes a refreshing change from the inferior springclip terminals found on the majority of home cinema systems.
It only takes a quick feel of the speakers to realise where your money's going. The columns are robust, weighty and elegant, sporting the same gloss black finish as the main unit. The subwoofer also boasts classy looks and large rubber spikes to minimise vibration, but its enormous size rather contradicts the message about not taking up much space. It's not powered, so the only thing you'll find on the back is a pair of binding posts.