Due to their size limitations, compact speaker systems can sometimes struggle to deliver a big, room-filling sound, but this diminutive 5.1 system from US brand Definitive Technology tackles the issue head on. Its Balanced Double Surround System (BDSS) brings a much-needed boost to the important lower midrange frequencies, supposedly resulting in a bigger and warmer sound than regular compact systems.
It features four identical ProMonitor 600 satellites, the ProCenter 600 centre speaker and the ProSub 600 powered woofer. At a shade under £700, it’s not exactly a budget package, but not beyond the realms of mere mortals either – and if it lives up to Def Tech’s promises, it’ll definitely be money well spent.
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You can certainly see and feel every penny of that price tag in the system’s gorgeous design and substantial build quality. The Pro Monitor 600 sats jump out and grab you with their alluring gloss-black finish and curved back-end, which will go down a storm in any living room. They’re also available in gloss-white.
Remove the grille covering the front and top of the satellites and things get really interesting. On the front you’ll see a 1-inch aluminium dome tweeter and 3¼-inch BDSS woofer, which is pressure coupled to an identically sized midbass radiator on top.
This upward facing radiator effectively doubles the speaker’s lower-midrange radiating area, boosting the warmth and body of male dialogue and music while generating a more substantial sound than you might expect from speakers measuring just 177mm high. This system has filtered down from Definitive Technology’s high-end models.
The ProCenter 600 is an equally attractive speaker, blessed with the same glossy finish and curvy form factor as the ProMonitor 600s. The only differences are that it lies horizontally for easy placement on a shelf, with two BDSS midbass flanking the 1in tweeter. The BDSS drivers are coupled to radiators at each end, which are designed to give dialogue greater authority.
The ProSub 600’s matte black finish makes it less glamorous than the satellites but still looks smart and attractive. Its cube shape and compact dimensions (330 x 330mm) should make it fairly easy to accommodate behind the TV or in the corner of the room. Build quality is every bit as good as the other speakers – its robust cabinet and sturdy feet inspire confidence.
On the back you’ll find speaker level input and output, LFE input and crossover controls. The volume dial has helpfully been placed on the side rather than the back, which makes it easier to adjust if the sub isn’t easily accessible.
The 8in woofer inside the ProSub 600 is pressure coupled to an 8in low bass radiator, which is said to deliver a 27% increase in radiating area over a single 10in woofer. The upshot? Bigger, meatier bass notes.
Compact it may be, but nothing about the Def Tech’s presentation is small. The BDSS system works a treat, making Godzilla’s monstrous action scenes sound powerful and expansive. During the jaw-dropping set piece in which the MUTOs attack Honolulu Airport, the enormous explosions are underpinned by rich bass that doesn’t boom or bloat.
Sure, larger speakers and pricier compact setups have the lungs to take it to the next level, but the 600s get stuck into the soundtrack with such gusto that you have to keep reminding yourself that they’re only 107mm deep.
We love the full-bodied sound produced by the BDSS drivers. Some compact systems are all bass and treble with scant regard for the rest, but the ProCinema 600 fills in the gaps with its impressive lower midrange response and watertight integration between the sats and sub.
We’re also impressed by the seamless tonality, which results in smooth steering as missiles and helicopters pan between channels. The soundstage remains composed and well organised no matter how frenetic the action gets, yet dialogue always cuts through the cacophony.
The sub responds well to the rigorous demands of the bass-heavy soundtrack. Sudden bass hits punch deep into your chest and stop with impressive control, while the massive rumble as Godzilla approaches the Golden Gate Bridge will get your crockery rattling.
The sats’ snappy tone keeps things exciting without testing the tolerance of your eardrums. Gunshots and clashing metal are crisp and purposeful, plus every scene is packed with detail.
However, its overly crisp and clinical approach won’t suit everyone, and comes across as unnatural at times. Lashing rain and tinkling glass sits a little too prominently in the mix, while aggressive effects spit when you turn the volume up loud. Other systems, like the Quad L-ite Plus or the Polk TL1600 deliver detail in a smoother and more inconspicuous manner. This isn’t a deal-breaker but takes the shine off an otherwise superb performance.
The system’s crisp high frequencies are more at home with music. Incisive hi-hats and percussion intertwine with the deep, detailed vocals and pulsating bass to create a lively, full-bodied performance across a variety of genres.
There are several excellent compact 5.1 systems at this price, but the ProCinema 600 makes a convincing bid for your cash with its exciting, room-filling performance and classy styling. BDSS technology works brilliantly, creating a huge, expansive sound that belies the speakers’ compact dimensions, while dialogue and detail are crisply defined.
Our only criticism is that it’s a little over zealous in the high frequencies, causing the speakers to spit when turned up loud. But otherwise its powerful performance makes the ProCinema 600 money well spent, particularly when you consider its solid build quality and living-room-friendly design.
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This sleek and beautifully built compact system uses innovative driver technology to produce powerful, impressive sound from diminutive cabinets.