Crystal Audio TX-T2-12 Review
- Review Price: £1299.00
The TX-T2-12 is a 5.1-channel system with THX certification, which means it satisfies a list of requirements that’ll get the best-possible performance from your system. The front speakers boast THX Ultra 2 certification, which is THX’s top honour and suggests they’re capable of some pretty special movie playback. The rears, centre and subwoofer are THX Select certified, which has a less demanding but equally strict set of requirements.
As well as knockout sound performance, you should expect nothing short of rock-solid build quality when spending over £1,000 on a speaker system, and that’s exactly what you get. Fondling each speaker reveals impeccable construction and elegant, understated looks. Tasteful use of high gloss and black ash across the entire system makes them a stylish presence in the room without sticking out like a sore thumb. All of the speakers come with a sturdy removable grille that fits snugly into holes on the front. The only downside of their substantial build quality is that you need two people to haul some of them out of the boxes.
(centre)”’The solid TX-T2SE floorstanding front speakers, topped with a tweeter”’(/centre)
At the heart of the system is a pair of THX Ultra 2-certified TX-T2SE front floorstanders, worth £549 a pair when bought separately. These are a re-tweaked version of Crystal Audio’s original TX-T2 speakers, using a shorter cabinet and increased volume. Despite being shorter they’re still remarkably deep, which enables them to deliver gut-wrenching low frequencies, plus the cabinets have been heavily braced to create an ‘acoustically dead’ enclosure that helps convey soundtracks as cleanly and dynamically as possible.
(centre)”’The webcam-like ‘free air’ tweeter”’(/centre)
The most distinctive design aspect of the front speakers is the ‘free air’ tweeter, which sits on top of each cabinet and looks like a webcam. The benefit of placing it on top is to deliver high frequencies directly to your ears without unwanted diffraction, and the clever part is that you can rotate them to find the best angle according to your listening position. It’s an interesting idea, but plonking those little spheres on such big cabinets does look a bit odd.
Elsewhere in the line-up is a £269 pair of THX-Dipole rear speakers. Their dipole design means they output sound from both sides of the cabinet, offering a more diffuse, enveloping surround performance than direct radiating speakers. Ideally, they should be mounted on the wall so that sound can radiate along it and make you feel truly surrounded.
(centre)”’The THX-D dipoles – designed to envelope you with audio”’(/centre)
The THX-Dipoles feature two reverse-facing silk dome tweeters and a 7in Crystal Fibre woofer, achieving a frequency response from 45Hz up to 22kHz. They also include electronic protection for the tweeters to prevent damage when listening at high volumes. And like all of the speakers in the system, there’s a pair of gold-plated binding posts on the back (the front pair boast two pairs for bi-wiring purposes).
(centre)”’Doubt you’ll squeeze the THX-CT centre speaker under your TV!”’(/centre)
On crucial dialogue duties is the THX-Centre Speaker (loving Crystal’s imaginative model names) which is THX Select certified and costs £149 when bought separately. It’s acoustically matched to the other speakers in the system and as such features the same Crystal Fibre woofer and free air tweeter. At 550 x 215 x 162mm it’s on the large side, so don’t expect to squeeze it into a tight space under your TV – this is a centre speaker for dedicated cinema rooms only.
(centre)”’The system’s THX-12SUB subwoofer is a biggun”’(/centre)
The subwoofer of choice is the £399 THX-12SUB, an absolute beast of a bass box that looks loud, never mind how it sounds. Despite its imposing dimensions (441mm high, 470mm deep) and back-breaking weight, the high gloss/black ash works a treat and makes it surprisingly stylish, particularly with the grille fitted. On the back is a volume dial, phase reverse switch and another switch that lets you alternate between THX Select and Variable modes.
On the inside is a mighty 200W amplifier and a 30.5cm long throw driver, which incorporates a light treated paper cone. Its THX Select certification means it’s primed for medium sized rooms up to 2,000 cubic feet in size with a listening distance of 10 to 12 feet from the screen, while its frequency range is quoted at 20 to 350Hz.
So the TX-T2-12 system looks pretty special on paper, but real world listening is a different kettle of fish. Thankfully it delivers on the spec sheet’s promises, producing a sound that’s simply sublime. Having tested a few budget all-in-one systems recently, it’s a refreshing change to hear a high-quality set of speakers going to work on the ”Avatar” Blu-ray, which really highlights the benefits of spending this sort of money on dedicated home cinema speakers.
Skipping straight to ”Avatar’s” Battle For Pandora, the TX-T2-12 conveys the thrilling action with a wonderful sense of scale and immense power. As the Na’vi cavalry charges forward, the fierce-yet-agile sub musters taut, visceral bass tones – you don’t need to turn that volume dial very high to make an impact.
There’s an overall richness, fluidity and cohesion across the entire system that makes it hard to tear yourself away. Equally compelling is the crisp high-frequency reproduction, with the front and rear speakers picking out every last detail in the soundtrack, from the delicate crunch of forest leaves to half-heard background chatter in the control room. They may look strange but those free air tweeters clearly do a great job.
The natural bass extension of the front speakers is also impressive. We turned off the sub and there’s still plenty of low-end punch. The dipoles offer gorgeous, immersive surround sound, spreading effects and ambience around the room like butter on toast. Some may prefer their effects with more directional precision, but we think these dipoles’ diffuse sound is perfect for home cinema. Meanwhile the centre speaker reproduces dialogue with warmth and directness, clearly cutting though even the busiest of ”Avatar’s” action scenes.
And if you’re used to hearing music through an iPod dock or crappy kitchen hi-fi, get ready for a revelation when you play it through these speakers. Whether it’s Blu-ray or CD, they’ll shed a whole new light on your favourite songs, exposing details that you never knew were there but with wonderful warmth and a perfect sense of rhythm. Outstanding.
Although £1,299 might seem like a lot of money, in the world of audiophile speakers it’s fairly affordable – particularly for a THX certified system. And as we’ve discovered with the TX-T2-12, its performance is so good that it could have come from a much more expensive system, which makes it a real bargain in our eyes. The stunning build quality, unusual-but-effective tweeter technology and stylish looks are further reasons why we think it’s money well-spent.
Score in detail