- Review Price: £619.00
Teufel is best known for its speaker systems, but it also dabbles in the odd disc player here and there, primarily as part of its Impaq all-in-one home cinema systems. This year the company is turning its attention to hi-def with the launch of its first ever Blu-ray system, the Impaq 3000, a great-looking if pricey 5.1 affair. Let’s see how it shapes up.
Although Teufel has been known to shake things up every now and then, the Impaq 3000 is a fairly conventional proposition. In the box is a Blu-ray player/receiver unit (IP 3000 BR) that musters 600W of sonic muscle, as well as four IP 3000 FR satellite speakers, an IP 3000 C centre speaker and the IP 3000 SW subwoofer.
Unsurprisingly the Blu-ray unit is extremely well built in a sturdy metal casing and has a generally ‘grown up’ look about it. The moody black fascia is devoid of blue lights but is lent a little bit of glitz by the row of touch-sensitive buttons. It’s certainly attractive but in an esoteric, understated way.
Around the back there’s a generous array of sockets, offering everything you need for Blu-ray playback and for piping external kit through the system. First up is an HDMI output, which sadly doesn’t deliver 3D pictures to your telly but supports all the other stuff like Deep Colour and 1080/24p. You also get two HDMI inputs, which is a real bonus if you want to listen to games consoles or your Sky box in surround sound without having to rig up a separate digital cable – it also means you can use the Teufel as a switcher if you have limited HDMI inputs on your TV.
If two HDMIs don’t meet all of your audio needs then you’ll also find two digital audio inputs and three sets of analogue stereo inputs. These are joined by component, composite and analogue stereo outputs and an Ethernet port for BD Live access. All of the speaker terminals are springclips, which is a little disappointing for such a pricey product but the colour-coding helps you rig up the speakers quickly. Completing the line-up are aerial inputs for the FM and AM tuners.
The IP 3000 FR speakers are reminiscent of those from the Consono 25 system we reviewed recently, except with their dual 80mm woofers sandwiching a 19mm tweeter they’re more like the Consono 35’s speakers. We love the deep gloss black finish and the gently curved baffle and sides, plus the grille is removable if you like those drivers to be out on show.
The IP 3000 C centre speaker is just an FR turned on its side and nestles in the supplied cradle, while the IP 3000 SW subwoofer is a passive bass box with springclip cable terminals on the back. It’s a suave-looking unit, with a gloss black finish and alluringly curvy moulded plastic around the front port.
The Impaq 3000 doesn’t offer the sort of all-encompassing feature list you’d expect for north of £600. For starters, there’s no networking functionality, which is found on almost all of the Teufel’s rivals, most of whom offer it at a much cheaper price too.
You do get a USB port for playing back media from memory devices, which is found under a flap on the right-hand side of the fascia next to the headphone port. Using the USB port you can play back MP3, WMA, JPEG, WMV HD, XviD and DivX HD files, which is a good selection.
So what else is there to get excited about? Well, the receiver can decode all of the Blu-ray HD audio formats, plus it can upscale DVDs to 1080p – but then so can every other Blu-ray system on the market. Elsewhere there’s Dolby Pro Logic II processing and a few audio tweaks to tailor the sound to your liking, such as Tone Control, distance/level settings for each channel and a separate subwoofer setting ranging from -10 to +10. You can use the built-in test tone to check your settings.
Using the Impaq 3000 is a piece of cake. There’s an attractive-looking main menu, the same one as we encountered on the Marantz Melody Movie in fact. It sports an intuitive layout, moving smoothly from left to right across the screen and reacting quickly to button presses. The key settings are easy to find, while the Audio Settings mentioned above are controlled on the unit’s front panel, which sounds disjointed but actually makes it easier to fiddle with them during playback.
Aside from the familiar main menu, elements of the Impaq 3000 are reminiscent of Samsung’s systems from a couple of years ago – the connections and remote are very similar. That’s not a bad thing, and if this is a Samsung in disguise, Teufel could have chosen a lot worse.
Significantly, the Impaq 3000 system sounds better than the Consono 25 system, with a little more oomph supplied by the extra woofer in the satellites. They handle the astonishing action scenes in ”Inception” on Blu-ray with invigorating energy and expansiveness, most notably as the building crumbles to the ground towards the start of the movie. The sound of rubble hitting the ground is deep and impactful, while the waves of water flood the soundstage with a crisp powerful whoosh without greatly troubling the speakers at high volumes.
Dialogue is clear and the surround speakers do a good job of projecting the sound into the room. Only the staunchest audiophiles would listen to this system and not find something to enjoy.
That said, despite our positive first impressions, the system’s performance still doesn’t have the stamp of Teufel quality that we expected. The sound isn’t quite as airy or incisive as we hoped, it occasionally sounds harsh and the subwoofer is too overpowering out-of-the-box – even after turning the level right down to find a more harmonious balance, it wasn’t quite the tight and punchy foundation we were hoping for. Nothing serious, but not up to Teufel’s usual standards.
There can be no complaints about picture quality though. With Blu-ray, the Impaq 3000 produces sharp detail, lavishly saturated colours and a cinematic depth that makes films look like films, not watercolour paintings. It also manages to make upscaled DVD pictures look clean and punchy without introducing many artefacts. It does, however, like to have a long hard think while loading Blu-ray discs – ”Terminator Salvation” took close to a minute to load.
As much as we love its build quality and AV performance, which despite its shortcomings is still a cut above the vast majority of cheaper Blu-ray systems, the Impaq 3000 feels like a relic from another time, when 3D was only watched in the cinema and networking was just something you did at parties. The USB port and decent format support are pleasing, as are the ease of use and plentiful connections, but those with an eye for a bargain can get a lot more for their money elsewhere.
Score in detail
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.