- Review Price: £2899.00
Like Crystal Acoustics, Teufel sells its products directly from its website. With fewer overheads and no middleman taking a cut, the company can pass on the savings to its customers, which means you can get a high-end speaker system like this a lot more cheaply than you would on the high street.
Of course, buying directly online means you can’t audition them first, but to get round this, Teufel offers an eight-week ‘test listening’ period – if you’re not happy after that, they’ll collect them and give you a full refund.
Great news indeed, but no-one in their right mind could feel short-changed after hauling these bad boys out of the box. Each of the six speakers is built like a tank and reassuringly heavy – all the better for blasting out those movie soundtracks at ungodly volumes – but then we’ve come to expect nothing less from Teufel.
That said, if it’s discretion you’re after look elsewhere. The system’s chunky, angular cabinets scream ‘look at me’ and despite their smaller-than-usual size they’re still too big to plonk discreetly on a bookshelf. Thankfully they’re styled in a gorgeous piano black finish that’s so glossy and lustrous you can see your face in it.
(centre)”’ One of the three S 800 FCR speakers”’(/centre)
The system comprises three identical S 800 FCR speakers for the front and centre channels, a pair of S 800 D dipole speakers on rear channel duties and a S 8000 W active subwoofer, which is so big it makes Crystal Acoustics’ sub look like a matchbox. God help the people in the flat below.
Inside the S 800 FCR’s robust cabinet (which measures 195 x 455 x 245mm) is a trio of flat diaphragm drivers – two 130mm woofers and an 80mm bass/midrange driver – plus a 25mm silk dome tweeter designed to handle high-frequency detail at loud volumes, as required by THX Ultra 2.
Each one has a removable cover that fits over the entire front panel without the need for screws, but the aluminium trim that frames the drivers underneath looks so good you’ll probably want to leave them off. On the back you’ll find a pair of gold-plated binding posts and holes for wall mounting, while the bottom sports screw holes for the optional AC 2002 SP stands, which we recommend.
The S 800 D rears are a dipole design, which is THX’s recommended way of presenting surround sound. They’re designed to be mounted on the wall, and for that reason you’ll find a sturdy bracket on the back and two rods at the bottom that keep the cabinet at the right distance from the wall.
(centre)”’The dipole design S 800 D rear speakers, fully clothed”’(/centre)
On the back of the speaker facing the wall is a 130mm carbon fibre woofer that’ll give rear effects some low-frequency depth, while on either side are a 100mm midrange driver and 25mm dome tweeter. The sound reflects off the walls, making it unclear where effects are emanating from, resulting in an open, enveloping ambience.
(centre)”’The S 800 D speakers, undressed”’(/centre)
Not only is the S 8000 SW one of the largest subwoofers we’ve seen, but it’s also unique in its ability to meet the THX Ultra 2 specifications using a single 300mm bass driver. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the casing is two-thirds smaller than its Theater 8 predecessor. The key is low distortion and high efficiency, which enables the 500W amplifier to reach the required levels set out by THX and to easily fill a room of up to 100 square metres.
(centre)”’The big S 8000 SW subwoofer meets the THX Ultra 2 spec”’(/centre)
If you can’t find a corner for this massive subwoofer then it’ll make a cracking coffee table with its stunning gloss black finish. Alongside the fins and bass reflex openings on the rear panel is a frequency knob to set the crossover point between 40Hz and 240Hz, plus a range of connections including phono in/out and four sets of speaker terminals. On the front is an aluminium panel embedded with LEDs that indicate the sub’s status, while the supplied remote lets you switch the phase and activate the THX setting.
Onto performance and given its killer specs and THX Ultra 2 badge, the System 8’s incredible performance comes as even less of a surprise than England’s early departure from South Africa. This is almost as good as home cinema gets – playing ”Hellboy II’s” ferocious Blu-ray battle with the Elemental (one of our favourite scenes as regular readers will know) will make your hair stand on end with its immense power and awe-inspiring sense of scale.
The fronts and centre make a formidable trio. Perfectly matched and working with stunning congruity, they create a front-room soundstage as crisp and expansive as we’ve heard. Such is the richness and clarity of speech that it sounds like the characters are in the room, while smashing cars and gunshots snap from the speakers with invigorating force. During quiet scenes the S 800 FCRs tease out subtle details with a deftness of touch missing from many a budget speaker.
The rear dipoles fill the rear of the room beautifully and although they’re not being fired directly at you, spot effects are sharp and detailed. These speakers’ most impressive quality however is the warmth and richness they lend to ambient soundscapes, all thanks to that bassy woofer.
The engine room of this exceptional performance is the subwoofer. Low frequencies are every bit as muscular as you’d expect, but they’re conveyed with pleasing tautness and agility. The Elemental’s thumping footsteps are eminently powerful.
So a stunning performance then, but the only slight negative is that it’s not quite the quantum leap up in quality from the much cheaper Crystal Acoustics TX-T2-12 as we expected. Having spent time in the company of both this week, it’s clear that the Teufel is the better of the two with its greater power and presence, but we don’t see that it’s £1,600 better. That probably says more about the quality of the TX-T2-12 than anything.
Anyone with £3k to splash on speakers would do well to take the System 8 THX Ultra 2 for an eight-week test drive – with its unbelievable sound quality, classy looks and uncompromising build quality, we reckon the phones in Teufel’s refunds department will stay pretty quiet.
That said, be sure to check out some of the cheaper competition too, just to be sure in your own mind that it really is worth paying the extra premium for that THX Ultra 2 certification. We’re not entirely convinced, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the System 8 THX Ultra 2 is an astoundingly good system.
Score in detail