Teufel System 9 THX Ultra 2 Speakers Review
The System 9 is the latest in a series of THX-certified speaker systems from Teufel, the German company that has recently started selling its wares to UK consumers via its website. As the very first European company to launch speakers using the THX licence, Teufel really knows its onions in this field, demonstrated by the success of the Theater 8 – regarded by Germany’s home cinema cognoscenti as one of the best reference speaker systems around.
However, Teufel has upped the stakes with the System 9, packing the speakers full of the most advanced audio electronics and building them from luxurious, elegant materials. In fact, the company proudly proclaims this to be ‘the best THX speaker system of all time’ which is quite a boast.
The System 9 is THX Ultra2 certified, which means it’s designed to meet the most rigorous worldwide standard for sound reproduction. This particular certification is reserved for high-end home cinema products designed for large cinema rooms of 3,000 cubic feet with a 12ft viewing distance, and the System 9 earns its corn with its ability to fill a room of up to 100m².
The system is available in a number of configurations including the ‘Cinema Set 5.1′, which comprises three M 950 FCR speakers (which act as the front and centre channels), two M 950 D dipole rear speakers and a colossal M 9500 SW subwoofer, which weighs just over 65kg!
(centre)”’The M 950 FCR speakers”’(/centre)
You can also buy the ‘Cinema-Set 7.1′, which adds two extra M 950 FCRs to act as the surround back channels, or the Concert-Set 5.1′ package made up of five M 950 FCR speakers and the sub. Alternatively, you can buy a 7.1 upgrade (two M 950s) or buy any of the speakers separately.
As soon as you unpack the system from the boxes, you can instantly see and feel where your money’s going. All of the speakers are robustly constructed and beautifully finished in a combination of brushed aluminium and high gloss black, with the M 950 FCRs’ visible flat diaphragm chassis and cloth dome tweeters giving them a distinctive, modern look – although their big boxy shape is too imposing for a typical living room environment. You can also buy stands for these speakers that have silver poles and a gloss black foot. They’re a pain to put together but the resulting look is worth the effort.
The M 950 FCRs contain a tweeter and midrange module flanked by two 165mm woofers enclosed in a concave surround. The central module, encased in an aluminium column, features a 25mm tweeter in the centre with 80mm midrange drivers above and below (the D’Appollito configuration). Significantly, these midrange cones are flat, which is said to offer perfect radiating characteristics throughout the entire frequency range without distortion.
(centre)”’The M 950 D dipole speakers”’(/centre)
The trapezoidal M 950 D dipole speakers are similarly well-built and feature two opposing 130mm cone drivers (plus two 25mm tweeters) which direct the sound along the walls, ceiling and floor to create a diffuse, expansive sound field, just like in a real cinema. They can be wall-mounted, and the tapered baffles make them sit more naturally against the wall. On the back is a switch that enables you to choose between bipole, dipole (the THX setting) or monopole.
As for the M 9500 SW woofer, it uses two 300mm bass drivers and a 1,200W power amplifier, plus it can reproduce frequencies down to 20Hz. It shares the same jazzy design as the other speakers and at 95cm high it’s taller than your average sub because the drivers are arranged vertically. However, this also makes the cabinet narrower than previous Teufel subs and this radical new design works a treat.
(centre)”’The massive 65kg M 9500 SW subwoofer”’(/centre)
Although we weren’t quite able to find a 100m² room to test out its true room-filling power, the System 9 still offers a sensational performance in our more modest surroundings. Driven by an Onkyo TX-NR906 receiver, itself THX Ultra2 Plus certified, the speakers produce absolutely sensational sound quality with both music and films.
We started out with ”The Dark Knight’s” Blu-ray Dolby TrueHD track bitstreamed from a Samsung BD-P1500, and what jumped out first is how punchy the system sounds, effortlessly amplifying the excitement of this movie’s pulsating soundtrack. The speed, coherence and attack of the M 950 FCRs is utterly entrancing and their delivery is fierce but not fatiguing, making this a system that you could listen to all day without getting bored.
The sound is also smooth and refined, sweeping through the entire sonic spectrum with an effortlessness that borders on nonchalance. But despite delivering the level of accuracy and neutrality you’d expect from a high-end speaker system, the sound is far from alienating – it still offers enough soul and character to get you emotionally involved in what you’re watching.
(centre)”’Left to right: M 950 FCR speaker, M 9500 SW subwoofer, M 950 D dipole rear speaker”’(/centre)
During noisy scenes like the explosive car chase through Gotham City, the system grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go, immersing you in an amazingly expansive but confidently controlled soundstage. The rears do a fantastic job with the frenetic effects, delivering them with precision and sharpness without pinning them down to a particular location, while dialogue is communicated from the centre speaker with pleasing directness.
Detail retrieval is another of the system’s big plus points – ”The Dark Knight’s” quiet moments allow the System 9 to revel in the delicate background sounds and ambience, conveying every noise with pin-sharp clarity.
But the icing on the cake is at the bottom end, where the M 9500 SW belts out bass with frightening strength and conviction. To call it punchy would be an understatement – it’s more like receiving a right hook from Ricky Hatton, particularly when listening to ”The Dark Knight’s” deep and full-bodied explosions. Your neighbours will love you.
Music playback is also superb. The system demonstrates terrific timing and drive when sinking its chops into the hip-hop beats of Q-Tip’s ”The Renaissance”, but with our gentler Japanese jazz DVD-Audio disc it conveys the live instruments with soothing smoothness and plenty of detail. The sub also plays a key role, displaying admirable agility for such a big lad – a bit like Emile Heskey.
With a price tag well over £3k, the System 9 is squarely aimed at the audiophile elite, but if you can afford it you won’t be disappointed. It oozes class from every pore with amazing build quality and an attractive (if not exactly subtle) design, but most importantly it makes movies and music sound divine.
Score in detail