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Verity Audio Tamino v2 and h2

November 1, 2006 By Brent Butterworth

The ultimate statement of simple design is the Parsons table—a piece of furniture whose legs are of the same girth as its top, and whose height equals its width and depth. I have never seen a speaker as austere as a Parsons table, but Verity Audio's Tamino v2 and h2 on-wall speakers come close.

Although it seems a shame to conceal the Taminos' simple, spare design, the speakers do come with grilles. (Click image to enlarge)

The v2 and h2, like most on-walls, are available in silver, and they're about the same depth as a typical flat-panel TV. But there the pandering to plasma ends. The v2 and h2 are wide and boxy, their bulk occurring mainly because they're built from thick medium-density fiberboard (MDF) instead of thin aluminum. Aluminum has a tendency to ring unless it is especially well-braced; MDF, in comparison, is much better-damped and less likely to produce sound-distorting vibrations of its own.

The speakers' simplicity extends to their internal technology. The v2 and h2 are two-way designs, with just one woofer and one tweeter per speaker—the same simple driver complement found in the two-way minispeakers so many audiophiles love. Here's what tells me Verity Audio is serious about this speaker: The company created a dedicated version (the h2) for use in the center channel of a surround-sound system. Verity's engineers rotated the woofer/tweeter array 90 degrees for the center speaker, so the tweeter remains atop the woofer, where it's supposed to be. Some speaker companies would not bother creating a dedicated center speaker. They would suggest merely using one of their vertically oriented speakers and rotating it 90 degrees—and they would pretend that it makes no difference in the sound.

But it does make a difference. Two drivers stacked vertically produce pretty much the same sound as you move your head from side to side. But the sound differs markedly as you move your head up and down because the drivers interfere with each other acoustically. So when a tweeter is positioned above or below a woofer, the sound is essentially the same from one end of your couch to the other. If you flip the woofer/tweeter array on its side, the sound at one end of the couch will probably differ radically from the sound at the other end. By preserving the vertical orientation of its woofer/tweeter array, Verity Audio lost a bit of profit margin, but ensured you the best possible sound. Give 'em a hand!

An appealing liveliness strikes me the moment I fire up the system. I have heard the diva scene from The Fifth Element thousands of times because I play it through every speaker system I evaluate. Through the Tamino h2/v2 system, this familiar clip takes on new life. The system seems to transport my listening chair into the action—my walls vanish, and my room becomes almost like the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I am used to hearing distinct sonic images between the front left, center, and right speakers; now I hear them between left front and left surround, and right front and right surround. The sound is extremely entertaining. The one downside is that due to a protection circuit built into the speakers, the sound can get a little bright if you really crank it up.

The center speaker is designed as a two-way, woofer/tweeter center should be—with the tweeter and the woofer stacked vertically to get the most even horizontal dispersion. (Click image to enlarge)

I experience the same incredible ambience and detail with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and all the other movies I watch. The h2 and v2 are like sonic microscopes, revealing the subtlest details in every soundtrack—including the flaws. I notice for the first time that the quality of Sir Ian McKellen's voice changes a bit depending on the scene, probably because a few scenes used live audio instead of replacing it with a voice-over in the studio.

The Taminos' vivacity extends to my stereo listening. Instruments seem to break free from the wall of my room and hover in front of and between the speakers. Audiophile recordings, like the 10 Best: Home Entertainment Editors Pick the Best of Chesky Records CD (available through www.chesky.com), sound spacious and enveloping—and extraordinarily live. Occasionally, I hear a slight brightness, which manifests itself as an overemphasis of percussion instruments like shakers and cymbals. I find I can even use the h2 and v2 without a subwoofer; the bass is not as well-defined or deep as what a good sub delivers, but still, it's full and satisfying.

Few people would wish for better sound than the Tamino h2 and v2 deliver, but those who do can opt for the Tamino x2, a small, $4,995-per-pair tower speaker that uses exactly the same drivers as the h2 and v2. There's even a short, squat center tower speaker, the Tamino Center. Of course, there are plenty of good high-end tower speakers you can buy, but few manufacturers offer on-wall speakers to match them.

I know some homeowners and interior designers will find the Tamino v2 and h2 too bulky, but those who appreciate the simplicity and elegance of its design will be rewarded with stunning sound quality. Seek out your Verity Audio dealer and give these wonderful speakers a whirl.

The woofer and tweeter used in the v2 (shown here) and h2 are the same as those used in Verity's $4,995-per-pair x2 tower speaker. (Click image to enlarge)

On-wall speaker system. Vertical model for left/right/surround channels, horizontal model for center channel. Subwoofer recommended

0.75-inch silk-dome tweeter, 6.5-inch TPX poly-cone woofer

Gold-plated screw terminals; accepts spade connectors or bare wire

Tamino v2: 24 x 11 x 5.1 inches (hwd, with grille)
Tamino h2: 11 x 24 x 5.1 inches (hwd, with grille)

PRICE: Piano black $1,795 each, gloss silver $1,995 each. Satin finish available by custom order
CONTACT: 617.314.9296, www.verityaudio.com


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