Canada's Energy Speaker Systems was hardly the first company to tap the potential of the tiny-speaker market, but its original Take 5 system was a smash hit back in 1997. The goals for this updated model, the Take 5.2, were straightforward: the new satellites had to sound great, as well as play louder and put out more bass than the majority of munchkin speakers. In most ways, this little system succeeds. Energy recommends that you pair the $600 (list) Take 5.2 system with its $300 (list) S8.2 subwoofer, so that's the setup that we used for this review. The original Take 5's cosmetics were boxy and boring; we much prefer the Take 5.2's new shape. The sats' softly rounded grilles protrude slightly, almost as if the drivers' hemispherical sound waves have deformed them--a cool look.
The Take 5.2 system includes four Take 2.2 satellites and one Take 1.2 center-channel speaker. The sats measure a scant 6.75 inches tall, and the Take 1.2 speaker--which has the standard horizontal shape but sports two woofers instead of one--is just 4 inches high and 11 inches wide.
Energy offers nifty Take 2.2 all-metal floor stands for $75 per pair. The stands' three vertical pole sections--two 16-inchers and one 13-incher--can be assembled in a range of heights from 17 to 46 inches (the base adds 1 inch to the height). The top of the stand tilts so that you can aim the speakers up or down a few degrees. Energy's engineers designed the new models from the ground up. Available in gloss-black or white, the satellites and the center speaker feature molded-plastic front and rear baffles, as well as microdensity-fiberboard cabinetry. A new injection-molded, homopolymer-aluminum, 3.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch, laminated, aluminum-dome tweeter make up the driver complement. Energy throws in an integrated wall-mounting bracket with each speaker. While the Take 2.2 sats output a bit more bass than many tiny speakers and could be used on their own in very small rooms, we imagine that most owners will partner them with a subwoofer. We took the obvious course and used Energy's brawny little subwoofer, the S8.2. The entire system was remarkably unfussy about speaker positioning, and the sub/sat blend was excellent.
First up, we played a DVD-Audio remastering of Donald Fagen's The Nightfly. The Take 5.2's flat tonal balance added an attractive solidity to this funky, jazz-tinged music. We next unfurled the joyful noise on Wynton Marsalis's big-band track from the Sessions at West 54th DVD. The expansive sound grabbed us--until we noticed that the brass section was too mellifluous. We wished that the system had a bit more bite and airy extension, like Polk Audio's excellent RM6700.
When we subjected the Take 5.2 system to a full-tilt blast of the venerable U-571 DVD, we detected some strain and coarseness in the sound. At more moderate levels, the audio was quite good, but if you really want to feel the noise--or you have a large room--we'd recommend something along the lines of the Klipsch's Synergy 6 or Quintet II systems. Those two packages can summon up more freewheeling dynamics. On the plus side, we did feel that the Energy Take 5.2 was equally adept with CDs and DVDs.