Wood-Grained Beauty Is Skin Deep
The Level Three system consists of four, large two-way satellite speakers, an even bigger center channel, and a beefy, 12-inch, front-firing powered subwoofer. The 15.8-inch satellites each have a 6.5-inch midrange driver inside and a 1-inch silk dome tweeter. The center channel has two midrange drivers and a single tweeter; its 22-inch width, 9.5-inch depth, and 22.3-pound weight demand a separate shelf above or below your TV set, as trying to balance its bulk atop a TV seems awfully precarious. Three of our review speakers had a nice midgloss black sheen, while the other two were painted dark cherry. Though the finish is much nicer than vinyl-wrapped speakers, they're not much to look at, especially sitting next to the Edge Audio speakers in our listening room.
The Level Three subwoofer's textured wood veneer looks like it belongs to another speaker system. You'll probably hide it in a corner of your living room, so style isn't the biggest concern anyway. On its back you'll find all the necessary connections, including line and speaker level inputs and outputs, crossover and volume knobs, and a phase switch.
Passing the Listening Test
Because the satellite speakers each have a bass port on the back and no predrilled mounting sockets, we placed them on stands. Setting the speaker levels and crossover frequency was effortless. The subwoofer and satellites blended well. However, when listening to a test tone panning around the room, we could easily hear the sonic differences between the front satellites and the center channel. We couldn't hear the difference as well with movies, but you might consider purchasing a fifth Level Three satellite instead of the center channel.
When we were watching movies, the Level Three speakers sounded very good, with dialogue coming through clearly over the music and surround effects. During the midair collision in Fight Club, the speakers handled the shifts in dynamics well; the swirl of debris was suitably realistic. In fact, we found very little not to like about these speakers during movies.