The growing demand for sound systems that match flatpanel TVs is having a dramatic impact on the speaker industry. Where once the choice facing buyers was simply between conventional floor standers or bookshelf designs, and diminutive sub/sats, now there's a whole new breed of slimline alternatives that typically look more like escapees from a TV factory than the products of specialist audio companies.
These Sequence Sonata loudspeakers are a case in point. The system reviewed here is intended primarily for wall mounting; it's been conceived to blend in with your décor, by dint of an unobtrusive cloth finish in a choice of black, beige or silver-grey.
The review system comprised three types of enclosure; a pair of the Model 300 speakers with optional floor plinths, a set of the Model 200 that came without floor plinths but can be used with them, an SW500 subwoofer and a single 200C for centre duties.
Each of the Sequence 200 surround speakers sports a single high-quality 25mm silk dome tweeter unit, mounted to one end of the box, with two more doped paper cone midbass drivers the same size as each other, mounted beneath (or alongside it, if the centre box). Not a traditional arrangement.
The ports are odd too, in that they all exit the skinny (74mm) flank side of the box. There are two ports with the front facing 300 series and one each on the 200C and 200 rears. Each speaker connects with a pair of gold-plated screw connectors that are best used with bared wires (this product is not about bi-wiring).
Also available, but not reviewed here, is the larger Sequence 400: a two-way, bass reflex loudspeaker system that features a substantial MDF cabinet and custom specified drive units.
The speakers arrive with their cloth bags closely fitted around them and there is a wood veneered block fitted into each end. One of these can be removed if it is not a centre enclosure, to reveal two locations where bolts can be fixed - which is how the plinths are fitted, as well as the terminals. If you opt to use the plinths, this end piece gets stored with your packaging.
The speaker's cubic capacity is sufficient for the drivers to reach down to a sensible 50Hz or 55Hz, which provides an easy transition to the active subwoofer. There is so little to see from the outside that the best way to tell which is the front face and which the reverse is the simple steel diamond shaped bracket. Screwed to the middle of the back face, these marry up to matching plates that you screw onto the wall. The two pieces of steel then dovetail to make a strong fixing.
Incidentally, the centre speaker is not magnetically shielded - although the 74mm thickness is just about enough to enable the centre to rest atop an old CRT-style TV, it's not recommended. Indeed, it pulled the colours all to hell on my resident Sony TV set. Of course, if you have already joined the flatpanel TV revolution, then this won't be a concern.
The matching subwoofer itself is a simple thing. A sealed box, with a 254mm paper cone and a 150w BASH technology amplifier, it has a 0-180º phase flip switch for taking the internal crossover's function in and out of use, an auto/on switch and knobs for both frequency and gain.
This Sequence Sonata system, as a whole, suffers slightly from its space restrictions - I have seen enclosures with comparably-sized drivers that have used a much, much larger cubic capacity to excite the room. The drivers here are striving to do their thing with less air to bounce against. The suspensions of the main drivers are all inverse rolls, which we are told is to reduce forwards excursion, or travel, of the cones. However, this does limit their output a little.
The dynamics are good but not vast; predictably these speakers don't quite tickle your innards the way bigger boxes can. That said, the sound is smooth and even, with a good spread across the frequency band; there is also a very clean melding with the subwoofer.
Overall, the sub is a nice unit and works well, even if it doesn't drop into the infrasonic zone. Despite an integrated amplifier of a 'mere' 150W, it can certainly generate some pleasing LF level in a smallish room. Setup is straightforward, thanks to the simple controls. The SW500 may not do the deepest stuff, but it keeps a melodic grip on the low end that is competent if not hooligan-grade satisfying.
This discrete collection works well as a lifestyle-centric speaker package and manages to both entertain as well as fade into the background when powered down. However, those looking for some visceral thrills may be under whelmed. Adam Rayner