Audica's new CS1 System makes a great alternative to placing five individual satellite speakers around the room. It utilises just three speaker units plus a subwoofer and, with its unique styling and build quality, will undoubtedly turn a few heads.
The main talking point of the CS1 is its innovative CS-LCR main speaker. At 80cm wide, this shapely unit combines centre, front left and right speaker duties in one. Its elegant, slimline styling and anodised titanium finish are easy on the eye (it's also available finished in anodised carbon black), and it makes the ideal partner for today's super-stylish flatscreen TVs - it can even be wall-mounted above or below the screen.
The CS-SAT rear satellite speakers follow the same design lines. Their elegant looks make them perfect for discreet installations at the back of the room, and they can also be wall-mounted via the supplied speaker brackets.
Given the package's very reasonable price, the CS-SUB8 subwoofer is manufactured to an exceptional standard. It's cubeshaped, finished with smoothly rounded corners, and comes with a useful set of level and crossover controls at the back to help integrate its performance with the package and its surroundings.
The Audica is well thought out, even down to its connections. It comes supplied with high-quality cables for connection to a surround sound amplifier, while speaker connections are substantial screw-type terminals.
Happily the CS1's beauty is more than skin deep, and it gives a very impressive sonic performance. Its full and rich sound is evident from the moment you spin a movie or music disc into action...
The CS-LCR unit, when placed at the front of the listening area, creates a surprisingly wide soundstage by cleverly directing sounds towards the side of the room - making effects appear as though they are coming from invisible speakers placed either side of the screen. And as you would expect from a model that incorporates stereo speakers inside one main unit, its imagery is very good.
Sounds are anchored to the centre of the screen, while also providing a decent sense of space and depth to the soundstage around the room. This solid surround sound is ably supported by the CS-SUB8 subwoofer. It gives a powerful performance that adds bags of oomph to both movie and music soundtracks, and it really helped to bring the events of our The Return of the Jedi DVD to life.
The Audica is not completely beyond reproach however. The subwoofer can at times be over-enthusiastic, and requires careful integration to get the best balance for movie and music sound. But time spent experimenting with its positioning within a room reaps sonic dividends.
The Audica CS1 System is a desirably streamline alternative to a five-speaker surround sound package, and an ideal partner for a flatscreen TV. And despite incorporating all the front speakers into one elegant cabinet, it gives a performance to take on bigger, full-range speaker systems. The Audica name may be new to most of us, but it's one we want to hear more from...