posted on Tuesday, 8th November 2011 by Steve May
SpeakerCraft is best known to the CI trade as a proponent of architectural speakers and infrastructure technologies. But in an interested product line development, the brand has moved back into the open, with its premium RooTs take-away speaker packages. The company began life as a Hi-fi dealer back in the Seventies, designing the first in-wall speaker, and this new line is named in homage to its past.
The most immediately appealing thing about the RooTs line is its design. In terms of both aesthetics and build, they're class leading. The speakers are available in gloss black or white. Fingerprints are inevitable.
Inside CI was given exclusive access to the first samples to hit the UK. Our system comprised four 450 satellites, a CC centre and the top-of-the-line 310 subwoofer. The brand is also offering 350 and 650 satellites (which have 3.5 and 6.5inch woofers respectively), and a smaller sub, the 280. The set reviewed here retails for £2,450, so this is not a system designed to compete in the mass market.
The star of the show proved to be the RooTs sub. A ported design with a 300w digital powerplant and 10inch driver, the 310 goes deep (measured down to 30Hz) and loud.
It's versatile too. Connections comprise a pair of phono line inputs with a loopthrough to daisy chain more (surely only really necessary in larger rooms or theatres?). There are also speaker level connections with high-grade binding posts, for those without an LFE feed. This can be used in conjunction with a 12v trigger for simple system control.
A small remote control is supplied, which has three user definable presets; typically you might set one level for movie watching, another for music and a third for late night listening. One option these presets offer is that specific IR commands can be added to a system control macro, which is a nice touch.
The L/R/RL/RR 450s feature a 38.1mm paper cone woofer and 19mm silk dome tweeter, and can be wall, shelf or stand mounted. The dedicated CC centre is a larger horizontal design and features two 38.1mm woofers separated by the same silk dome tweeter. All the RooTs boxes have detachable grilles, but frankly look better with them on.
In a standard five point one configuration, the system works well. Tonally matched, audio pans front and back are pleasingly seamless. When it comes to action movies, the set is fast and exciting.
Although the package looks like a standard sub/sat offering, the 450s are actually full-range designs. Ported, they go down to 50Hz. The sub has an adjustable crossover between 40Hz to 200Hz (choose 80-100Hz for the best results), and also offers Boundary Gain Compensation (from -10dB to +10dB).
Midway through the fantasy action movie Sucker Punch (Blu-ray) I began to think the 310, with its 10inch pressure-loader was probably overkill, and that the 8inch 280 would have done a more socially responsible job. But then Sucker Punch does have a particularly manic LFE track - and I didn't hear anybody complaining.
Care should be taken setting up the 450s, as they can sound a little toppy. If I were a match-maker, I'd look to partner these babies with some luke-warm amplification capable of serious grunt.
It's reassuring to see Speakercraft, a brand that's been so influential on the US custom installation scene, expand back into traditional enclosures. Although ferociously expensive, these beautiful looking boxes with a surprisingly European aesthetic should be considered a welcome addition to the UK loudspeaker scene.
For more click here.
RooTs UK pricing (VAT inc)
Roots Centre Channel - £350 each
Roots 350 - £400 pair
Roots 450 - £525 pair
Roots 650 - £725 pair
Roots 208 Subwoofer - £900 each
Roots 310 Subwoofer - £1050 each
Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics
industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.