Reviews

Review: Definitive Technology BP9000 – High-tech speakers with built-in subs

BP9000
The BP9000 loudspeakers from Definitive Technology can not be called an average. A bipolar driver setup, a built-in active subwoofer and Atmos compatibility are three things that excite every surround enthusiast. And then we have not discussed their appearance yet.

The BP9000 loudspeakers from Definitive Technology can not be called an average. A bipolar driver setup, a built-in active subwoofer and Atmos compatibility are three things that excite every surround enthusiast. And then we have not discussed their appearance yet.

Introduction Definitive Technology BP9000

Making the right choice for speakers for your home cinema is pretty difficult. There are just so many to choose from, especially if you consider other options such as wall mounting and built-in speakers in addition to freestanding passive speakers. The new BP9000 speakers make it all the more difficult, by offering you an alternative. From afar, these slender columns might seem like classic, loose speakers, albeit with a modern design. But they are certainly not classic or traditional. What they are, are purebred homecinemaspeakers that are very spectacular from the corner. And that has to do with their unique construction and some pretty separate choices from the manufacturer, Definitive Technology. If you do not know that brand, then you may not be an American (because in the U.S. DT is one of the largest loudspeaker vendors) and / or you may not be aware that the holding behind Definitive is the owner of Denon and Marantz. That is also the reason why speakers like this brand new BP9000 series come to our store. DT was quite absent in Europe for this.

In this test we look at different models from the BP9000 series from Definitive Technology: a large loudspeaker with integrated Dolby speaker for Dolby Atmos playback, the highest center speaker in the range, the CS9080 (1,999 euros / piece), and two BP9040 floor stands (999 euros / piece). The BP9040 does not contain a Dolby speaker like its biggest brother, but can be upgraded in a few seconds with an Atmos module (the A90, 579 euro / pair). It is so tight: push the rear edge of the aluminum top plate of the BP9040, so that it tilts upwards and a connector becomes visible. Pushes the A90 on and you’re done. The loudspeaker terminals for the A90 are located at the bottom of the back of the BP9040. For this test Sound United supplied two A90s, so we could prepare the two BP9040s completely Dolby Atmos. By the way, the height channels on the BP9000 Series are also compatible with DTS: X, only this type of reflective speakers is spoken of as a ‘Dolby speaker’. But DTS: X-content is also welcome.

If you want to build an arrangement in a smaller room, you may find it difficult to work with floorstanding posts for the rear channels. Good to know that the BP9000 series includes several other speakers, including a pair of two-pole loudspeakers (SR9080 of 399 euros / piece and SR9040 of 299 euros.stuk) that you can hang up and with which you can enjoy a surround and surround back in one go. channel. In this test also the CS9080c is involved, a sturdy center speaker of 1,199 euros. The total cost of the Definitive Technology BP9000 configuration that we look at in this test thus amounts to approximately 7,770 euros.

Slim and massive

Like the monkeys that are confronted with the black monolith in Kubricks ‘2001: Space Odessey’ , that’s how we feel a bit when we have dragged the BP9080x speakers out of their box and we take a seat in our listening chair. The speaker has a very thin profile of no 18 cm wide, which is even slimmer because the tower is 128 cm high. The monolistic feeling is enhanced by the finish. The speaker is over the entire length along the two sides and front covered with a black speaker fabric. The only element that draws the eye is an illuminated D logo. Disturbing? You switch off the light via a button on the back. At the center speaker just below the TV you will definitely want to do that.

On the BP9080x the Atmos speaker breaks the tone a bit because it is finished in a silver aluminum. The Dolby module at the top is covered with a fabric lid – no bag of coffee in places, please – which you can remove. Without looking tough, because then you look at the tweeter and midrange driver (equipped with a hard ‘mushroom’ waveguide that we know from the recent Definitive Technology Demand bookshelf speakers).

The 1-meter high BP9040 with A90 module is almost completely black. In a dark home cinema these speakers disappear completely into the background, in a bright living room they are then again quite present. The size and that threatening / erasing design make the BP9000 speakers controversial at least.

Partners who looked questionable when you unpacked these gigantic speakers, start to frown when you start to connect them. Since each speaker has its own active subwoofer, you must install a speaker cable to the receiver and provide a power cable. And that really for every speaker, also the rear channels and the center. If you are going for the BP9080x or a smaller model with the A90 module, a speaker cable will be added. Hopefully you can get rid of them all, otherwise something will swing.

Separate technology

There is very little conventional to the BP9000 speakers. Under the futuristic design is a lot of technology that may not be incredibly original, but that you do not often encounter. The purpose of the (most) BP9000 speakers is to be full-range, which is why they contain an active subwoofer that is supplemented with passive bass radiators in models such as the BP9080x. In a surround setup, even large speakers rarely operate over the entire frequency range, and a separate subwoofer takes over everything that is below 80 Hz. Not so with the BP9000s, which do not need an additional subwoofer. That is not a theoretical statement; during our test of these Definitive Technology speakers we missed our usual Monitor Audio sub for no time. Given that the BP9080x speakers each contain a 12 inch woofer, that is not surprising. On the CS9080 and BP9040 you will find an 8 inch woofer.

The second secret weapon of the BP9000 speakers is a bipolar array of midrange drivers and tweeters. Well, secret. Definitive Technology has been using this technology in their speakers for a number of years. In concrete terms: a trio of drivers is provided at the front and at the back. This speaker therefore deliberately fires the middle and high along the back as well – while most manufacturers try to avoid those wall reflections. The drivers on the back play much quieter than the front array. The idea is that this bipolar arrangement creates reflections, making the sound image more spacious. We may not have to tell you that placement is quite important in this approach. If the BP9000 speakers are far from the wall, for example, the effectiveness decreases rather quickly. We experienced this during testing with our rear-channels (a set of BP9040s) that initially were relatively absent in the surround sound. They were simply positioned so that the sound waves from that rear array could not reflect on anything.

Some more work for the setup

Each receiver can work with the BP9000 speakers, provided you are in the interface of the AV receiver can configure a surround setup without a separate subwoofer. That is usually the case. While using the Definitive Technology speakers in combination with the new Pioneer VSX-933 receiver, we discovered that the MCACC calibration system was confused by the reflections of the bipolar driver setup, which incorrectly estimated speaker distances. Then just pick up the laser meter and enter the distances manually. This is important, all the more if you add height channels to your surround setup. With the Pioneer receiver, we set up a pair of BP9080xs (with an integrated Dolby Atmos speaker) in front, with a CS9080 center speaker and two BP9040 rear speakers. A 5.0.2 set-up therefore.

It became even more impressive when we switched to our fixed Denon AVR-X6300H receiver and added two Dolby modules to the two BP9040- rear speakers, for a 5.0.4 setup. Going through the Audyssey measurement with its eight steps and so many speakers will take some time, but this time the measurement was perfect. Each BP9000 speaker has its own bass control, by means of a rotary knob on the back. Before you start measuring, you’re all fine.

In any case, you do not need the most powerful receiver in the world to control the BP9000 speakers. With sensitivities around 91-92 dB they do not put the amplifiers to the test.

Places you completely in a soundtrack

How do the BP9000 speakers sound? Sincerely different from a regular surround setup. Impressive in a way that we did not expect. The explanation for this lies in both the active sub in each speaker and the bipolar driver array.

Even an arrangement with a well integrated separate subwoofer may have to cope with basses that lead a life of their own. This is partly due to the fact that the one subwoofer has to support three to five speakers, including speakers in the back of the room that are a bit further away from the sub. When building home theaters, two subwoofers are sometimes used, also because you can bypass a room mode. However, each BP speaker has its own subwoofer and is therefore truly full-range, up to a fairly low frequency. And that creates a remarkably full and rich sound field where you really are in the middle of, really something special. The BP9000 speakers are quite close to the experience in a cinema, where many more speakers are used to completely cover the room. The good thing is that this even applies to low volumes. In a standard setup, the sub will often play too quietly at a lower volume, but with the BP9000 you always have a complete sound. The built-in woofer gives the center in particular a fullness that we sometimes miss, making the voice reproduction pretty good.

Are they BP9000 speakers perfect? Not that now. The speakers tend to produce a little bit of rumble – low rumbling, with little detail – which makes bass disturb the rest. That is why action films really do pop – and even at low volumes, where a single subwoofer often does not function properly. In itself, this ever-present bass is exactly what many people are looking for during their movie night. But sometimes there is a lack of sophistication, so that in certain film scenes your attention is drawn to the low. By properly adjusting the balance at the back of the speakers, you can largely solve this problem. But it emphasizes once again that in a setup consisting of these DT speakers you have to put more work than usual. Fortunately, the subwoofers are fairly fast, so that electronic and classical music retains its sense of rhythm. Given that these two genres deliver the majority of the soundtracks of films, that is surely good news. It is in scenes with many sound effects and uplifting music that the BP9000 are at their strongest. The bipolar array can then give a bit of a live feeling to stereo music, which may or may not be your preferences.

They are also speakers that are a bit distant from you, say a meter or two minimum. They do not seem to radiate extremely broadly, so if you have to place the rean channels closer (like the two BP9040s in this test), you should focus them directly on listener. Of course you can experiment with this. It is also ideal if the back of the speaker points in the direction of a wall.

In our test of the Pioneer VSX-933 we talked about the stunning final scene in ‘Wiplash’, as Miles Teller like a madman Carry on the drums during a performance in a large auditorium. It is all about music here, in particular the increasingly hectic trumpet of Teller. It is ‘only’ a DTS HD Master track on the Blu-ray, but it sounds spectacularly good on the BP9000 speakers. Later we looked at it again, now with the Denon receiver that scaled the soundtrack to 5.0.4 – and it got even better. The Definitive Technology speakers translated the entire intensity of the drum into that large space into our test room. We were simply puffed when the climax of the drum solo was reached. If there ever was an example of a movie scene that gets much better with a well-balanced surround setup, it is this one.

What immediately took us to another well-known film scene with impressive sound: the exam with the beans in ‘ House of the Flying Daggers’. The enormous contrast between the silences and the sounds of the beans that fly through the room and hit drums makes this fantastic to test the performance of your surround set. Also here: wow. All movement is perfect. The beans you hear fly through space, the drums are positioned in terms of sound where they should stand, the shards fall on the ground hyperrealistically. Again it is a DTS Master HD soundtrack.

To investigate how well native Dolby Atmos happens, we grab the Ultra HD Blu-ray of ‘Valerian’ and the Blu-ray from ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’. Here too, we are central to the sound field of these films as we have rarely encountered them, with everything well positioned and small details that distinguish themselves from big sounds, such as explosions and fights. Consider, for example, the distress signal that sounds in the background while Ethan Hunt crashes around in the cargo plane. What we miss a little bit is a huge sense of space, especially in the opera scene of MI: RN, which we often use as a reference. The Atmos module and the built-in Dolby speaker on the BP9080x we found less impressive than the separate height channels that we normally use, but they do offer a more spacious 3D view – and that in an elegant way that unlike ceiling speakers knocks and bones required.

Conclusion

Definitive Technology has done something special here and it deserves a huge pat on the back. If we keep an eye on our eyes and forget about how much work it was to set up the BP9000 speakers, we would recommend these loudspeakers to everyone who wants to build a home cinema without the slightest reservations. We think of the word ‘devotee’, because for an average living room where you also want to enjoy some surround, its fantastic overkill. They create a convincing, enveloping soundscape that makes films very strong. You do need the space, because they need it to come into their own. However, the design is controversial and there will be as many enthusiasts as haters. Also with the elimination of the wiring you are just as busy, as is the adjustment. You can not call them cheap, although you save the money that you spend on a subwoofer. But the BP9000 is really worth considering for a serious home theater.

Negatives

  • More cables per speaker needed
  • Bipolar speakers can disrupt some calibration systems
  • Placement is important
  • Pronouncing design
  • Total cost is pretty high

Pros

  • Full-range, bipolar concept that really delivers the promised
  • Easy to operate
  • Prima center speaker
  • Fantastic immersion in movies
  • No separate sub required
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