Price: £2,899 More info: Teufel Size: S800FCR: 46x25x19cm, 8.5kg, S800D: 17x31x24cm, 6kg, S8000SW 36x70x55cm, 42kg Speakers: 3x S800D THX-certified front, left, centre, 2x S800D dipole rear satellites, S8000SW active subwoofer Drivers: S500D: 2x130mm flat diaphragm bass/mid, 25mm textile dome tweeter: S50D dipoles: 1x130mm woofer, 2x100mm bass/mid cone drivers, 1x 25mm textile dome tweeter; S8000SW: 1x300mm bass driver Power handling: S800FCR: 150W, S800D: 110W, S80000SW: 500W Finishes: Black
Smallest system to offer full THX Ultra2 certification, plenty of power, piercing clarity
Ugly, boxy looks, too big for the average UK living room
German speaker manufacturer Teufel has several compact surround speaker systems on the market but this isn't one of them. The System 8 is a grandstanding collection of black boxes that fairly screams 'look at my system, can't you see I love home cinema sound?'
It does however claim to be the smallest home cinema system to have received THX Ultra2 certification, the high-end surround sound standard created by George Lucas's THX.
There's nothing 'background' about the System 8. It's fronted by the extremely solidly built S 800 FCR speakers for left, right and centre, each measuring 46x25x19cm and weighing a hefty 8.5kg. The only slightly smaller S 800 D bipolar satellites measure 17x31x24cm and 6kg but it's the brutish dimensions of the S 8000 SW subwoofer that really make a mark at 36x70x55cm and 42kg.
It's a standout system that has absolutely no intention of disappearing into the background, but Teufel has at least had the decency to finish it in an attractive piano black gloss, which softens the impact a little - so long as you keep your fingerprints off it.
Each of the left, right and centre speakers contains three flat diaphragm drivers: an 80mm midrange model surrounded by a pair of 130mm woofers. Also placed centrally is a 25mm silk dome tweeter designed to cope with high frequencies at the high volumes expected of the System 8, and as required by the THX Ultra2 certification. The flat diaphragm design is intended to radiate midrange frequencies across the entire diaphragm, so reducing the possibility of phase shifts.
They're covered by a simple fabric dust screen that fits snugly over the front of the speaker and there's a pair of gold-plated binding posts at the back with options for wall or stand mounting with pre-drilled holes provided.
The dipole rear speakers include two sets of drivers firing in opposite directions to give a more diffuse basis to the sound. There's a 100mm midrange driver and a 25mm tweeter on either side and behind them, facing the wall, is a 130mm woofer which adds a good degree of low-end throb to the sound.
The S 8000 SW subwoofer can deliver 500 watts of bass power and meets its THX Ultra2 requirements through a single downward-firing 300mm driver. It has a panel of heatsink fins on the back, along with a knob for setting the frequency crossover (between 40-240Hz) and several connection options, including four sets of speaker terminals and phono in/out connections. On the front is an aluminium panel surrounding a series of LEDs which can be controlled with the supplied remote to switch the phase and activate the THX setting.
Whatever you're watching, the System 8 has more than enough power to deliver a fully immersive sound, but fortunately, it's not all about the muscle. There's plenty of that of course, and it can deliver floor-shaking thrills aplenty when called for but with a bit of tweaking, there's no need to let the low end dominate the experience, and taming the beast that is the S 8000 SW sub is easily done. Thankfully, the bass is tightly controlled even at high volume, so it's rumble never seems to run away with the overall sound.
Speaking of which, there's a clarity and insight to the System 8 experience that does an excellent job of buffing up the murkier corners of a soundtrack and ensures you always feel immersed in the action, even when the action is decidedly muted. Whispered speech for example poses no problem for the FCR speakers, and Clint Eastwood's growled performance through Gran Torino becomes magically intelligible.
The dipole surrounds do more than simply provide ambient effects, with their wall-firing woofers providing a an extra level of depth that you have to listen hard to actually identify - but then feel robbed of when you go back to conventionally smaller surrounds.
Usefully, since Teufel products are only available online, they come with an eight-week test listening period which gives you the chance to live with them, learn to love them, and if not, send them back. You might even decide to replace them with a System 5.
It's a cracking system, but while you'd expect brute power from the size and price, the System 8 offers a surprisingly delicate performance that brooks no resistance when it comes to drawing you into the action. But unless you have a particularly big living room (it's designed for rooms of around 100m3), it's probably more than you need.