Boston Acoustics VS 336 Floor-standing Loudspeakers Review

5 Stars

Boston Acoustics’ big VS 336 floorstanders wow Gary Pearce’s ears

It was early days for home theatre – a time when the idea that you could have a great audio-visual experience in your own lounge was still somewhat new – and I had decided it was time for an upgrade of my embryonic system of modest components.

The Pioneer VSX606s gave way to a lusty Sony STR-DB930, and a Toshiba DVD player was brought in to supplant the venerable DV-505 – then a legend in its own time.

The biggest change was in the speaker area though, with a monster centre speaker from Boston Acoustics. It was the Lynnfield VR10, a hefty four-driver three-way box of Herculean proportions, and a stunningly good sounding speaker it turned out to be.

It was time to wave goodbye to the VR10 a few years back, with an upgrade to a Castle Acoustics system, but really, in performance stakes it had no reason at all to develop an inferiority complex.

Now, with Avalon Pacific Marketing having been appointed as the new distributors of the American company’s range of loudspeakers and other audio products, it was time to audition Boston Acoustics once more.

The Boston Acoustics flagship VS 336 speaker is a generously proportioned and unusually attractive three-way design utilising no less than five drivers. Recommended for use with amplifiers as powerful as 400wpc, the 8ohm VS 336 has a sensitivity of 87dB. A good 100w high current integrated amplifier such as Yamaha’s delicious A-S2000 would make a great partner for them, but these babies probably won’t sing with a low-rating amp.

Three 165mm bass drivers, a 114mm midrange and an unusual 25mm ‘dimpled’ tweeter adorn the mirror finish black piano gloss front baffle, while the five-way binding posts on the rear panel of each curved enclosure are heavy duty items. Each heavily braced cabinet is constructed using layers of different wood material, lessening the chance of any cabinet resonance. To further enhance sound quality and increase the stability of the slender VS 336, a spiked outrigger bar is connected to the rear of the speaker, broadening the footprint and coupling the speaker to the floor.

Looks are very subjective of course, but I was impressed with the aesthetic and finish of these imposing beauties. The speakers were cabled to a delicious set of Bryston electronics (BP26 Pre/ MPS-2 PSU/14BSST Power/BCD-1 cd player/BDA-1 d/a converter), and in this high-end system the VS 336’s proved to be worth more than the sum of their well-constructed parts.

The title track from Antonio Forcione’s Touchwood album is chock-full of plucked acoustic guitar, and here they gave a pacey rendition with nimble bass and nice sound staging. Complex musical passages were unravelled by the 336’s – it was easy to follow individual musicians when concentrating, but this didn’t detract from a nicely integrated and cohesive sound quality. Another joy was ‘Inertia Creeps’ and ‘Dissolved Girl’ from Massive Attack’s Mezzanine CD, where a nicely extended yet articulate bass underpinned an involving and detailed yet suitably moody sound.

Sound staging was certainly a highlight with audio emanating to the far left and right of my seating position – ‘Little Bird’ from Goldfrapp’s Seventh Tree album sounded terrific in this regard. Her vocal was centred solidly between each speaker, while the swirling synths created a heady and involving sound that this reviewer really enjoyed.

It was excellent stuff, and I had the feeling I was listening to a speaker worth more than the asking price of the big Bostons.

Competition is intense around this price, and I suggest anyone with six grand to spend should check out other loudspeakers and compare. Would I own them based on this audition? Yes, I would, for a number of reasons: they’re unfussy regarding placement and are easy to drive, played very well at low volume (and high volume, I must add), and did justice to all the different music genres thrown their way.

Boston Acoustics’ VS 336 loud speakers would would be quite capable in a big-ticket hi-fi just for their superior music-making and pacey sound, let alone their striking aesthetics. Highly recommended – a killer act. GARY PEARCE

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