HSU HB-1: 2-Way Satellite Speaker Bargain of 2006?
First off, I have no association with HSU research beyond owning one of their TN1220HO Sub woofer systems since 2000. I contacted HSU Research recently, hoping to order a second 1220HO to expand my sub bass system, but they no longer offer that product so I started to review their current product offerings.
I noticed a NEW item that HSU had recently introduced; HB-1; a smaller satellite speaker - 15"Tall x8"x8" - (6' woofer and horn tweeter in a rear ported MDF box) with a 7 Year warranty. The HB-1 is somewhat larger than the standard bookshelf speaker, but small enough to consider for other needs I had, like a second room or as home theater satellites. HB-1’s are also designed for wall mounting, and a simple mounting plate comes installed on the speakers. The appearance of the HB-1's is ‘nothing fancy’, but I think they look ‘o.k.’ with or without their grilles...besides, I like black. For $250.00/Pair, I wasn't expecting much aesthetically or sonically. But based on the positive comments from those who have tried HB-1's so far and the quality performance of the HSU 1220HO, I decided to order a pair of the HB-1's as a curiosity...just to see if they might live up to some of the preliminary reviews and possibly be acceptable as satellites to my main system.
I received the HB-1's 5 days ago and hooked them into an office system that runs an older pair of 3-way Precise Monitor speakers that I have always kept around because of their 'flat' response, excellent midrange, decent bass, good imaging and overall ‘honest’ sound. I just placed the HB-1's on top of the monitors and hooked them up with cheap speaker cables...I was trying to disadvantage the HB-1's as much as possible, not anticipating that a modest looking $125.00, 2-way horn speaker would have a chance against my old monitors…I was immediately proven wrong…
After a few days of casual and critical listening I really couldn’t find much fault with the HB-1’s… Moving them onto decent metal pedestals and placing them into a more reasonable listening location only made them perform better – providing more bass extension and a better appreciation of how well the horn tweeters performed. Being played a few days seemed to break them in fairly well. I finally moved them into my main listening room and placed them next to a pair of Aktiv-Triamped Linn Kabers. Again the HB-1’s seemed at home wherever I placed them. They would certainly work well as satellites for the Kabers in an HT system. Running the HB-1’s with the HSU TN1220 also proved very musical for 2-channel listening, which is what they were actually designed for; to be part of a 3-way or 4-way system. (A new HSU mid-bass speaker to mate with the HB-1 and a Subwoofer is planned for release very soon)
I could go on at great length about the impression the HB-1’s have made in the short time I have had them. There is plenty of interesting reading about them at the links below. All I can say is that this unassuming looking product took me quite by surprise and deserves serious consideration for HT applications and perhaps MUCH more. Is it possible that ‘audiophile quality’ speakers are available for $125.00 each? Each must decide for themselves, but at this price point I would say the HB-1’s are going to attract many happy customers.
In the HSU discussion threads there is mention of another, soon-to-be-released product, the MBM-12, a mid bass cabinet designed to be placed closer to the listener and I believe there is also a center channel product planned to match the HB-1. HSU already has a good reputation for the performance and value of their Sub-Woofer systems and customer service. It looks like the HB-1 and forthcoming MBM-12 will only add to this reputation. In any case, I would not rule out the HB-1’s as a serious 2-channel speaker, unless you are more driven by fine cabinetry found elsewhere. I believe that HSU offers a 30 day trial on their products, and the HB-1 is one product that must be heard to be believed.
HSU HB-1: Discussion at Hsu site.
HSU: Discussion of Pending new Mid Bass product