When I was given the opportunity to review the Teufel System 5 home cinema speaker system, I was particularly interested because I had never actually heard any Teufel speakers before.
I had heard the name of Teufel in passing but had never heard any of their products - and even reviews were relatively hard to find (in English anyway).
When I looked into it a bit more, I found that they were a German speaker manufacturer with over 30 years experience of producing speakers - and they appeared to have a good reputation in the German market. However they didn't seem to have ventured much outside of Germany - which is why I hadn't come across them I guess.
The unique selling point of Teufel is that their speakers aren't available to buy from general audio-visual shops and internet retailers. What Teufel do is they sell their systems direct from their factory. By cutting out the middle-man, they aim to provide high-quality speakers at a low cost to the customer.
You will find that Teufel not only provide a wide range of speakers, from hi-fi stereo speakers to complete surround systems - but they also have various wireless audio products, media players and headphones.
However, back to the reason for this review, the Teufel System 5 home cinema system. This package is a 5.1 surround sound system that has components which are THX Select 2 certified. This certification means that these speakers have met certain standards defined by THX, and should therefore suggest a system that is of a relatively high standard.
The whole package isn't Select 2 certified, as this requires some extra features such as two subwoofers. However, if you wish, you can buy the slightly more expensive Teufel System 5 THX Select 2 - which is essentially the same components as the standard System 5, but with two subwoofers and slightly higher specification dipole surrounds.
There is a recommended room size of 15 to 35 square metres for these speakers, which is a useful guideline to those wondering if the relatively small satellites will produce enough power for their room. As you can see however, this system will fill a decent-sized room better than many satellite/subwoofer speaker combinations.
Teufel say there were two main aims of the System 5 - to make a multiple-speaker system that didn't take up too much room, but which would also satisfy the demands of movie and hi-fi enthusiasts.
There are many speaker systems which can do an adequate job of making a movie soundtrack sound impressive - but it's another matter entirely to be able to reproduce music to a high standard too.
So how does the Teufel System 5 fare?
Firstly, let's take a look at the specifications of this system and find out exactly what comes with the package.
The Teufel System 5 is a standard 5.1 surround sound system. Therefore it comes with three speakers for the front, centre and right channels, two surround speakers and a subwoofer.
Let's take a look in more detail at each of the speakers.
The front left, right and centre speakers are the same in this system. The S 500 FCR THX Select 2 speakers are slightly unusual for satellite speakers in that they are wider than they are tall and are bigger than your average satellite speaker - but smaller than most bookshelves.
In fact, the speakers find a nice balance between not being so big so that they take up too much room - but big enough to give a fairly full sound. The dimensions are 14.2cm (H) x 23.7cm (W) x 15.0cm (D).
Each speaker has two 130mm woofers with a unique flat-diaphragm design - constructed to radiate sound from across the whole surface area - and a single 25mm tweeter.
To be honest, they aren't the best looking speakers you will come across, but to me it is the sound that is important and so that isn't necessarily a show-stopper - and if you leave the speaker grills on then it doesn't matter much.
When you buy a System 5, you actually have the choice of two more of these speakers for use as the surround speakers. You would probably want this if you were going to listen to a lot of surround music - as they will reproduce music better than the alternative dipole speakers (see below).
The surround speakers come in the form of these dipole speakers (unless you opt for two more S 500 FCR speakers as mentioned above).
Dipole speakers are generally good for movie surrounds as they are able to spread the rear channels better than direct-firing speakers. This diffuse sound is usually better for creating a good surround effect and will balance well with the direct sound coming from your front speakers.
Dipoles have speaker drivers at opposite sides of the enclosure, and deliver an out-of-phase sound which helps to spread the audio - however it is important to install these in the correct position for this to work as it should.
These Teufel dipole speakers have one woofer and one tweeter on opposite sides of the speaker box, so a total of two woofers and two fabric tweeters. The woofer is 100mm and the tweeter 25mm.
With the speakers grills off, these speakers look a little nicer than the S 500 FCR satellite speakers.
The dimensions of this speaker are 23.7cm (H) x 14.2cm (W) x 15cm (D).
The final piece in the jigsaw is the subwoofer - and it's a pretty large piece!
The S 5000 SW subwoofer comes with an impressive 300mm down-firing speaker - in a 55 litre box. It's big.
With dimensions of 54.6cm (H) x 37cm (W) x 47.5cm (D) and weighing in at 23.5 kg, it's not an easy thing to hide away in the corner of the room (believe me, I tried).
This subwoofer has a power output capacity of 200 W and is designed to integrate with the satellite speakers at a crossover frequency of 80Hz. On the back of the enclosure you will find a volume control, a phase switch (0 or 180°) and an auto/on switch to control how the unit powers on/off.
There are no high level inputs for connecting the subwoofer directly to a set of speakers - and so the only option is to use the low level RCA input with the LFE output from an AV receiver (which is usually the best option anyway).
So now we have taken a look at the speakers that make up this system, how does the Teufel System 5 actually perform?
Teufel claim that the System 5 should perform well for both movies and music, which is often a difficult thing for a speaker system to achieve. However, a 5.1 system that is THX-certified suggests that movies are the main target for this setup, so let's first take a look at how it gets on at reproducing soundtracks.
The first thing that becomes clear when using the System 5 for the first time, is how easy it is to fill the room with sound. The speakers provide a wide soundfield, possibly due to the wide, flat-diaphragm design of the front three speakers, and this makes it easy to setup the system to compliment the width of the audio soundtrack.
Unlike some systems, you don't need to be sat exactly in the middle of the speakers to get the full effect of the panning effects from left and right, and this should also scale up to larger rooms too. Incidentally, the System 5 is recommended for rooms up to 35 m² - so there is plenty of power there if you have the right amplifier.
The rear dipole speakers are also effective at diffusing the sound, and they dovetail nicely with the front satellites. You get an excellent surround effect in the room without too much effort in placing the speakers in exactly the right positions.
The subwoofer, as expected from a beast like the S 5000, has the ability to lift you from your seat when you get to some really low frequency effects (sorry neighbours). The 80 Hz crossover works well with the satellite speakers, and it's hard to tell if the sound is coming from the front or subwoofer speakers - which is a good sign and indicates that the system is well designed to work together.
The subwoofer actually works really well, and gives a tight bass sound that jumps out with plenty of power when required. At first I thought the bass sub was a bit 'polite' and reserved for such a large subwoofer, but after living with it for a while I realised it was because it complemented the satellite speakers so well. It was doing its job without any fuss, but would still rattle the windows when required by the soundtrack.
The front satellites provide a detailed sound which are a cut above many 5.1 satellite speakers, although they may sound a bit too clinical for some tastes. The 130mm woofers are large enough to give a reasonable weight to voices and sound effects without relying too much on the subwoofer.
All in all, I liked the performance of this system with movies - and it proved it can handle subtle soundtracks and effects-driven epics alike.
So how was the System 5 when it came to reproducing music?
Well, up to a point, pretty good.
As already stated the front satellites do provide a fairly detailed sound and, unless you have a reasonably good stereo setup, you will hear many music tracks as you've never heard them before.
It should be pointed out that the speakers can't really operate on their own without the subwoofer (well, they can, but it won't sound that great!). This really is a '.1' system and needs the subwoofer to round off the sound and give a full frequency response. The THX specification means that the speakers are specifically designed to work together.
The subwoofer responds very quickly with music and, as with movies, it works well with the satellites to give a full sound.
The downside is the slight harshness in upper-mid frequencies that was slightly evident with movies, but is emphasized more with music - although more with some tracks than others. The satellite speakers can get very sibilant at certain frequencies and this is very evident with things like female vocals.
A few Eddi Reader tracks I tried were especially sibilant on certain words, and this would prove annoying if you were listening carefully. However, put on some Pink Floyd and it didn't sound too bad.
I managed to smooth out some of this sibilance using the parametric EQ on my AV receiver - however, just bear in mind this isn't something most people would be comfortable with doing, and may not even be possible depending on the equipment you are using.
This system doesn't have the smoothness of higher-end music systems - but then to be fair that's not where it is aimed. Even with a warm-sounding Yamaha receiver, you could still class the sound as bright, and so the choice of amplifier used with the system may be important.
I also didn't have a THX-certified AV receiver which may be slightly unfair on these THX-rated speakers.
Overall, the Teufel System 5 THX home cinema system is a pretty good performer.
I liked its performance with movies, and this is where the system really comes into its own. A detailed sound, excellent surround sound placement and room-shaking bass are what you can expect from a 5.1 system which really works 'as-one' to produce an exciting sound for movies.
It will easily handle all the low-rumblings of your favourite action-packed blockbuster, plus has enough detail to do justice to a more subtle soundtrack with atmospheric soundscapes or acoustic-based music.
If music performance is an important consideration for you, then you may need to consider what other options you have at this price point. That's not to say the System 5 can't handle music relatively well - but if you are an audiophile then you may need something with a little more smoothness and refinement. It depends on the type of music you play and your listening habits really.
The good news for those interested in this Teufel system (or any Teufel system for that matter) is that you don't have to take my word for it.
As a retailer that operates direct from the factory, Teufel offer an impressive 8 week risk-free home trial. You can order the speaker system from their website and once you have it delivered to your home, you can trial the system for 8 weeks. If you decide against keeping the speakers, you can return the system and you will receive a refund of the amount you paid, minus the shipping cost to send it back.
It's a tempting offer, as there is no substitute for hearing a speaker system in the exact room that you will be using. Your room acoustics can make a big difference to the sound of an audio setup - and at least you will know before you buy the thing!
Not only that, but Teufel offer a whopping 12-year guarantee on the housing, chassis and diplexers of the loudspeaker boxes - and a 2 year warranty on the electronic equipment, components and parts.
If, like me, you've never heard any Teufel speakers before, then they are a manufacturer that are worth considering if you are looking for the best speaker system for your home.