Infinity Primus Two-way 6 1/2-Inch Bookshelf Speaker
Check out those bad ass stands my wife made. A Christmas present for me; now here is my present for you, a review.
Infinity Primus speakers were the go to recommendation before the Pioneer BS22's came into the picture. I picked up this pair to see what they sound like and see how they really stack up to the competition.
Tweeter looks really nice, Infinity says it's an aluminum dome that has had a thick anodized coating to the front and the back, but it looks like it's been painted. The horn flare is a bit off putting, I'm hoping the Primus don't have a beaming hot treble like the Pioneer BS22's.
That's a plastic bezel with a tweeter expertly stuck on it.
The woofer is really sharp, look at that silver cone and light gray surround.. this thing looks proper bad ass. The surround is rubber, and the cone is the same anodized aluminum as the tweeter, but does not look as shiny. The fit and finish of the drivers is great.
Harman(Parent company for Infinity) has a thing for plastic trim rings, I wish they would clean house and fire guys who dresses up the designs and just make good speakers. This piece is nice and all, but they could have probably spent that money better by making a cast basket for the woofer instead of stamped steel and not needed the trim ring at all.
You can see what I'm talking about here, that basket is made of the cheapest shit I've come across, and it's got a massive motor hanging off of the back of it, silly shit. The motor itself looks like a 1 inch voice coil and a backing magnet to provide magnetic shielding to protect all those CRT TV's people are still using. Misplaced priorities is going to be a common theme in this review.
Lots of parts in this crossover, more inductors and copper than I usually come across in a budget speaker, and definitely more than what you find in the Pioneers. One thing to note here is all of the caps are electrolytic and the all but one of the inductors are iron core.. this is not "audiophile." I've never heard the difference cap nor inductor types make, but the rule of thumb is to use only poly caps on the tweeter crossover, and air core is the way to go for the best sound. The Pioneers use poly for the tweeter, and have at least a couple air core inductors that I can remember.
This thing is built like a tank. The Infinity P163's are the only speakers I've bought online that had HEAVY written on the side of the box. We are looking at thick MDF, and a massive center brace. Let me say that again, a center brace in a budget speaker, this is ape shit level crazy. These boxes are built as good as you find on most $700 speakers. I sure wish they would have skimped a little on the box and put more money on the drivers and crossover, you know the parts that actually make sounds.
This is a little pet peeve of mine, you see that little ridge there, it does not need to be there. The grills line up to the line, but why would you put it there? I can just image the horror of the sound waves coming from the tweeter running head first in the little ridge, like a 15 car pile up on the interstate making a diffraction issue that just did not need to be there. Now honestly it's probably too small in comparison to the wave given the distance from the tweeter, but Infinity paid to make sure the ridge was machined into the cabinet construction. Face palm.
It's a big hole that's not too deep. The port is little more than a double flair, at 2 inches deep it's a shallow hole in the cabinet. Also it will bother a few people that the port is asymmetrical with it being on the left side of both cabinets. I have not done the math on this one, but I figure Infinity knows how to tune a port.
The grill fasteners have a bad habit of coming out with the grill. It's not a big deal at this price range, but a bit of a head scratcher as you think something this simple would have been solved after so many years of making speakers with grills.
This grill is acceptable, looks nice, does not have any cross pieces in front of any drivers, it's alright for a grill.
This is where the wires go, it works.
With the grills off the highs are a sharp. Tonally I prefer the grills on, they seem to calm things down just a bit. The problem with this solution, at least near field on a desktop setup is the speaker sounds muffled with the
grills, like it's hiding details.
Bass is very limited, but clean at least. The Primus bookshelf line are definitely home theater speakers in that they really need a subwoofer to have bass to match their output. Sounds like really sharp roll off at 80Hz.
The shrillness of the tweeter is pretty bad. I'm guessing it's distortion of some kind that I'm hearing and not just a response problem.
Midrange is very defined, the aluminum woofer is very stiff, and not much of an air mover. The trade of bass extension for efficiency is pretty obvious, the P163's get loud.
The larger cabinet size compared to everything else I've tested outside of the JBL LSR308's seems almost a waste as the port is only 3 inches long and it seems to be doing nothing. I find this with many of these front ported bookshelf speakers, the is port is naturally out of phase with the woofer's response and seems to just make a mess or cancel out instead of adding bass extension.
True to the highpoint for the Infinity brand the Primus P163's sound very much like early 90's speakers. Imaging is forward, but very full for the near field desktop placement. It can get inside of your head which is a bit uncomfortable.
The Cars - Let's Go sounds very good, but the high hats are way too hot, sounds almost like a PA system.
I'm hearing hissing distortion on songs I normally don't. Not sure if it's just the rising response in the treble or if there is actual distortion issues with the speakers or my other gear.
While they can get loud, it's an uncomfortable loud, not a good loud. The lack of bass extension makes the P163's shout boxes instead of party speakers. They kind of remind me of the old school big a boom boxes.
Too much upper midrange and treble. More than missing bass, these have a ragged response and I can hear it poo pooing everything.
I'm not hearing any big issues with cone breakup, sounds like the crossover in there is controlling the woofer, but the distortion issues might point to the tweeter crossing too low.
Uncorrected the Infinity Primus P163's are home theater surround speakers, I would not use them for anything more than that.
The big unveiling, let's find out what is going wrong with Infinity's Primus P163 speakers.
Here is a close mic measurement I took of each of the drivers and the port. For the DSP Correction I ended up cutting three little peaks out of the woofer response as they showed up in all of my measurements and this was the most exacting way to make a the cuts.
My room shows up here with some peaks and nulls in the midrange and bass. My measurements are good above 800Hz, below that they are somewhat random and should be considered the speaker doing something in that range.
I'm not sure who to blame for this, but I think the waveguide on the tweeter is the culprit for the rising response from 7k on up. The bloated midrange is what you get when you have a woofer with no ass to it, but still can't play high enough to cover the top octaves to cross with the tweeter. Maybe the smaller versions of this speaker would be better, but this one is fucked for a speaker that is +-3dB from 80Hz-20kHz.
This is a measurement of me trying in vain to add bass response extension by plugging the port, as you can see it did not work.
This is a measurement with the Grill on compared to off. The grills are good and transparent, so that's something.
I really worked this one over, nothing went untouched. I went through 6 iterations of corrections before I settled on these filters. Yeah it could probably be optimized to remove a few redundant filters, but at this point I'm just happy I've got something that works.
Here is what we end up with: flat response on axis above 700Hz, some resonance characteristics turned down, and a tiny bit more bass extension. After the dust settled the speaker loses about 4dB of headroom with the correction, but still plays good and loud.
Corrected Listening Impressions
The corrected Infinty Primus P163 Speakers sound pretty good. The highs are really present still, and the little tweeter does sound kind of shitty at times. One good thing about the tweeter is it has a nice wide dispersion, similar to a ribbon in that you get 20KHz pretty flat at the listening position even without pointing the speakers at you. The Primus speakers image better than any speakers their size I've tested, for a big ass speaker they do a great 3d image. The lack of bass is a big problem. These speakers are huge, and as such they are expected to pull their weight. Instead we need to add a subwoofer just to get good coverage to 60Hz, the P163's are 3dB down at 75Hz, that is a problem.
The Infinty speakers are big and well built, but the driver selection is really a problem. The P163's can play loud, are tonally OK, image great, look
pretty good, and basically do the job, but for a desktop they are not a first choice. It hurts a little, but I can't recommend these for the desktop unless you plan on using a good subwoofer with them and apply the DSP
For a living room setup they would be okay with a subwoofer. Maybe one of those autocorrecting receivers would be able to smooth out the treble response, but I have doubts about that.
If you have the Primus P163's already, I would not go out and swap these for the Pioneer BS22 or other budget gear. They are good enough to keep until a larger upgrade, but not good enough to buy when there are slightly better options available for equal money.
Check out the system finder to see what I recommend.
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