The personality and character of a loudspeaker are not something that happens by chance. Its designers have a specific goal and they do everything they can to achieve it. You will either like the Definitive Technology BP9040 or not find it to be your cup of tea. If the tonal balance and spatial capabilities are something that appeal to you — you might love this loudspeaker very much.
The packaging doesn’t quite do what is inside the box justice. The Definitive Technology BP9040 loudspeakers require careful handling and set-up; get everything right and you will be quite surprised by the final results.
The presence of 8 drivers, two of them acting as passive radiators, completely covered by acoustically neutral fabric that wraps around the entire speaker, makes it difficult to see where to put your hands to move the speakers without touching any cones and not damaging anything.
Although it may seem like overkill, put on white gloves to perform the setup and pay very close attention to where your hands sit.
Once the entire structure is assembled, we have before us high-performance speakers, isolated from the ground through aluminum feet that decouple the speaker from the floor.
It can be bi-amped and has two sets of binding posts.
Each speaker has an active class D powered subwoofer, so each of them must be connected to the mains. The rear panel also includes a subwoofer control.
The $1,800 BP9040 speakers feature Definitive Technology’s patented Forward Focused Bipolar Array (FFBA). The BP9040 array incorporates three 4.5” midrange drivers (two front-facing/one rear-facing) and two 1” aluminum dome tweeters (front and rear-facing).
All mid/bass woofers in the BP9040 feature their Balanced Double Surround System™ (BDSS) technology which improves driver excursion.
The wide footprint of the BP9040’s cast aluminum base increases overall stability of the tower speaker, while the addition of spikes or floor glides help keeps the speakers firmly in place, whether on carpet or other solid floor surfaces like hardwood or cement.
The BP9040 are 36 pounds apiece and solidly constructed. The 39″ x 6″ x 13″ dimensions make it pretty compact considering the driver compliment and powered subwoofer.
Are Stereo Speakers Good Enough for Home Theater?
Have you ever seriously wondered about this? I know that N. American listeners are more interested in complex large home setups versus those of us in Spain who may not have the physical room but I’m no longer convinced about the superiority of a 5.1 system over a 2.0 system when watching movies.
The Definitive Technology BP9040 system under review went a very long way to change my mind about this topic.
The timing of the review was fortuitous because I could take advantage of the fact that I still had the Cambridge Audio EVO 150 in my house,
I tested the performance of this combination; the first thing I had to do was moderate the subwoofer output so that it came across as better defined and less boomy.
Then I tried to adjust the position of the speakers until I realized that I was wasting my time; the dispersion pattern is such that only the midrange is directional and I was achieving little by moving the speaker from one position to the other.
As I discovered, this wasn’t a bad thing depending on the content.
The speakers from the onset confused me somewhat as the pinpoint imaging that I was used to with more conventional speakers was missing. The spatial information felt out of whack at the beginning. The music of Chris Rea was a brand new experience; “Looking for the Summer” completely enveloped me without having a clearly defined stereo image or star in the sky marking my way.
His voice appeared to be everywhere in my listening space and while I could appreciate the immersive nature of the sound, I felt somewhat confused by the experience. My senses felt cheated somewhat.
I realized that the only thing that I could do was to totally disconnect myself from the traditional audiophile experience and live in the moment and just let go of all of my prejudices.
I experienced spatial confusion and I’m going to surprise some of you when I tell you that I was grateful to be able to reach out and touch the music and to be able to experience this moment.
After so many years in this hobby, it was a moment that left me surprised, confused, and almost stunned. It was the type of moment that recharged my batteries and left me energized to awaken the next day and listen to something else.
Neophytes should not panic. The bed still shakes and squeals and all will be fine in the morning.
The magnificent Cambridge Audio EVO 150 elevated the Definitive Technology BP9040 to another level in the midrange and treble; the EVO 150 added some necessary warmth and resolution in both of those areas and made me appreciate the BP9040 even more.
The EVO 150 suffers a bit in the bass department but was rescued by the BP9040 in this scenario as it offers robust bass response once you adjust its settings to match your room.
If you’re interested in a Dolby Atmos experience, you can add the Definitive Technology A90 Height Module to take full advantage of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D audio.
It is installed on the top of the BP9040 and the A90’s internal sloped speaker baffle fires sound upward, reflecting it off the ceiling and back down to your listening area in a tightly controlled dispersion pattern.
The A90 height speaker module utilizes the same balanced double surround system woofers and aluminum dome tweeters as found in other BP9000 model speakers.
Dolby Atmos treats everything as an individual object within the soundstage which can work superbly well with mixes with a lot of action that can sound like a jumbled mess through other surround formats.
Not every Atmos system with height modules succeeds in the way dedicated in-ceiling speakers can with Atmos-encoded surround mixes because the sound has to reflect off the ceiling before it reaches your ears and the height of the ceiling can have a huge impact on the sound.
I wish the opportunity had presented itself because I am convinced that the BP9040/A90 combination would have been magical.
Popcorn, Soda and a Movie…
I adjusted the subwoofer upwards to add some presence to Les Misérables and probably insulted Victor Hugo in the process. When Russell Crowe enters his pivotal scene and we are treated to “Look Down,” the entire room shook with some ferocity.
The BP9040’s 8-inch powered subwoofer with dual passive radiators delivered a rather astonishing degree of controlled energy that completely transformed my appreciation of the film and its wonderful score.
Tracks like “The Confrontation,” “Do you hear the people sing?” and “Building the barricade” had so much atmosphere and presence that I found myself sitting on the edge of my sofa, almost transfixed by the experience.
Over the past century, we have been fortunate to experience hundreds of musicals and while the recorded versions have benefitted enormously from advancements in sound quality, the overall experience was somewhat lacking at home until the most recent advancements in picture quality and surround sound.
Loudspeakers like the Definitive Technology BP9040 are a reflection of that change and the new demands of television and movies. Consumers expect a “movie theater” experience at home and while the BP9040 may not deliver something as dynamic and resolving at the Theory Audio Design 5.2.2 system that was recently reviewed, they succeed at delivering something that envelops and seduces the listener for under $2,000.
I have been experiencing a change in my conception of sound and not just the transition from one format to another; the transition from analog to digital with the CD in the 1980s was a huge paradigm shift for not only consumers but the industry as well. It is ironic that vinyl has surpassed CD sales in many markets, but we still live in a digital age where digital streaming rules.
We’re also in the process of transitioning from stereo to multi-channel audio and while some people consider surround sound to be a gimmick, there is no question that the future of audio will be multi-channel audio once there are enough mainstream recordings to make it viable.
Products like the Definitive Technology BP9040 have opened my mind to a new reality. Implementing this many drivers can be a recipe for disaster if the crossover points are wrong and the overall tonal balance isn’t very pleasing. What makes the BP9040 so unique is that it delivers such a full-range sound with excellent clarity and detail and manages to not screw everything up with its spatial presentation that recreates a huge soundstage. The sound won’t necessarily be for everyone but it’s a compelling option below $2,000 for those who require a pair of loudspeakers that work very well with both music and movies.
For more information: definitivetechnology.com
The Spanish version of this review originally appeared at Amigos Hi-Fi.