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Cerwin Vega Rises From the Ashes with New Speaker System

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It wasn't our fault!

The doorbell rang and standing on the front porch were two visibly annoyed delivery guys bearing 191 pounds of speakers from Cerwin Vega.

We weren't able to appease them, but we have benefited from the experience of putting the speaker system through its paces.

Included in the package were:

  • Two Cerwin Vega SL12 front speakers ($748 each)
  • A Cerwin Vega SL 10S subwoofer ($581)
  • A pair of Cerwin Vega SL5M two-way bookshelf speakers ($248)
  • A Cerwin Vega SL45C center speaker ($331)

Cerwin Vega, established in 1954, had been one of the most innovative manufacturers of audio equipment in the 20th Century, but fell upon hard times and declared bankruptcy in 2002. They were briefly owned by the Stanton Group and were later bought by The Gibson Guitar Co. This and several other purchases by Gibson resulted in the formation of the Gibson Professional Audio Division. Now, it looks like Cerwin Vega is rising from the ashes and trying to reclaim its former glory as one of the top audio equipment manufacturers.

We tested the speakers using a Harmon Kardon AVR 1710 amplifier/receiver and four Polk satellite speakers that were embedded in the ceiling of our "man cave." The result was beautiful, pure sound with only a few exceptions.

The front speakers delivered a wide range of sound, from a deep bass to a fairly high treble with no distortion, even when we cranked up the system to full volume. Truthfully, the range of these speakers eliminated the need for a subwoofer, but being audio purists, we decided to add some extra boom to the low frequency range.

The result was an extremely heavy, booming bass, which was a bit overwhelming. We solved that problem by turning down the volume on the subwoofer so it just added an extra "boom" when it was needed.

What really surprised us was how easy it was to integrate the speakers with the Polk satellites. We had expected there would be some minor compatibility issues, but were delightfully proved wrong.

Although they weren't able to produce the wide range of sound of the front, center and subwoofer Polks they replaced, they came close enough where we never missed our older speakers.

We tested the bookshelf speakers, which would probably serve as a set of rear speakers in a complete Cerwin Vega system, with an older Yamaha Natural Cinema amplifier using two small Bose cubes as the rear speakers. The result was a pleasing range of sound delivering better range than we expected from a bookshelf system.

Overall, we really liked what we heard.

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