EMP Tek Cinema 7 Compact Home Theater Speaker System Review

A 7.1 Channel Speaker System That Looks and Sounds Great

EMP Tek Cinema 7 - 7.1 Channel Speaker System - Photo - Front View - Grills On
EMP Tek Cinema 7 - 7.1 Channel Speaker System - Photo of Front View with Speaker Grills On. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Getting big sound out of compact speakers is definitely a challenge, but EMP Tek, borrowing some technology, from their higher-end products, has come up with a speaker package with compact center and satellite bookshelf speakers, in combination with a full-size 10-inch subwoofer, that is intended to deliver a good home theater surround sound experience on a small budget. For all the details, keep reading this review. Afterward, also be sure to check out my ​Photo Profile for an additional close-up look at, and technical description of, this speaker system.

EMP Tek Cinema 7 - Overview

E3c Center Channel Speaker

The E3c speaker is a 2-Way bass reflex design that incorporates two 3-inch Bass/Midrange drivers, a 3/4-inch tweeter, and two rear facing port for an extended low-frequency response.

The E3c features MDF (medium density fiberboard) construction, weighs 5.90 lbs and has the following dimensions (WHD) 10-3/4 x 4-1/4 x 6 (inches).

For more specification details, refer to my E3c Photo Profile Page

Proceed to the next photo for a look at the satellite speakers provided with this system...

E3b Bookshelf Satellite Speakers

The EMP Tek E3b bookshelf satellite speakers are a 2-Way Bass Reflex Design that incorporates one 3-inch Bass/Midrange driver, a 3/4-inch tweeter, and rear facing port for extended low-frequency output.

Each E3b features MDF construction weighs 3.25 lbs and has the following dimensions (WHD in inches): 4-1/4 x 6-3/4 x 5-1/8.

For more specification details, refer to my E3b Photo Profile Page

E10s Powered Subwoofer

The E10s Subwoofer included in the Cinema 7 speaker system has a Bass Reflex design as evidenced by the combination of the 10-inch front firing driver in combination with a down-facing port.

The EMP Tek E10s weighs 27 pounds and has the following dimensions (WHD in inches): 13 x 14 1/2 x 16.

For more specification details, refer to my E10s Photo Profile Page.

Additional Components Used in this Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 used for comparison (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3's, Klipsch C-2 Center, 2 Polk Audo R300's, and Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, InTekrconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High-Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Software Used

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - A Beach Full of Shells, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Audio Performance - E3c Center Channel and E3b Satellite Speakers

The E3c Center Channel and E3b Satellite Speakers, despite their small size provided a very good sound listening experience. The E3c Center did a good job anchoring vocals and dialog, but wasn't quite as "beefy" in the lower midrange as the larger center speakers in the comparison systems, and wasn't quite as detailed in the higher frequencies.

On the other hand, the E3c is not overly bright or harsh and projects a sound stage larger than its physical size. The ECs definitely fulfilled its center channel role well for its compact size and integrated smoothly with both the E3b satellites and E10s subwoofer.

The E3c, in combination with E3b satellites provided a very good surround sound listening experience. Although slightly subdued with high frequency transients, such as the fine detail in percussion instruments, crashing and breaking glass, wood, or similar effects, they were by no means overly dull. The satellites provided smoothness and good directional placement of sound effects, as well as providing an immersive sound field for movies and music when placed their 7 channel configuration.

Audio Performance - E10s Subwoofer

Both E3c center and E3b satellite speakers are a great combination, but the real star of the Cinema 7 is the E10s subwoofer. In budget-priced speaker systems, corners often have to be cut to meet a price point, and this can result in a subwoofer that isn't properly up to the takes. It can be too boomy in upper base range, too muddy and indistinct on the bottom, or drop off in volume too fast as the frequencies get lower.

However, this is not the case for E10s. I found that that this Subwoofer not only provided good transition from the lower mid-range/upper bass capabilities of the E3b and E3c to low frequencies produced by the subwoofer, but was not boomy in the upper bass, and very tight and powerful on the deep end.

For movies, the E10s provided just the right amount of low end kick for the cannon fire in the opening battle scene of Master and Commander and the depth charge scenes in U571. For music, the E10s produced a good low frequency response for electric bass, as well as the texture needed for good acoustic bass reproduction.

In Terms of how the E10s Subwoofer compared to the Klipsch Synergy Sub10 and the EMP Tek ES10i I used for comparison, the E10s Subwoofer couldn't quite go down to the extreme low end at the same output level as the Klipsch (of course the Klipsch as much more powerful amplifier), but was deeper, and tighter on the low end than the EMP Tek ES10i. The E10s is a great performing 10-inch sub, providing the needed impact for movies, and also providing distinctive and deep bass response for music. The E10s definitely provides enough bass for small and medium size rooms as a complement to the E3b and E3c speakers.

What I Liked About the EMP Tek Cinema 7 Compact Home Theater Speaker System

1. The compact size of the center and satellite speakers make placement very easy.

2. Despite their small size, the E3b and E3c speaker project sound into the room well, which is perfect for surround sound listening.

3. The E3c does a good job of anchoring dialog and vocals.

4. The E10s Subwoofer provides very good low-frequency response.

What I Didn't About the EMP Tek Cinema 7 Compact Home Theater Speaker System.

1. What have liked to see sub preamp output on the E10s for connection of an additional subwoofer if desired.

2. No speaker-level inputs/outputs on the E10s subwoofer.

3. The inset that surrounds the push-in speaker terminals on E3b and E3c is little small, making guiding stiff or thick wire a little tricky.

4. Although the center and satellite speakers are available in both a black and white finish, the subwoofer is only available in black.

Final Take

I really enjoyed listening to this system. The E3c center and E3b satellites were a little subdued on the very high frequencies, but projected a sound stage wider than their physical size would indicate. The E10s subwoofer provided a low bass response that was sufficiently tight for a subwoofer in its size and price class, and not boomy in the mid or upper bass frequencies, which can be an issue with an inexpensive subwoofer.

The EMP Tek Cinema 7 is straight-forward, well-constructed, good sounding compact home theater speaker system that doesn't break the bank. If you have a small or medium-size room with a modest home theater setup that includes a 7.1 channel receiver, the EMP Tek Cinema 7 is a speaker system that can do the job - Definitely worth consideration.

The system is also available in a 5.1 channel version, the EMP Tek Cinema 5 (Official Product and Purchase Information Page).

For a more detailed physical look and additional perspective, on the EMP Tek Cinema 7 Compact Home Theater System, check out my companion Photo Profile.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.