There’s no beating the versatility and adaptability of bookshelf speakers for use in a home theater system or for listening to great music. Their small size makes them easily adaptable to any listening environment and, while they generally lack the full-range, superior performance of the best floor standing speakers, teaming them up with a good subwoofer will largely ameliorate that situation, too. Among speakers in this price range, very few perform as well as the Infinity Primus P162.
The competition for the top spot among bookshelf loudspeakers is very tight, especially in the top half of our rankings. Ultimately, the Infinity Primus P162, our TopTenREVIEWS Silver Award winner, missed the number one spot because of the superior efficiency of the Klipsch B-20, but in some notable regards it may be a better choice for many consumers. Similarly, Infinity barely edged out the excellent Boston Acoustics CS 26 bookshelf speakers due to slightly better low-end response and marginally better sensitivity.
We were very impressed with the depths to which the Infinity Primus P162 can reach in terms of bass reproduction. As small as it is, its 6.5-inch low-frequency driver is able to dig down to a rather remarkable 49Hz, barely missing the 41Hz needed to give life to the lowest note of a bass guitar. Admittedly, these would have to be paired with a subwoofer to recreate truly full-range sound, but that can be said of any of the bookshelf speakers we’ve rated.
Treble performance is completely adequate for most purposes but is less remarkable. While the Infinity Primus top-end performance does extend to the critical 20kHz benchmark, the typical upper limit for human hearing, it leaves no room for overtones. Sonic material higher than 20kHz isn’t consciously heard but can, nonetheless, be discerned, giving the best of recorded music its ethereal spaciousness and contributing to the sense of realism. Several bookshelf speakers we reviewed rank better in this particular measure.
Boasting 90dB sensitivity, the Infinity Primus P162 compares favorably to all but the Klipsch B-20. Sensitivity is a critical, but often overlooked, measurement when evaluating bookshelf speakers. Because amplifiers provide much cleaner sound reproduction when operating in their comfort zone, an efficient speaker allows them to perform much better. You’ll hear far clearer and more precise sound from a more efficient speaker given the same electrical input. A mere 3dB of greater sensitivity from a speaker requires only half the amplifier power to create the same sound level.
Before leaving the subject of high-frequency performance of these Infinity bookshelf speakers, it’s worth noting that some listeners find the treble response of the Infinity bookshelf speakers to be more pleasant than that of the Klipsch. That’s because the very feature that tends to define and distinguish the Klipsch line, the horn tweeter, can seem somewhat brash and overwhelming to some people. In the final analysis, only your own ears can determine which you’ll prefer.
Infinity Primus P162 bookshelf speakers can accommodate a wide range of input power from the amplifier or receiver. It can be driven with as little as 10 watts but can be used with amplifiers rated up to 150W. That’s quite a bit of power for a little speaker, and being able to handle it says a lot for its quality. We’d like to be able to report on peak handling capacity but the manufacturer doesn’t provide that information; nonetheless, they seem to be able to handle just about any task they’re likely to be given with reasonable volume levels.
The Infinity Primus bookshelf speakers are magnetically shielded to prevent interference from a CRT television or monitor, a feature that can be important given that they’re often used in home theater applications. For convenience as well as ensuring a good cable connection, we like the five-way binding posts which can accept single or dual banana plugs, spade or pin connectors, or bare wire connections.
The Infinity Primus P162 enclosure houses two drivers. The audio heavy lifting is done by a single 6.5-inch low-frequency driver. Its cone is a Metal Matrix Diaphragm, MMD, that has a stiff aluminum core. The rather rigid driver responds quickly resulting in great reproduction across the bass and midrange frequencies of these bookshelf speakers.
The crossover, which is set at a relatively high 3,000Hz, relegates most of the work to the larger driver, but beyond that, sound is routed to the 3/4-inch MMD dome tweeter. The Infinity Primus produces terrifically clear treble that is further enhanced by using an acoustical waveguide that tends to broaden the listening sweet spot significantly.
As is common of bookshelf speakers, the Infinity enclosure design is of the bass reflex type. While generally resulting in less precise bass response than the alternative acoustic suspension design, it is the feature that allows for the quantity of low bass that is produced. Indeed the bass down to the speaker’s lower limit is remarkably clear and strong. The bass reflex port for these speakers fires forward, which can be an advantage in speaker placement, particularly if wall mounting is desired. Many bass reflex ports fire rearward so require empty space behind them to take full advantage of the design.
The Infinity Primus P162s are top contenders for best bookshelf speakers in this price range. They offer great musicality and perform well for listening to stereo music. They’re also flexible enough to function as the main speakers in a home theater setup or as the surround sound speakers. They pair exceptionally well with the Infinity Primus PC350 as the center speaker and are an obvious choice as surround speakers when used with the Infinity Primus P362 floor standing speakers.
Great bass and midrange response combined in a highly efficient speaker.
Spatial presence would be improved if high frequencies extended into the ultrasonic.
In general, one of the best bookshelf speakers available at a great price.