Pros: Extremely powerful, dynamic sound with audiophile-level sound quality/accuracy
Cons: Size for some, each individual speaker has to be plugged in, green LED lights in the back can be distracting in the darkest rooms
It was a couple of years after owning the Bose system that I purchased my first REAL audio system. At a local audio boutique, I purchased Paradigm Monitor 7 v.3s with matching center and ADP surrounds with the PW2200 subwoofer and Marantz SR7500 receiver. This system made me see/hear the light. What a difference between this set up and the Bose Lifestyle 12 system I had. I owned this system for about 10 years happily, until I was able to purchase what I felt would be a significant upgrade. So I became a member of AVS and did a whole bunch of research, talking to people, looking and listening to all sorts of speakers like Aerial Acoustics, higher end Paradigms, Focal, Martin Logan etc. Through all the research, I was led to JTR and Seaton Sound. From all the positive reviews I have read on these speakers, regarding their power, dynamics, as well as audiophile clarity and accuracy, impressing many naysayer audiophiles, I felt like I found the perfect upgrade. I like to listen LOUD on occasion, but not at the expense of clarity. It's like Mark Seaton made these speakers especially FOR me. It was a large chunk of money that I was extremely afraid to spend, especially since there was no way for me to audition them before I purchased them. I had to go by what I read and take everyone's word for it. I'm by no means rich, but I justified the cost because I knew I'd have these speakers for years and years to come. So I took the plunge...
Ordering: After I decided to take the plunge, I gave Mark a call and when he picked up, he was very enthusiastic, helpful and passionate about his speakers. This instilled further confidence in my purchase. Dealing with Mark was as smooth and as easy as anybody could ever want. He always answered my phone calls, and the one or two times he wasn't around, he always returned my calls. I placed my order for three Catalyst 12C speakers and two SubMersive HP subwoofers. A little while later, I ordered Sparks for surrounds, and not only did Mark help me with a method to mount them on my wall, but he actually had me ship the LCD monitor wall mounts he recommended to him so he could mount them to the Sparks, so when they came, all I had to do was screw the mount in the wall, and mount the speaker. At the time, my theater room still wasn't completed, but the wait for the speakers was painful regardless.
Delivery: The day finally arrived. A UPS freight tractor trailer rumbled it's way down my residential block, hitting tree limbs and trying to maneuver the tight side streets. When he found the address, he pulled out a pallet that weighed about 750 pounds!!! He lowered the pallet and rolled it into my driveway. Once he got them where he wanted them, he looked at me as he wiped the sweat off his brow asking me what the hell was in the boxes. I told him home theater speakers and he just seemed dumbfounded. He just paused and said "okay, cool." I signed, and was left with this in my driveway, with the daunting task of bringing it all inside.
Unboxing: First thing I noticed was the speakers were packaged really well. I found no shipping damage what so ever, even the boxes themselves were in tip top shape, so props to UPS freight for that. When I pulled the box off of them, I gazed at them for a while in amazement that I owned these monsters. I knocked on them and WOW! VERY solid build, completely inert. It seemed like I was knocking on a solid piece of beautiful oak wood. The black oak finish is very nice. The other finishes probably look really beautiful.
Hook up: Hook up was very straight forward. No need for an extensive writeup here. XLR cables from my Integra DHC-80.3 to the speakers, plug in the speakers and that's it.
First Impression: My theater room STILL wasn't done at this point, so I lugged the speakers into the bedroom and hooked them up. This room is less than ideal, to say the least, but it's the same room my Paradigms were in so for comparison sake, I guess it was good. As soon as the first sound came out of these speakers, I was smiling so hard my cheeks hurt, yet I couldn't stop smiling They completely annihilated the Paradigms in every way. Power and dynamics, obviously. That was a given as I was expecting that to be out of this world, but what really surprised me is the clarity of these speakers. The difference between my Paradigms and the Seaton Cat 12Cs was MUCH more dramatic than the difference between the Bose speakers and the Paradigms, and that really is saying a lot. The Paradigms were wonderful speakers. I was able to hear every breath, every slight nuance of the recording that I never before heard from ANY speaker. The speakers surpassed every expectation I had. Imaging was wonderful, soundstage expanded past the outer edges of the speakers, even in the crappy bedroom, and every genre of music that I threw at it was reproduced with stunning accuracy, whether it be folk, rock, blues, jazz, hip-hop, EDM etc. The Cat 12Cs performed wonderfully with everything, and the SubMersive HPs were punchy, tight, accurate and terrifyingly powerful. A perfect match for the Cat 12Cs.
Then I popped in Iron Man 2. The first movie I have ever heard on these speakers. The dynamics were so huge, they actually scared me. At the beginning when Iron man is flying through the air and he lands on the stage, his landing almost made my heart shoot out of my chest! The whole house jumped off the foundation and the dog was hiding under the kitchen table downstairs. From that moment, I knew I made the right choice. I continued to listen to these speakers like this until the theater room was complete. I didn't want to right a review immediately, I wanted to own the speakers for some time before I wrote a review so I would be more familiar with them and my review would be more accurate.
Long Term Impressions: Well, my theater room has been done for quite some time and I have owned these speakers for over a year now. Over a year of flawless performance. I never had one glitch or problem with the amplifiers or anything. Just flick the switch, and they are ready to rock.
I just treated my theater room a bit, which is still less than ideal with it's extremely low ceilings (about 7 feet). At first without treatment, the room acoustics were actually WORSE than they were in the bedroom. After some help from Bryan Pape at GIK, I ordered a few panels and started treating the room, although there is much more to do, re-ran Audyssey, and was ready to enjoy the great sound the Seatons had to offer. The sonic clarity STILL amazes me to this day, as well as the power and dynamics. I haven't had any itch to upgrade them. Maybe only the processor, but the speakers are here to stay for sure. I know I've said this already, but I can't stress it enough. Movies are crystal clear, dynamic and exciting and music sounds exceptional, accurate, lush, natural and dynamic, just as it should.
And as for the SubMersive HPs, I don't think I have ever heard bass this punchy, tight, defined and accurate before, not to mention the limitless power this sub seems to have. You can feel the bass pounding in your chest with these, and they don't even have to try. The bass is NEVER boomy or muddled, never sloppy. Just tight, defined and smooth from the crossover point at 80 Hz, to below what us humans can hear (below 20 Hz). Owning these speakers now for over a year, I have YET to see the limit light come on, and I have tried. I popped in the Blu-ray of The Blue Man group, which is a fantastic sounding concert with an aggressive assault of percussion instruments to really show off the Seaton Cat 12Cs and SubMersive HPs. On my system the way it is set up, reference is 73 on the volume. I cranked this concert to 85, which is OVER 10 dB OVER reference!!!! I had a friend with me and he couldn't hear me as I screamed at the top of my lungs directly down his ear canal. That's how loud it got in my theater room with these. I walked over to the back of the speakers and subs, and the limit light was dark as night. I couldn't believe it. These speakers will play as loudly as any normal person, or even slightly crazy person could ever want, and they maintain their composure and sonic clarity at these ear crushing levels, which I find truly astonishing.
Using compression drivers, some may think that these speakers may become fatiguing or that they may sound harsh. Let me tell you, from owning and listening to these speakers for over a year, they are anything but. They are actually, to my ears, quite warm sounding. The sound is incredibly detailed, without being bright at all, lush and very natural sounding. It doesn't dissect the source material, like studio monitors showing every detail of music, as if to put a magnifying glass over the recording, but it sounds very natural, as if the the music was being performed right there in front of you. Every person I have shown these speakers to were all left amazed. These speakers are truly a hybrid between audiophile speakers and PA speakers. It's the best of both worlds.
Summary: So basically, these speakers have surpassed every expectation I had and continue to amaze me more than a year later. They sound more than good enough to satisfy audiophiles while being able to bring your room to concert like levels and beyond. The SubMersive HP is also the best subwoofer I have ever heard. It is extremely accurate and would sound phenomenal for ANYBODY, whether it be a hardcore audiophile who listens to jazz, or a EDM bass head who wants to rattle his house off the foundation.
If I had to list any downsides, the only ones I can think of that might be a limiting factor for some people is that you have to plug each individual speaker into a wall outlet, which I had no problem with. Maybe size, which again I had no problem with, but others might. And the last thing, and I'm being REALLY picky here, is the green lights on the back of the speakers can be distracting at times when listening to music with the lights out or during a dark scene in a movie. I wish there was a switch that could turn them off, but no biggie. I just stuck a little piece of tape over the lights which solved the problem.
All in all, I couldn't be happier with these speakers and recommend them to ANYBODY who wants all the dynamics that movies and music have to offer without compromising audio quality. I can't recommend them enough. Mark, thank you for building such wonderful speakers!
Here are some pictures of my theater: