Put all of these sonic characteristics together and you have a system that can bring film soundtracks alive in a special way. In the initial martial arts sequence from Hero [Buena Vista], for example, where the hero, Nameless, and his opponent, Sky, battle to the death, the Infinity system drew me in and built tremendous tension by juxtaposing the fierce clang of sword against spear, while in the background presenting the measured sound of the narrator's voice and the delicate, melodious "plunk" of raindrops falling from pagoda rooftops into catch basins below. As the fight progressed, the Infinity system did a beautiful job with the deep, dissonant twang of the solo koto (or zheng), whose sound serves as a musical metaphor for the fight itself. As the combat became more focused and intense, the sound of the koto became increasingly urgent and frantic until, at the penultimate moment, the strings of the koto burst with a violent snap. Once you hear a soundtrack this rich in detail through a system as articulate as the TSS-4000, you'll never be content going back to a less capable system. For film playback, this is one of the best-sounding "lifestyle" speaker systems I've heard.
The system also performs well on music, but, as I mentioned above, it is not as successful in that context as it is for films. Here's why. On the one hand, the system's treble clarity, midrange openness, wide dispersion, expansive dynamics, and rock-solid bass all served music well. On the other hand, the system's tendency toward slight "pinginess" on hard-hitting transients, its not entirely well-focused soundstaging, and its somewhat skewed midrange tonal balance together left me wishing for more musical refinement, especially in light of the system's price. While the TSS-4000 system could sound great on warm, smoothsounding recordings (for example the SACD version of James Taylor's Hourglass [Sony]), it could also be intolerant of recordings that had a lot of upper midrange content to begin with (for example, the DVD-Audio version of Emmylou Harris' Producer's Cut [Warner Bros.], where the system gave Ms. Harris' voice an unnaturally bright and biting edge). This is where the "lifestyle speaker vs. conventional speaker" distinction looms large. In all fairness, I would say the TSS-4000 system is actually one of the better sounding lifestyle systems I've heard (although this is to concede that many listeners unconsciously hold lifestyle speakers to less stringent sonic standards than they would apply for conventional speakers). However, once we throw open the comparison to include non-lifestyle systems, we will find some at similar prices (for example, Von Schweikert Audio's awardwinning $3745 System 12) that decisively outperform the TSS-4000 system on music.
Is Infinity's TSS-4000 system right for you? The answer depends entirely on your priorities. If you prize a speaker system that offers elegant, flat panel-friendly styling, exquisite and camera-like fit and finish, fantastic installation flexibility, room-filling dynamics, superb bass, and overall sound qualities that are good for music but exceptionally well-suited for film playback, the TSS-4000 system could be a perfect fit.