Increasingly, music enthusiasts are considering simplified high fidelity sound systems designed primarily for streaming. Acoustic Energy AE1 active is a (amplifiers built-in) speaker system that has been stripped down to offer only the essentials. The speakers include high quality components that have been thoughtfully selected for the compact cabinet. Combined with solid state AB amplification, RCA or balanced XLR inputs, manual volume control (more on this later) and active tone controls, the speakers are equally at home in a living room, office or professional studio environment. In many ways this is purest hifi at its minimal best.
Quite simply, when combined with a Bluesound Node 2i or a high end streamer from Auralic or others, most people will control these speakers from their phone or tablet, there really isn't need for anything else. From a speaker manufacturer's standpoint it is often best to leave the challenges of wireless to specialists in the streaming segment of the industry and focus on their core expertise of building speakers.
The benefits of this approach are obvious. The designers at AE are free to make choices about the cabinet, woofer, tweeter, crossover and best matched amplifiers in a "shortest path" design. They do not need to compromise on internal space, external size or cost to accommodate the added complexity and circuitry required to house the wifi or bluetooth features. Plus, as a closed loop design, there is no need for updates, upgrades or similar tasks that will be managed from the source. These are truly future proof.
One of the first things you will notice is the weight of the box. At 17kg (38 lbs), the speaker cabinets are constructed from high density fibre board and superbly finished in high gloss piano or real walnut veneer. Braced internally and tweaked with a slot port to reduce port noise, the AE1 cabinet is heavy and as rigid as a beautifully sculpted tank.
It has been our experience that metal dome tweeters can often be a little edgy but not here. The 27mm tweeter has been carefully voiced and works in tandem with Acoustic Energy's Wide Dispersion Technology (WDT Waveguide) to deliver detailed yet silky smooth highs and an enormous holographic soundstage.
"Pure piston ceramic aluminium cone technology" suggests a drop of marketing but this 5th generation, 125mm ceramic and hard-anodized spun aluminium cone is uniquely light weight and stiffer than rival paper, plastic or composite drivers. The superior strength and speed of this design reduces flex and negates the break up which is typical of other materials.
Focused on performance without compromise, the all-analogue design of the AE1 active speakers includes high quality linear power supplies and dual (2), pair matched 50 watt per channel Class AB amplifiers in each speaker. When used with the XLR inputs they function as a true balanced system which delivers jaw dropping sound. Seperate volume, bass and treble controls allow for a wider range of placement of individually controlled settings for the perfect touch in odd shaped rooms.
Drive Unit: 125mm ceramic aluminium sandwich cone
Tweeter: 25mm aluminium dome
Frequency Range: 42Hz – 28kHz (+/-6dB)
Input Sensitivity: 104dB for 1VRMS @ 1kHzPeak
SPL: 115dB Maximum
Amplifier: Class A/B with linear power supply
Crossover Frequency: 3.5kHz 4th Order Linkwitz-Riley
Inputs: RCA and Balanced XLR
Controls: Volume adjust 0dB to -inf, HF shelf +/-2dB, LF shelf +/-2dB
Voltage: Switchable 110 / 240v
Design: 2 way active
Cabinet: 18mm fibre with bracing and damping panels
Grilles: Slim, cloth magnetic fit
Dimensions (mm): 300 x 185 x 250 (HxWxD)
Weight: 17kg (pair)
Finishes: Piano Black, Piano White and Piano Walnut real wood veneer