These speakers have been in my system now for a little over 5 years. I purchased them used, as I have done for most of my equipment, and therefore was not able to audition them prior to purchase. I do live in a large metropolitan area, and do have access to auditions of many brands, but was not able to hear these. I did my research, and read all the reviews I could find, before giving the nod to these.
They did come in the original packaging, which was pretty extensive. I remember thinking it would likely take the Samsonite gorilla to damage these through the crating. Out of the box, inspection of the wood finish,(mine are black ash), revealed exceptional quality. A little knuckle knock on them revealed a very well braced, solid cabinet Set up was pretty straight forward, they were put about 3" out from the back, and 3.5" from the sides of my 14x20x8 listening room. Hook up was done by banana plugs, single wire, with jumpers in place.
I'm going to say now that my first listen was a major disappointment. The sound was as others described as thin, lean, and lacking any real bass. I immediately thought that I had made a mistake with this purchase, and thought of reselling them. Instead, I decided it was time to do an amplifier upgrade, my present amp was a Yamaha MX-1, rated at 200 watts RMS, with ratings down to 2 ohms. My original thought was that should be plenty of power for most any speaker, as it had always been plenty for all my previous speakers.
After about 2 weeks I was able to procure a Bryston 4B ST. Connecting the new amp, brought immediate life to the Aerials. The new amp really opened them up and made them much fuller, with much better bass. But, being one that occasionally enjoys listening at elevated levels, I found myself pushing the Brytston to clipping. As I really liked the sound I was getting, I searched for a more powerful Bryston, and found a great deal on a 14B ST about 4 hours away. End of clipping problems. I really cannot stress enough, the power sources' ability to deliver current necessary to drive these. The bigger Bryston really pushes the Aerials effortlessly. Everything I had heard or read about these speakers being non-fatiguing was true. Vocals, particularly female, are seamless and natural. Upper frequencies are airy and open, but never harsh. Bass is deep and satisfying, again, very natural.They are also very revealing in that they respond to any changes/upgrades I make in the system. They have responded particularly well to cable changes.
Recently I have added a pair of Aerials' SW-12 subs. They have integrated beautifully with the 7B's, and truly afford me full range without calling attention to themselves, (probably another review in itself). I also think that with the subs taking on some of the heavy lifting on the bottom end, that the mid and upper frequencies have benefitted as well.
I rated these speakers highly for performance, but down a notch for value, mostly due to the power requirements these speakers demand, meaning additional associated cost. They definitely require copious amounts of it. I've read reviews where users were matching these with AV receivers, or amps similar to my Yamaha, and although some were pretty glowing, I can"t help but think that they really aren't getting the full picture of the way these can perform.
I guess the best praise I can give these, is that they have stayed in my system so long, in fact, have hardly moved from original set up position. I'm 57, and have been an enthusiast since my early teens. I've listened to countless speakers in countless systems, I still frequent audio shops in the greater Washington/Baltimore metro area, and attend local audio shows, ands haven't heard anything that is realistically within my budget, including the newer 7T's, to consider making any changes. Any initial regrets I may have had are long gone, the Aerial 7B's are here to stay.
The speakers I have been living with since I was in college were a pair of Klipsch KG2s. I was VERY happy with these speakers for years. I felt they had tremendous bass, and were very dynamic. Years later a friend of mine got a pair of Aerial 7B’s. Of course I went over to listen to them. At first I was unimpressed. My Klipschisms were defiantly getting in the way. Then one evening I realized the 7Bs had MUCH more bass than my speakers did – and a LOT more detail – and this was with a lower watt TUBE amp. I then knew I needed new speakers…
So last November, I started my search for new speakers. I first bought home a pair of brand new B&W 804’s. I was trying to spend less than $3500. I found these speakers to have WAY too little bass, and they were kind of funny looking. They also did not have the dynamics I was looking for rock music (Rush, Depeche Mode, Metallica, Sting), for classical, and for movies. They were also overly bright.
I then tried a pair of brand new JM Lab Electra 926’s. They have a titanium(esque) tweeter, single mid, and dual bass drivers. Most everything I listened to was way too laidback. Some parts of some songs, like the solo acoustic guitar on “Big Love” on Fleetwood Mac The Dance, were exceptional. But the vocals sucked, and the bass was poor…. TOTALLY lifeless, even after 350 hours being driven by my Ayre/Cardas burn-in CD.
I listened to Revel F30’s – they sounded even worse. I then listened to Theil – their new mini floor stander all the way up to their mighty 7’s. They all sounded too laid back for me… plus the ones in my price range had too little bass.
I then tried a pair of Gradient Revolutions (with passive crossovers). They imaged MUCH better than all of the previous speakers, but lacked character. And they were seriously inefficient (like 80 db) and lacked ANY dynamics at ANY volume. From the same store I auditioned Joseph Audio’s new asymmetric crossover designs (in a word: yuck. I have NO idea what Sterophile reviewers are listening to), Montanans, Triangle, and some others… anything under $8,000 lacked bass
I thought I had enough messing around, so I found an old used pair of B&W Matrix 801’s… the ones with the big 12” woofer. Well, WAY TOO MUCH BASS (yes, it is possible). It was totally unrealistic bass in my 12x20x8½ foot living room….
I then tried the Meadowlark Audio Heron-I’s. These were a demo pair (they are soon coming out with the Heron2’s), and were selling for $4000. This started creeping my price point up. The Heron’s were very sweet, but their dual 7” bass drivers and the transmission line cabinet ALSO had too much bass – and it was not as crisp as the Matrix 801’s. NOTE: I actually wanted to hear the new BASSIC transmission line Osprey – but the two Meadowlark dealers in Chicago basically said they would not order one until they sold their current Shearwaters and Herons – and they still wanted close to full price for these old models…
In retrospect the only speaker that matched the 7B’s performance were the new Dynaudio Contour S3.4. There were three things I did not like about the new Dynaudios: 1) for $5000, I only got a 2 ½ way with 3 drivers. 2) to get a 3 way (with 4 drivers like the 7B’s) I would have had to spend $8000 – and they don’t even have those in the US yet 3) they look a little TOO modern.
My budget was now up to $5,000. I next went to Quintessance in Morton Groove, IL. I waited to go there because I thought I knew what I wanted there: Audio Physics Virgo IIs (they use to be $5,000). I had heard the Virgo II’s driven by Spectral years ago, and thought they were outstanding. I brought to demo the new Virgo III’s (they just jumped up to $7500). I just could not get enough good deep bass, and the ring radiator tweeter seemed brighter than my old Klipsch horns!
I then saw how OUTSTANDING the 7B’s looked in Cherry (my friend had black). I then decided to take home the Aerials. WOW! The bass was tremendous – so detailed, and just the right amount. The mid was so clear on Fleetwood Mac The Dance. And Metallica just rocks. And movies: absolute the BEST I have heard. But most surprising was the tweeter: the speed of a titanium tweeter is expected, but the sweetness of the Aerial tweeter is the most surprising of all! In real life the 7B’s Cherry wood cabinet is EASILY the best I have ever seen on a speaker – topping Dynaudio, B&W, Meadowlark, Joseph, even Audio Physic. With a new pair of Transparent Music Wave Super XL bi-wire the Aerial 7B is complete!
About a year ago I started my first venture into hi-end audio. Had been using pretty decent mass produced equipment (Denon/JBL). Upgraded amplifier and noticed improvement. Upgraded CD player to an older Wadia 6 and was totally amazed at amount of musical information I had been missing. Started looking for speakers to complete my system. Listened to PSB Gold i, Joseph Audio RM22si, Revel F30, Paradigm Studio 100/v.2 and Aerial 7B and 6 in local stereo shops. I was taken by the Aerial 7Bs when first listening to them (they say you will KNOW when you find the right speaker-something just clicked)! Unbelievable depth and accuracy to my ears. By far the best cabinetry in this price range (2 inch MDF on 3 sides-HEAVY). My humble 12'x 14' living room is now sonic wonderland! Would have to rate the PSB Stratus Gold i as my second choice of the speakers I demoed. Also a very well rounded speaker. Looking to upgrade speaker cables next to a good bi wire setup.
Associated equipment: Threshold T200 amplifier Wadia 6 CD player (running direct to amplifier via XLRs)
This is a follow-up to my February post. I've had the 7Bs for 6 months, and all the break-in is done, including the MIT SHotguns (750). I love these speakers..in my opinion they do best with acoustic and vocals, but just don't do well with electric, rock, etc (not necessarily a bad thing). I had reason to call the company twice, and each time Michael Kelly answered the phone and spent time helping me with my questions.