Academy Millenium 1: Very pleased with this little buty of a speaker. Its not only sounding very neutral it´s also a peace of art, if you like woodwork that is. Takes on rock, voices, accoustic, classical, you name it, the dynamics from this small speaker is awesome. The big problem i had was finding an amp that could drive the bass, though small in size it´s certainly heavy on load. Tried separates and integrated amps and finally came up with Musical Fidelity A3, a typically "english" sounding amp with a lot of go in it. Feels like i can live with this combo for a long time.
This is to complete the previous, somewhat too enthusiastic review. For those interested in musical sounding (not just hifi) quality monitors, also listen to Sonus Faber speakers (Signum, Grand Piano, EAII, Guarneri), ProAc 2.5-3.8, Audio Physic (Virgo, Libra, Avanti Century), or good electrostatics. Decide yourself which works best with your room and amplification.
I described previously the merits of the speaker, now let's speak about the problems.
After a time I felt there was too much bass coming out, masking the midrange. It might work better in bass-absorber american rooms. The ScanSpeak Revelator tweeter might be the best measuring softdome tweeter around, but it's not the most musical one: the ScanSpeak 9500 sounds more coherent in my opinion. Because the shallow horn construction, even after break-in there is an etch in the Revelator's upper treble, causing listening fatigue.
Positioning. These speakers were designed to be used in a very specific acoustic environment (see leaflet): absorber front wall, reflective side walls, dispersive back wall. In a normal room, there will be problems. Toeing in drastically ends up in even more masked midrange (this effect heavily depends on the room). The relative distance of the speakers should be at least 2 meters (I've set at 2.2 m), and should be at least 1.5 m away from front wall, and at least 1 m off the side wall. Listening position should be around 1 m off the back wall. With a 2.5 m listening distance, this makes the minimum recommended room size 5x4 m.
Tweaks. 1. Change the spikes to 120 degree cones. 2. don't use the supplied rubbers for fixing the speakers on stands, just put them as they are. 3. put a bass absorber panel behind the speakers
Extreme tweaks These are quite unusual tweaks. Instead of selling and looking for other speaker, I felt they could sound better with a few mods. To make it short, I got the crossover changed, the tweeter recoated, and make some structural mods also inside the cabinet (reflector panels, changed the port and internal stuffing). Anyone interested on these, mail me.
All I can say it was well worth it, the midrange is right now, full-bodied, emotional and not so laid back. Percussion instruments sound MUCH more precise and delineated. Bass is soberer and as much deep as it was, without overhang. It sounds so clear, believable, realistic, full, that I could walk and touch the performers. Is it a perfect speaker? I don't know. It is sufficiently good to motivate me not to buy a Sonus Faber Guarneri. It could be the poor man's SF Guarneri, and is much more beautiful furniture (in cherry), and still less than half the price. It works perfectly with the REL Stadium sub in the corner, no need for bigger speaker. Dynamics is sufficiently large for a 5.5 x 4.5 m sized room. I mean, surprisingly good.
It demands top-quality source and amplification. It's not too power hungry, but needs quality watts. SF Musica and Primare 30.1 work fine, Chord, ATC, Rowland Concentra are excellent, my cj combo is awesome.
For the value, it still deserves a 5 star rating. For quality, it gets 4 at this time, because I managed to make sound it a lot better.
For those making a choice, I warn that the room problems will persist with all other speakers as well, so invest in your room. Good luck.
I wonder this speaker was not reviewed yet. It's a real furniture artwork and provides fantastic musical experience.First thing I noticed was the quality of packaging, easiness of assembling the stands, dust covers for the speakers included. Instructions for placement, cabling, amplification, and measurement data included. Real solid wood cabinet (walnut or cherry), with very thick MDF front and back panels painted in the most beautiful finish I've seen for MDF. The binding posts are somewhat tiny but beautiful again, and you see three Italian signatures on the golden plate carrying the binding posts. The stands are MDF core, solid wood stands, heavy, beautiful and very good sounding. The speakers stay quite stable on them, but few blobs of Blutack make them more children-proof. They are so beautiful that my wife fell in love... with me, again :-) But all this is about reviewing the sound, is it. I think they need unusually long time for burning in. As weeks pass, they sound better and better, new textures appear in the music and the change is especially noticeable with the tweeter and deep bass resolution. Out of the box they sound a little etched, but then transform into pure musical and transparent live event transducers. I would compare them in this respect to Naim CD-players (CDX, CDS II). Construction: 3 driver, 2.5 way, rear ported standmounters, RL4 alignment, very sophisticated crossover network. Scanspeak Revelator tweeter, Chario 130 mm woofers. Woofer slopes are similar, the lower driver adds snap to lower freqs. Let's take a look to the measurements, which come with the speakers. Impedance is really low: cca 3 Ohm most of the audio region, but the resistive character compensates for it. They probably need an amp capable of driving 2 Ohm load. Tube amps from the 4 Ohm tap do it well in my experience. Phase is surpisingly well mannered for this type of speaker. Impulse response is very good, almost electrostatic-like, with very fast decay. Waterfall shows a quick and even decay of stored energy, and indeed, these are very high resolution speakers. No box resonances occur. The BBC-dip around 4 kHz gets more accent I'd like and the treble is a bit higher level above 10 kHz then I'd like. BUT these speakers come with a special placement recommendation called the RLX placement. And if arranged so, they get exactly the right sonic spot. This means toing in quite radically (between 30 and 45 degrees), placing about 3 feets off wall, absorbing front wall, reflecting side walls, absorbing rear wall. Yes, they need a dedicated room for best performance.
OK, sound quality. This depends very heavily on speaker placement and room geometry! The difference is way too much to be neglected. When set up right, the first thing which strikes is the quality of the bass. In spite the 50 Hz spec, these babes get really deep. I had no complaint with organ playback. I had even switched off my REL Stadium subwoofer! You wouldn't expect this from two 130 mm woofers, would you. Again, bass quality and deepness is affected by distance from walls. It's like with subwoofer placement, you have to be aware of phase issues. Then, midrange. First time it seemed overwhelmed by the midbass and treble, but after break-in it turned out they have as good a midrange as it gets. No other speaker up to 10 megabuck and so can even approach it. And when the treble gets right, the midrange is so musically and emotionally communicative it takes your breath away. Experiencing with toe-in angles, you can set the optimum for focus and presence. I think it's a better buy then even larger Chario speakers. Instruments are rendered believable, with firm and stable soundstage, fine layering, outstanding resolution. You will want to change your source equipment to the best. The change is not subtle when switched to high quality vinyl playback. Piano has such a natural reverberance, fast attack, long decay. Just sounds right. I would recommend this speakers fro those who prefer the musicality of CJ amps. It might sound a little forced analogy, but I think they're the match in the speaker world of CJ sound profile. Or, if you want, like a Contax G2 camera with Carl Zeiss G series lens: maybe you sacrifice some of the convenient features of other, but get some of the best quality and resolution, in a beatiful and pretty sized package. If you are tempted to buy a pair after a seductive dealer demo, be sure to arrange a home audition, with your equipment (warning: you might want to change them as well :-), in your room. Check www.hifichoice.co.uk for another (quite objective, as usual, with them) review, www.savantaudio.com for US availability. Rating. Can it be other than 5 stars?