ACI Emerald Bookshelf Speakers

Emerald

Small two way speakers

User Reviews (13)

Showing 1-10 of 13  
Nathan Allen   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 17, 2000]
Strength:

Very open transparent image. Yet at the same times it's not cold or harsh.

Weakness:

None

I built the emerald from kit form. During the construction I kept telling myself it will sound good, but not that good. WOW even before the break-in I fell in love with these babies! Just for bragging rights, I brought my emeralds to a circuit city. I stood them up against pair of Infinity RS10. (1200$ a pair) After firing them up, a wide grin spread over the salespersons face and he walked away.
Pinpoint imaging, huge sound stage all for 309$
ACI, truly is the best kept secret in audio.

My system- Keep in mind, im 15 and make 5.50$ an hour!

Harmon Kardon AVR 65 DD DTS 568$
2* Marantz MA500 mono bock amps. (For the Emeralds) 430$
2* 3.2 Cubic feet SV-12 PSA Subwoofer 700$
Marantz CD-6000 Single disk CD player 499$

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Roy   Audiophile [Sep 22, 2000]
Strength:

Value, overall sound quality, build quality, fantastic for stereo or HT

Weakness:

Bass is good, but more would be even better

I've listened to the Emeralds extensively in several environments and systems. One system is my own HT where I now use a set of 5 Emeralds. The other system is a dedicated stereo setup with a pair of Emeralds used on their own and with several different subs. In both systems I've compared them with a lot of the "best" competing mini-monitors in the $500-$2000pr. price range.
I cannot say enough good things about the Emeralds. Not only do they truly look like little "gems", they always perform like them! I've heard HT setups that cost about 5 times as much that didn't have nearly the articulation and accuracy that my Emerald setup has. I've listened to some very highly regarded and expensive monitors switched into the stereo setup that just we not as musical and listenable as the Emeralds. If they cost $1000 a pair, they'd be the "best in class". At $599 pair, what can I say!
As important to me is that the company that builds and sells them is absolutely first rate. ACI goes out of their way to take care of their customers. Bravo!

Similar Products Used: B&W, Dynaudio, Paradigm, M&K, Legacy, Linn
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dylan   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 19, 2001]
Strength:

Very natural, open, three-dimensional. Fantastic sonics at very reasonable price. Beautiful wood cabinetry

Weakness:

Bass is very tight but benefits from good sub

Frankly, these little beasts are shockingly good. Summary now: If looking at monitors under $1000 place your order today. If looking at monitors under about $2000 take at least a close look or maybe check out their Sapphires.
I've seriously auditioned at least 15 to 20 different small monitor speakers. A number of these auditions have been in my own setup, some of them have been dealer setups. I've found that listening in a dealer's showroom really doesn't count for much. Rarely does it sound even similar at home.
Here's the point, I've carefully listened to some of the most well reviewed monitors in the $500-$2000+ price range. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. The Emerald LEs can hang in there with any of them, and outplay most of them. The under $1K pair monitors for the most part have serious sonic flaws with the exception of the Emeralds. Well, they aren't exactly overly powerful in the bass, but I'd rather have their tight, defined bass than the bloated upper bass that some of these speakers have.
I bought the Emerald LEs partly on the basis of looks. Wanted a very attractive pair of speakers for my bedroom system. First choice was the Sonus Faber Concerto Home. I figured if the Emerald LEs at 1/3 the price could do a passable job, that's what I wanted. Well, they've gone way beyond that! They do so much more than what I expected. First off, they are beautiful to behold. High-end look and feel at mass-market price. Then, the sound> Open, clean, always musical and emotionally involving. After a couple of months I found myself spending more time listening to this little bedroom system. I've been so impressed that I will probably order a pair of the new Jaguar LE with sub modules for my main system. Neither the Thiels or the Maggies I use in that system have completely satisfied me. If ACI can do this at under $700, what can they do for some real money?

Similar Products Used: Sonus Faber, B&W, Paradigm, Totem, Monitor Audio, NHT
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tom   an Audiophile [Mar 21, 1999]

Upon opening the box which was double packed I was impressed with the weight. Its obvious the proper construction principles were used. Too often manufacturers cut cost by using thinner or less dense materials. Not so with the Emeralds. I ordered them in Cherry and being a woodworker my self I am very piticular. The vaneering on them is Fine Furnature Quality. They look like some of the high quality humidors that sell for over $700.00. I purchased them for rear channels but for the first 10 days I had them set up as my mains with and without mt ACI Titan Sub. Only a single word can describe them, AMAZING! The highs are crystal clear without harshness. Cymbals sound as the should. The midrange is open and extremely accurate. Dianna Krall sounds as if shes standing in your living room and your head is inside a Steinway. Imaging is pinpoint and the Emeralds completely disappear in the enviornment. 5 of these in a home theater would be mindblowing with the correct sub. The ACI Titan fit that bill perfectly. All of the monitor size speakers under $1000 such as B&W, PSB, Paradigm, that I've heard had problems in either the mids or the highs. The Emerald simply just did it correct. In most of the above metioned products you will get more bass but it may be lacking in the detail. The Emeralds bass is accurate but not in your face which is the way I prefer it. I have said it before that ACI is the best kept secret in audio today. I have not found any company that offers so much for so little. The average income earner can have high end audio without the associated price tag. The comany is called ACI.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Colin Fritzke   an Audiophile [Aug 30, 1999]

The Audio Concepts Emeralds are available in either fully assembled or kit form. The following is a review of the kits that I purchased and built myself.
I am a "do it myself" kind of guy. After building my own subwoofers a couple of years ago (yes, 2 of them; each using a 12" Audio Concepts DV12 woofer), I've been learning a lot about the art of speaker design. Designing a decent subwoofer is relatively simple, but designing a good full-range or semi-full range speaker isn't quite so easy. It requires sophisticated measuring equipment/test facilities, a good understanding of electronics, LOTS of patience, and lastly, a really good pair of ears. Anyone can cobble together a box and put some transducers and a crossover in it, but there's no guarantee that it will sound good. Loudspeaker design is as much an art form as it is a science.

Having learned all this, I decided that building a set of speakers from "scratch" wouldn't be a great way to go for me at this point. I do however believe that there is far better value in building speakers from a well-designed kit than purchasing commercially-built speakers. Notice that I didn't say "cheaper", because there are many inexpensive loudspeakers out there that sound remarkably good. However, if you want true high-end sound but are on a budget, building speakers from a kit design is the way to go. Dollar for dollar, the quality you can expect from good DIY speakers will greatly surpass what you'd find at the local stereo shops. You usually get much higher quality components, a much stiffer cabinet (a good thing when it comes to speakers), plus the freedom to choose your own cabinet finish. I like having something a little different from everyone else, so building my own personalized system really appealed to me.

After researching all kinds of loudspeaker kits from just about every kit vendor I could find, I decided that the ones for me would be a set of three Audio Concepts Emeralds. I went for these because I wanted three identical speakers for the front left, centre and right speakers for my home theatre/music system. I also wanted a vertically-oriented center channel that didn't look ridiculous on top of my TV. Deep bass wasn't a concern because I already have 2 subwoofers, so some small mini-monitors with good mids and highs would be adequate. After a few inquiries, I found out that the Emeralds use Vifa M13SG and D27SG drivers, which are very high-quality units that are often used as original equipment in high-end commercial loudspeakers. ACI also has developed a reputation for fantastic speakers, some of which are Stereophile Recommended Components. While many audiophiles cringe at even the thought of making a purchase without actually listening to a piece of equipment first, that wasn't possible for me so I had to rely on reviews. I might add that their customer service is top-notch, based on experiences I had when I ordered my subwoofers a few years ago. I just had a real good feeling that I wouldn't be disappointed with this purchase, either.

The construction process was straight forward and the kit documentation was excellent. I completed them about a month ago, then spent considerable time breaking them in, as recommended. After having several weeks to listen my new speakers with a wide variety of program material, I can say that without a doubt that I am very, very happy with their performance. Some of my listening notes included the following:

1) Highs are extremely clean and detailed, yet very smooth and not fatiguing. Nice, balanced mids with just a hint of bass (no audible "bass bump" like is so commonly found in other mini-monitors with the exception of the NHT Super One/Zero). There is enough bass there to get good sound in small rooms, but these babies are really designed to shine with a subwoofer, just like the little NHT's.

2) Speech is very intelligible. Vocals are simply incredible. Compared with my old Mission 731s, music and movies just have a much more life-like sound to them. Acoustic instruments sound real, especially guitar, piano and drums.

3) No audible distress/distortion from the speakers unless the volume is completely cranked up to ridiculous levels. If used with a subwoofer/high-pass crossover, high volumes are not a problem. While these aren't THX speakers, they put out enough high-quality sound to satisfy in all but the most demanding high-volume applications.

4) Superior off-axis response, especially for the centre channel. This is something that I just haven't heard from the common "woofer-tweeter-woofer" center channel speakers on the market. The Emerald is simply excellent in this role. I've read lots about speaker design, and now my listening confirms that getting three identical, vertically-oriented L/C/R speakers for the front channels of a home theatre sounds best to my ears. It just makes for such a smooth, coherent and well-balanced front image.

5) Comparisons - If I had to compare these to the sound of something else out there, it would have to be the M&K S-85 mini-monitors, which have a similar driver compliment and size. The M&K is quite a remarkable speaker in its own right, but way over-priced. NHT Super Zeros sound thin next to the Emerald, I would imagine the Super One would be a little more similar due to the larger woofer. But the quality of the drivers and crossover in the Emerald make this little speaker a far better investment than the NHT's, in my opinion.

To summarize, I love these speakers. Are they the last word in accuracy? No, but then I don't believe that there is a loudspeaker made that doesn't compromise in some way. There may be better speakers out there for this type of application, but they cost double or even triple the price of the Emeralds. Plus, I got the satisfaction of building them myself. As it has already been said in some of the other reviews here, I think ACI is one of the best kept secrets in audio. Check them out at http://www.audioc.com


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
John Andrew   an Audiophile [May 11, 1999]

I've owned many speakers of varying prices over the years. I've listened to countless more speaker systems. The Emerald from ACI is an incredible bargain. They're built like little jewels, and they sound like music. So many speakers that are marketed for home-theater crap out on stereo music, not these little beasts. They image like crazy! They have a clean transparent sound that is far beyond they're price point. I've got three across the front with an ACI Quake sub in a secondary system. This system sounds so much better than most systems I've heard that cost WAY more. Highly Recommended! BTW, a pair of them does quite well even without a sub . . .

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
John   Audiophile [Mar 05, 2001]
Strength:

Good midrange

Weakness:

Weak Bass

These are great speakers, for the price. Their weak in the lows, so I strongly recommend adding a subwoofer to compliment them.

They blow mass marketed speakers away (ie: Klipsch, BOSE), but aren't up to snuff with similarly priced Tannoy's or KEF's.

Remember, listen for yourself!

Similar Products Used: KEF, Tannoy, Klipsch
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Peter   Audiophile [Jan 04, 2001]
Strength:

A great center. Clear vocals and music.

Weakness:

Not as forward or crisp as my ACI Sapphire mains. I usually goto stereo mode if listening to an opera DVD or live concert. But then, the Sapphires are five times the price of the Emerald.

I built the Emerald from a kit. I was extremely loyal to the plans so the finished product should sound like the purchased units. I am very happy with the sound and clarity of the Emerald. It reproduces voices well, the number one role of a center. I am seriously considering building two more for mains in the HT and moving the Sapphires to a two channel room. The sound is a little warmer than a lot of small speakers I auditioned, such as PSB, B&W, Infinity, Polk. The Emerald covers all the necessary octaves required of the center. I set mine to large to get better male vocals. The speaker naturally rolls off around 60Hz so the sub can still fill the lower end.

There is a little off center roll off on the tweeter so it really sounds better in the vertical position rather than on its side. The non-kit has the tweeter pointed lightly down for this position as well.

As a side note, I am one of the people who did not believe in speaker break in. When I first fired up the Emerald it was fairly bright, the sound I did not like in the other aforementioned speakers. I set it up in the basement against a speaker in reverse phase and let it play for a couple of days. The purpose was to make sure the speaker was breaking in and not me. After a few days I got a completely different sound. Much better.

I highly recommend this speaker for HT and audio applications. It integrates well with all the other ACI speakers.

P

Similar Products Used: Too embarassed to respond.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Mike Tarr   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 28, 2000]
Strength:

Great clarity and tone. Midrange is exceptional

Weakness:

None so far

Excellent bookshelf speakers overall. A tad bright at first, but just as predicted, this evaporated after breakin, which took at least 60 hours. Wonderful imaging capability and easy to drive. I use an NAD 340 amplifier and NAD CD player in addition to running my computer through these speakers (I threw away the speakers that came with the computer). These speakers live up to the other reviews located here. By the way, I bought factory seconds, and I could not even find the flaws indicated in the ad on ACI. They appear to be perfect. I also own a pair of Nestorovic 5AS and I matched the mid and tweeter against these and found the Emeralds more to my liking! Of Course the Nestys are 14 years old.

Similar Products Used: Polks, Paradigms
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
John Desmond   Audiophile [Oct 20, 1999]
Strength:

The emeralds aer fantastic little speakers. Really great imaging, open, transparent and they have GUTS. Not wiry sounding like many small speakers. I've compared them to far pricier stuff and they've held up real well. Some of my friends have liked them better than the $3000 ProAcs I played them against! Oh, they are really good looking and well built, no plastic crap here . .

Weakness:

You can't here them in a store, have to purchase direct (but they have a money-back guarantee). I would't buy anywhere else. .

These babies rock!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 13  

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