AAD C-880 Floorstanding Speakers

AAD C-880 Floorstanding Speakers 


  • 3 Way floor Standing Loudspeaker
  • Drivers: 2x8" Woofer
  • Sensitivity: 92dB
  • Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 to 250 watts RMS
  • Dimensions: 1240mm High x 300mm Wide x 380mm Deep


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[Oct 17, 2008]
Audio Enthusiast


Excellent balance
Natural tonality
Outstanding dynamics
HUGE value for money!


Slightly tipped up in treble
Lateral imaging not as strong as some

A couple of months ago, I was looking for something to replace an older pair of Vandersteen 2C's. I happened across a great deal on the AAD C-880 from Music for Pleasure in St. Louis. I had heard some of the AAD speakers previously, was pretty impressed by their performance and for the price, these were just too tempting to pass up. AAD is designed by the venerable Phil Jones of Acoustic Energy and Phil Jones Bass fame so they have a pretty good pedigree. The C-880 is the largest speaker in the "C" line and took a little muscle to uncrate and get in place but nothing out of the ordinary for a large tower. They are finished extremely well and only very close inspection reveals a vinyl finish rather than a real wood veneer. I guess cutting some corners on finish help keep the costs in line but the trade of here seems minimal. Very handsome aesthetics that would look good in just about any decor (so the better half won't complain much!).

Upon firing up the speakers right out of the box, I immediately noticed that there was something amiss. I was hearing a rather ugly "fuzziness" in the mid's from the right speaker. After a bit of experimentation and tinkering, I discovered that the midrange driver in one of the speakers was indeed bad. A little online investigation revealed that there is a known issue with a run of drivers from AAD's OEM where the ferro-fluid used in the driver had a problem. I contacted AAD directly and they immediately recognized the problem and supplied me with new midrange drivers (I'm at a bit of an advantage since AAD is right in the St. Louis area and I was able to get them directly from Eric, their US sales manager!). They were easy enough to swap out and corrected the problem. A+ marks for customer service!

OK, but how do they sound? Well, in a nutshell, the C-880 plays WAY out of its price league! Upon first listen, they seemed a little harsh and closed in, probably because the tweeter is titanium and the other dynamic drivers need some loosening up. Give the C-880 about 100 to 200 hours and you are going to be a very happy camper. The first thing that always strikes me when listening is how smooth and natural these sound. Keep in mind that one of my favorite speakers of all time, and something I lust after, are Quad's, so my standards in this area are pretty high. Another place that the C-880 excels is in dynamics. They can really give you the visceral impact of an orchestra bearing down on something like Prokofiev's 5th or Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. On harder edged rock material, you will get the punch of drums and guitars like very few speakers can give. Put on some Kenny Wayne Shepherd or Pearl Jam and see what I mean. Along with that dynamic impact is that smoothness previously mentioned and a tonal composure that stays intact across the spectrum. This is something that few speakers achieve and maintain. The midrange fundamentals are just divine. Listening to Norah Jones or Dido or Feist, or even Anna Netrebko you realize the fundamental “rightness" that is floating out of the speakers. Acoustic guitars from Clapton or Rodrigo & Gabriella are right on the mark and resolved incredibly well. You can easily discern finger movements on the fret board and the micro-dynamics of the resonating guitar body as they play. Driver integration seems incredibly good for a multi driver system, with the tweeter being maybe just a hair forward if at all, and I only say this as a matter of comment on just a little extra sparkle in the top octaves. Considering that these are designed by Phil Jones should give some indication to their bass performance, which is outstanding. If they have any downfalls in the bottom registers, it may be that the very low end fundamentals of a bass drum or pipe organ are just slightly "wooly" in texture. However, in listening to the latest version of Pictures on DG with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, I can get a sense of where the bass drum actually resides on the stage in the powerful shots during the final movement and that is a rare feat that most speakers cannot get right. Imaging is very good, with instruments firmly in place and with great depth. The only reservation I have is that the image soundstage is extremely good but doesn't really extend much beyond the extent of the speakers, but this may be purely a function of my room and setup; I don't think I have them optimized yet. I need to experiment more with toe-ins and back tilts. The C-880 sort of impresses me as a poor man's Dynaudio.

For the dollar spent, if you don't check these out, I think you may need to seek help! The price to performance ratio on the C-880 at the full retail of $1600.00 per pair is unbelievable and for $800.00, a minor miracle. I've listened to hundreds of loudspeakers over the years and very few have surprised me as the C-880 has. If you're looking for a great transducer for the front end of a home theater or just a two channel music system, it's hard to go wrong, just make sure you get the updated midrange drivers and let the speaker "cook" a while. Your rewards will be great for such a nominal investment!

Customer Service

Absolutely beyond repraoch. The personal attention from AAD is fantastic!

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