Acoustic Energy AE1 Floorstanding Speakers

AE1

User Reviews (16)

Showing 1-10 of 16  
ravar   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 31, 2006]
Strength:

Transparency. Mid-range clarity is superb.

Weakness:

Bass. Cold treble (could be my system though).

I have a small room. VERY small. It's incredibly awkward to fit in my hi fi and leave a good listening position so bought these. I did have Celestion A1s which were quite frankly too big. They were veiled and fantastically bassy but only good for dance/rock in my room. I sold them off and hunted for a bargain and bought some AE1 MKIIs for a STEAL. £300!! Admittedly without stands but I'm buying some enourmous industrial looking cones for the bottom of the speakers to perch on some sand filled atacama stands that are ok. Sound should be better after cones arrive.

I'm running them with a 100 watt (minimum needed as these are HARD to drive) MVL A2+ amp which is very high quality and was £1500 5 years ago. (I got it from ebay for £300, another bargain). I'm using studio speaker cable and solid silver gold plated interconnects (ebay again, these are great by the way!). My source is a highly modified Marantz CD 63SE that sounds more like a Naim CD5.

The sound is good. Much better than the Celestion A1s and my previous Mission Elegante speakers. However, they do not immediately grab you. You need to listen to them over a lond period and with lots of CDs, preferably at night. I am not getting 3D imaging at the moment but I think this is to do with 3 things, the speaker cable which is basically crap, the lack of good isolation on the stands and my room which only allows me to be 3m /14 feet from the speakers.

If I get 3D imaging then these will be perfect speakers. They do lack bass but I have an MJ Acoustics Reference I sub for that. (VERY similar to a Rel Storm. ) WIth this in place the sound is very well balanced and doesn't over-emphasise anything at all. The treble is perhaps the only weakness other than the bass. It is slightly cold but then this could be due to my CD player which has a slightly cold sound.

These speakers have fabulous resolving power and expose great detail in music. Voices are brilliant through these speakers too, very realistic and unveiled. The music is not relaxing through these speakers and there is a real immediacy and great energy to the music that is very engaging but in a way tiring. It's bizarre. Still, I'm going to keep them as it only becomes tiring after a good hour or so and I'm sure cables or other mods could remedy this.

They look great too, really cute. They are built to a very high standard and exude class. (Mine are rosewood). They respond hugely to system changes too and you can really hear cable changes through these for example so choose your system well and audition if you can, unlike me! They also need a meter or so from side walls and the back wall to sound their best but if you've all this then buy them!

Look on Ebay (UK)... £300!! Although they usually go for more - £450+. Still: Bargain.

Customer Service

Its Ebay...

Similar Products Used: Celestion A1, Mission Elegante, Mission 780
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dave B   AudioPhile [Jul 27, 2006]
Strength:

AE1 MK-II
Superb detail and clarity

Excellent soundstage - speakers disappear!

Unbelievable dynamic range - turn the volume up they just get louder, no compression or loss over control. Unlike any other speaker I've owned or heard in the respect

Their sound does it for me, but you do get high-class cabinets and quality drive units, these are just a nice bonus

Small? This may appeal to some people

Weakness:

AE1 MK-II
You need to buy rigid high quality, high stands (and fill them with sand). Get the HF unit or if poss mid-bass unit in line with your ears when in your comfy listening seat to get the rewards!

Quite expensive (even second hand) but you get what you pay for - the're worth it!

Forget floor shaking bass; bass is there alright, but not probably what you're used to. A sub is a must if you want 'full range'. But do make sure it can integrate properly as my REL didn't - is was passable, but I knew I'd got a band-pass where the A1's couldn't go down quite that low and the REL couldn't go up quite that high. The casual listener wouldn't notice though, so it really isn't that obvious. I spent half my time switching the REL 'on' for some music and switching it 'off' for other stuff.

A real gem and eye-opener as to what can be done with a cone loudspeaker, but ulimately floored by their inadequate low frequency grunt and detail, although I could blame my sub?

Watchout for perished mib-bass unit surround suspension. This was a closed pore foam on early AE1 models. This got brittle and perished. The only cure these days is to buy new bass-mid units which are very expensive. Make sure they look intact and good condition before you buy, or get an understanding of how much new drivers are going to cost and don't pay too much!

AE1 MK-II
Sublime miniature that every audiophile should own at sometime.

Deservedly getting to be a legend

Buy carefully second hand

Similar Products Used: I've listened to lots and owned lots

Direct compaisons were made between the AE1 MK-IIs and a pair of Celection SL6Sis and Dynaudio Contour 1.8MKIIs

I could write a book comparing these!
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
stéphane Macé   Audio Enthusiast [May 16, 2005]
Strength:

Definite sound, very fast, transparent, great space restitution. Are everything but ridiculous, even if you have an ambitious system.

Weakness:

Lack of bass. Perhaps a little expensive elsewhere than in GB ? (3 X more in France !). VERY transparent (it may be dangerous in case of bad choices (amp, CD or even cables)

The AE-1 speakers are well-known products, but I think that even the first model is worth listening in 2005 : I bought a pair of them 9 years ago (in London, where I found a discount retailer who sold them (pretty new, rosewood) at a very low cost (less than 600 $ whithout stands). I've recently upgraded my system, changing my old Rega Elicit for a Nagra PL-L preamp (a dream !) and a Pass Aleph 0.S amp (very smooth, delicate, large and deep soundstage if required on CD). The CD-player is a Mark Levinson ML 39. I must say the result is amazing : these AE-1 are very fast and "resolving". Their weaknesses (light brilliance in the upper frequencies, lack of bass) may easily be corrected by the choice of a smooth amp (I would recommand a valve-amp like Jadis DA-60) and additional bass (I use a Rel Stealth, another oldie !). Don't hesit choosing high-level products, like I did : In my room (5,50m X 5, 50m) the loudspeakers and the walls VANISH, and the sound is much better materialized than before (although the result was already quiet great using the Elicit). I fear (or I'm glad !) I have to buy MUCH MORE expensive loudspeaker models now (for a significative upgrade). If you have a little journey in GB, or find second-hand model at reasonnable cost, BUY IT ! (dont forget the STAE-1 stands, it's important) (I apologize if I'm not clear, English is not my mother-language)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
vinylhead   AudioPhile [Mar 16, 2003]
Strength:

Utterly beguiling, accurate, fast, dynamic, musical - everything a speaker should be and more. High build quality and finish.

Weakness:

Nothing below 55hz, slight coarseness at the top. Really not much to complain about for their size.

The AE1s are quite simply the best small speaker ever made. They are also one of the best speakers ever made or any type. I bought a pair of Rosewood ones complete with the AE stands, and they very quickly blew me away. The first thing you notice is that they are not impressive on first listen - certainly not in a 'hifi' kind of way, yet they were clearly very revealing. Once aclimatized to their sound you realisze that what you are hearing is the rest of your system! The AE1s are so transparent and precise, any faults upstream will reveal themselves very clearly. Synergy is not what the AE1s are all about - they are an absolute. A reference point. If they sound bad in your system, then it's your system that is bad somewhere, not the AE1s. They do have their faults, which to my ears at least are (obviously) a lack of deep bass, and a slight coarsness at the top. Previously I had been listneing to ribbon tweeters so that's expected. However you quickly get used to that, and what you're left with is MUSIC of the highest order. They are fast, accuracte (pitch, timing everything) and utterly beguiling. Listen to them in-room or from another room and the music and detail comes through loud and clear. I am utterly happy with my AE1s - every record I own sounds good through them (becuase I can at last hear the music on them), where as previously only a hand full of albums sounded like I hoped them to. Synergy can be a bad thing! Don't buy AE1s unless you have a top-notch front end and an amp that can deliver plenty of current. they are also very VERY stand dependant, and I'd go as far to say only use the AE stands or somthing more substantial again - and fill the stands with lead and sand. Get them away from the walls and enjoy the music!

Similar Products Used: Pink triangle Ventricals (a very good speaker). Audio Research D70, SP9. Pink Triangle PT Too, Alphason HR100s, AT OC9.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Uday Reddy   Audiophile [Oct 25, 2000]
Strength:

Grain-free, wide dynamic range with pinpoint imaging and an excellent soundstage. Tight, punchy, rich bass despite lower limit of frequency range (65Hz,overall frequency extends down to 35Hz). Definitely not an anemic speaker. It does require the use of a subwoofer for some recordings, especially symphonic music, but for the most part it performs well without bass augmentation. Having listened to both the "Reference" and "Signature" versions, I settled on the "Signature" because I felt the treble and midrange were better reproduced. The piano finish on the Santos Rosewood is spectacular!

Weakness:

Except for the bass, none that I can think of. I do feel that careful matching of components is necessary based upon the other commentaries that I have read. It needs at least 100 watts per channel of amplification and a great source to take advantage of all the speaker has to offer.

I demo'd both full range and mini-monitors from the aforementioned manufacturers, save the Martin-Logan. While I found a lot to like about each one, none of these speakers really stood out from the others with the exception of the Red Rose R3 which unfortunately was, I felt, a case of too much buck for whatever bang it was providing. I had never even heard about Acoustic Energy until Stereophile reviewed the Aegis One earlier this year and in the course of the article John Atkinson mentioned that for a long time the AE-1 was his standard recommendation for anyone looking for an excellent mini-monitor. This piqued my interest and I got a loaner pair from the dealer to audition at home. I was very impressed, but what sealed the deal was listening to "Riverside Rhapsody" from the Grateful Dead's "Infrared Roses" album of space music. This piece can really give speakers a workout and is very revealing of a speakers weaknesses. The only weak spot was the extention of the bass, but the bass was so beautifully reproduced (along with the other frequencies) that I knew this speaker was the one for me. I will probably add a subwoofer next year (any suggestions?). My source is a Wadia 830 and my amplifier is a Jeff Rowland Concentra with Kimber interconnects and cables and they complement the AE-1 Signatures beautifully. I'm giving these speakers 5 stars because, despite their price, I feel they are an excellent value. The AE-1 Reference is a great second choice if the price of the Signatures is too dear.

Similar Products Used: I demo'd speakers from a lot of the usual suspects, i.e. B&W, Thiel, Martin-Logan, Alon and Red Rose Music.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
andrew   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 12, 2001]
Strength:

Truely involving,highly vocased,extreamly 3 dimentinal sound
Not bright in presentation even when driven really hard.

Weakness:

Maby a little to expensive?considering they are only a foot tall,but thats what high end costs i guess.

Never in my life have i heard such openess,such timbre and clarity and such a awesome soundstage.Beware as some might argue that very few recordings are actually recorded to bring out all that these babies can do.We struggled at first to hear the difference between the aegis ones and these(yes these were more open,becuase they are totaly different)but the actuall clarity and focus.This was because the recording was of such poor quality,hence niether speaker brought out there true shades.

They sound truely awesome with plinius integrated,but i recommend a amp that is more generous in the bass department,even though these speakers produce the correct levels of low hz needed,maby a little more presence could be introduced,to get the full dramatic picture.

The trouble with people who review products here is that they often tell of there single products bieng to harsh or smeared,but that is often due to equipment.Make sure you have a amp that is twice the price of this speaker,if you arent biwiring,and of a considerable name brand,then check cabling,cd player and most of all use the best quality recorded meterial that you have when testing these,that will indicate there true colors.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
tony esporma   an Audiophile [Feb 19, 1999]

I have had my AE-1 since they were introduced many years ago. Sourceamplification has been an Audio Research D70 MkII and a Conrad Johnson
PV-9.

The Preamp has been maintained with manufacturer sourced tubes. I have
rolled the ARC several times, currently I use Svetlana's.

Front end has always been a Linn Sondek LP. Before with a Madrigal
Carnegie, now with a Grado Platinum.

Phase I: The system were in a smallish room. Soundstaging was
in a word, holographic. Audiophile stuff from Propius as well as
older goodies like Santana Abraxas painted a picture where the
back wall simply did not exist. Cables were old PC Squared stuff from
MIT.

Phase II: I get an the Entec woofers. The system moved to my den,
about 22X14. The soundstaging opened up further because the speakers
and the amp were freed from the deep base. Big time orchestral works
were reproduced with tremendous force and ease. The back wall moved
fifty feet away, the soundstage begin to take a middle of the hall
sound (just like our season seats).

Phase III: Dual runs of Kimber Kable 4TC. Yikes! What can I say?
if those instruments move any further away, I'll have to pay the mortgage
for the neighbors too! Mostly, the microdynamic details of the music
are more apparent. I can follow separate musical lines in a recording at
will. In stuff like Sinatra Live at the Sands, I can groove along with
a recording that clearly had been compressed for AM radio, yet I can
follow Nelson Riddle's swinging players left, middle, right and back.
I'm there. With the Classic reissue of Aida, I can feel the elephants
tromp along during the Triumphal March: "Gloria!".

Phase IV: ANOTHER AMP: A second ARC D70 MkII makes its entry. Retubed
with Svetlanas and both amps match. Vertical biamping. Oh, Oh, Oh. These
AE-1 can really rock too. Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy really has
balls now. These speakers can really sink power and have great dynamic
range when fed enough juice and freed from the low end. Imaging is spot
on for middle hall orchestra, just twenty rows behind the conductor.
Beethoven's works by Van Cliburn sound convincing.

NEXT Phase: A second set of AE-1s are on the way. I plan to stack them
and use one amp per side. Single wired to begin with, eventually I plan
to biwire all ( for a total of eight runs of Kimber Kable 4TC).

In sum? These speakers are very neutral sounding with the right electronics.
I did not like them when I briefly used them in my HT set up using NAD
monitor series components. They sounded too brittle and edgy. The cables
there are Audio Quest 4 speaker cable. I have heard them with Levinson
amps and they did sound pretty good.

These speakers need a separate woofer and they are capable of outstanding
sound reproduction but they are expensive. Plan to spend at least 5K for
the speakers, woofers, cables, stands at the very least. Also you better
feed them a steady diet of high end stuff or they will reveal the crap
they are getting.

Unlike the Maggies and other dipolars which present a very different
-but equally enjoyable- image, im my experience AE-1s do not image to
the outside of the speakers. I have only heard a phantom image to the
right of the right speaker once, on a Thelonious Monk recording. Other
than that, the depth of the soundstage and the accuracy of the instruments
in space are damn good.

I have the speakers toed in so I can just see the inside sides. The stands
are 24" Targets filled with lead shot and sand.

I can't wait to get my second set. Who knows, I might yet get a third
amp and set of AE-1s and make the mother of all HT set ups.

Tony

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Uday Reddy   Audiophile [Dec 10, 2001]

This is a follow-up to my previous review. Recently I was auditioning the Aerial Acoustics SW-12 subwoofer to pair up with my AE-1 Signatures (a great subwooofer! I'm buying it next year!). The reason for this follow-up is that the system that was paired up with the SW-12 during the audition included the Revel Ultima Gems, plus $35K+ worth of electronics (Proceed CD/DVD player, Mark Levinson DAC and Pre-Amp and Accuphase monoblocks) which sounds like an unfair match-up compared to my Wadia 830 cd player and Jeff Rowland Concentra integrated feeding the AE-1 Sigs. However, there was little, if any difference! Whatever difference there may have been was probably attributable to the room and the acoustical treatments. The one recording used during the audition where I felt there may have been a difference was "Autumn Leaves" by Julian "Cannonball" Adderly. In this piece there seemed to have been more of a "spittle" sound in Miles Davis' solo. With all other recordings (jazz and rock n' roll), there seemed to be no difference at all. When I got home I played the same recordings at the same level and felt there was no difference. This tells me two things: 1. The AE-1 Sigs more than hold their own against Stereophile Class A-rated speakers and, 2. There are certainly diminishing returns with regard to sound quality with higher levels of spending. These speakers paired up with a good source and amplification will not disappoint!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Fahad   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 20, 2001]
Strength:

Looks, small size, openess, clarity

Weakness:

lacks warmth, needs more bass

I wanted a system for my living room that looked great and was small. So I went for the Linn Classik after reading rave reviews. The problem was selecting a speaker, so I went shopping and listening. I listened to so many speakers, including B&W, Tannoy, Mission, Linn with various price ranges. That is, until the shop told me about the AE1 and they said "just try it"

I bought the AE1 on the spot, as it was being sold for the original 1980's price of 845 GB pound. When I took the speaker home to compare against my reference system (Marantz PM-95 amp, 63.2 cd and Linn Keilidh), doing an A-B test, something sounded wrong. Then a friend pointed out that the Eltax stands were the problem, so I got the AE stands and voila!!! Everything changed and got fixed.

My reference system is beaten, and I listen more to the Classik/AE1. However, the AE1 needs its own stands, a powerful and dull amp (as the AE1 is bright), and a lot of side space. With the classik, they sound best between 70 and 80 volume.

These are spectacular speakers for the size. But be warned, size matters, larger speakers can provide a better sound.

The only question on my mind, if the classik/AE1 match is a wise one? Is there a better amp for the AE1?

Similar Products Used: Linn Keilidh, Tannoy R1, JBL LX, B&W, many others
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
tony esporma   Audiophile [Sep 10, 2001]
Strength:

Soundstating and dynamics

Weakness:

lack of deep bass

Please see my review down.

OK, Now on to Phase V of my AE1 Saga:
I got a second pair of AE1 MkrIIs and I put them on top of the first pair. Bow each with a single run of Kimber 4TC. Originally I put them upside down, but then I returned them standing up. The Soundstaging hurt a little but the dynamics got much better. So much better indeed that I now run them full range without putting the Entec high pass filter on line with them.

Phase VI: I augmented the Kimber 4TC with runs of Nordost Flatwire which are set for biwiring: two bananas at the amp, four at the speaker. I used the Kimber to augment the bottom end. The bass got tighter.

Phase VII: During our home construction, I had a dedicated 30 amp line with hospital grade plugs installed. Yikes! Best tweak.

I think I've reached the end of the line with my AE1s. As set up, they've been tweaked: Two matching tube amps, two Entec woofers, dedicated power lines and enough speaker cable to fix the California Power Grid. The sound today is exceptional. The cost was too.....

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 16  

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