Acoustic Energy AE1 Active
FOR Balanced, detailed, exciting sound; dynamic range AGAINST Nothing of note
We like tradition.
It’s what puts sprouts on our plate every Christmas.
In hi-fi, tradition generally means plenty of standalone boxes and a lot of clutter; but it can also mean finely tuned systemmatching and broadened horizons for upgrading. All of which, in turn, means a system that offers versatility, often a better performance. And, frankly, that traditional system keeps people like us in a job.
Nice and easy
Active speakers are hardly a gargantuan step from tradition, but it’s rare to find a pair at this price that leaves us struggling to think of separates that match their talents.
Acoustic Energy’s AE1 Actives are relatively basic in terms of their set-up and function. Connect them to your source via either their RCA or balanced XLR inputs and you’re ready to go. There’s no Bluetooth but attaching a separate module would be far more cost effective than for AE to have integrated the technology itself.
Dedicated power units
Each drive unit is driven by a dedicated 50W class A/B power amplifier module, while dials at the back of the cabinets allow for treble adjustment and bass cut up or down by 2db. And it’s all wrapped up in a charmingly unassuming, 30cm-high box available in Piano Black, Piano White or Piano Cherry real wood veneer finishes.
We test the AE1S primarily using the balanced XLR connection to our reference Gamut pre-amp and Naim NDS/555PS streamer, but the consistency of their character irrespective of source (as long as it’s good) is worth celebrating from the off.
The AE1S deserve decent, hefty stands. Their presentation is forward and punchy but that’s not to say they lack subtlety or dimension, just that they’re endearingly excitable. We play Soulwax’s From Deewee, and the rising synthesizer phrases of Preset
Tense ring with clarity and climb with vigour; there is granular detail here along with an irrepressible sense of anticipation.
With Masterplanned, we get a sense of the AE1S’ fine integration and balance. The synth hook stabs away at the low end, complemented by substantial body in the midrange to showcase the vocal melody and control over percussion in the treble.
Timing is spot on but, equally, the dynamic expression is subtle enough to spotlight differing intensities of beats.
Simply, these AE1S do everything down to a tee. Not only for what they are, but to the standards we could expect from any amp and speaker combination. So, yes, we love tradition, and we love hi-fi separates. But it would be a much more expensive pair of components that would see a marked improvement on these active speakers.
“Simply, they do everything down to a tee”
They’re only 30cm high but each driver has its own dedicated amplifier inside