Neat Iota Al­pha

FOR Fun pre­sen­ta­tion; com­pact size; easy to po­si­tion AGAINST Ri­vals go louder and deeper in the bass

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Neat’s Iota Al­phas are odd-look­ing things. Thanks to the knee high stature and strangely an­gled ap­pear­ance, it’s dif­fi­cult to take them se­ri­ously. Yet, for any­one want­ing great sound with­out go­ing for room-dom­i­nat­ing hi-fi, these floor­standers are some­thing to savour.

The orig­i­nal Iota standmounters were small enough to squeeze into all sorts of places and per­form well. The Iota Al­phas take this can-do at­ti­tude and add an ex­tra dose of sonic au­thor­ity and scale.

Fuss-free at­ti­tude

The top half of the Al­pha is straight from the orig­i­nal. A 50mm Emit mag­netic/ pla­nar tweeter sits along­side a 10cm polypropy­lene mid/bass unit. How­ever, they’re in a sealed com­part­ment to help in­te­gra­tion with the down­ward-fac­ing 13.5cm pulp-pa­per bass unit. Con­nec­tion is limited to a sin­gle pair of high-qual­ity ter­mi­nals. Some may be­moan the lack of bi­wiring, but the sin­gu­lar con­nec­tion re­in­forces the Neats’ fuss-free at­ti­tude.

Build qual­ity is good. These feel like solid boxes and the fin­ish is pleas­ing too. Those spikes aren’t par­tic­u­larly sharp, so

there may be is­sues pierc­ing thick car­pet. It’s worth per­sist­ing, as a se­cure foot­ing will bring sound ben­e­fits. These Neats aren’t par­tic­u­larly fussy about place­ment, though they need a bit of wall re­in­force­ment. If you were think­ing short speak­ers mean a sound­stage aimed at your knees you’d be wrong. That an­gled baf­fle helps throw the sound up­ward, re­sult­ing in a sur­pris­ingly ex­pan­sive pre­sen­ta­tion, which stays sta­ble even when the mu­sic be­comes de­mand­ing.

Ro­bust qual­i­ties

We play Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the Neats sound way big­ger than ex­pected, de­liv­er­ing a sense of au­thor­ity and so­lid­ity out of keep­ing with their size. With eyes closed, we would never have guessed that the speak­ers were so small.

The Al­pha’s pre­sen­ta­tion is won­der­fully co­he­sive and has an ap­peal­ing ro­bust qual­ity. Dy­nam­ics are strong too, with larger-scale dy­namic shifts han­dled with con­fi­dence, even at higher vol­umes.

Ton­ally, these speak­ers aren’t wholly even, but the de­vi­a­tion isn’t enough to worry us. Once we start lis­ten­ing, it’s the Neats’ abil­ity to cap­ture the essence of the mu­sic that grabs our at­ten­tion, rather than any tonal short­com­ing.

While there is a good amount of low-fre­quency ac­tion, larger, sim­i­larly priced tra­di­tional floor­standers from the likes of B&W, Tan­noy or Q Acous­tics will dig deeper and louder. It would be un­re­al­is­tic to ex­pect such com­pact speak­ers to fill a larger room prop­erly, but in a small to medium space they’re fine for any­thing be­low night­club lev­els.

These Neats are sur­pris­ing speak­ers. If you’re af­ter fuss-free floor­standers that don’t dom­i­nate your lis­ten­ing room, there are few bet­ter al­ter­na­tives. They de­liver a com­bi­na­tion of de­tail, dy­nam­ics and rhyth­mic in­tegrity that com­petes with the best of the tra­di­tional com­pe­ti­tion. They’re not about analysing the record­ing, more about hav­ing fun. That’s just fine with us.

“All about hav­ing fun – and that’s fine by us“

The Al­phas look odd, but they sound way big­ger than ex­pected

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