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