How much time do you really spend with your main HiFi? Unless you are lucky enough to be able to sit in front of your main system all day, chances are you have some kind of second system for when you are working from home, or that all too common situation where family TV watching and your H-Fi listening schedules clash.
Like many other 21st Century drones, a significant amount of my time is spent in a home office, and I have a rudimentary PC system to listen to a few tunes.
Today then, we are looking at the Acoustic Energy Aego M system, which comprises of two splendid little satellite speakers and an active subwoofer. There are two finishes available and I have the white Nextel-type crackle finish. The other colour is Henry Ford’s finest. The whole package just looks solid.
The white finish looks stylish against the black grille material and makes a nice change from the usual black box format.
AE include all the cables you might need to make sweet music. For this review it’s a 3.5mm to 2-phono jack to connect to my PC sound card. They also supply a 5m pair of speaker cables to connect the satellite to the sub. In a nice touch. the cable is clearly a step-up from the cruddy bell wire that is usually supplied with these systems, which is just nasty and prone to getting damaged. AE’s cable is a cream-coloured flat profile too, in case you need to route it under carpet or tack it on a skirting.
The dinky subwoofer control unit can also accept a centre channel speaker, and you can easily imagine this being a great little AV rig with the optional benefit of a dedicated dialogue speaker.
The other significant control around the back of the sub is a 3 position bass switch. In my setup I preferred it in position 1, giving the least amount of bass boost, but this is something you’ll want to experiment with to find what’s best for you.
On the front of the sub is a single rotary power and volume switch. I placed the sub on the floor and I like the way this came easily to hand. I find a physical volume control a lot more convenient than controlling volume on the PC, but in situations where you want to use a PC remote, just set the volume to your preferred threshold on the sub, then control it within your music or movie software.
I had an absolute riot listening to this system. Compared to my Audioengine A2s, these are way cleaner through the midrange, less congested and more cohesive. This is a surprise given that the sub sits on the floor and the little satellites sit up top on the desk.
I put James Blake’s – Overgrown on and laughed at loud at the sheer quality of bass from this tiny setup. It goes low too, whilst remaining tuneful at all times, never getting wobbly or out of shape. I cranked up the volume and the system never skipped a beat.
Similarly the driving, disco-funk of Capital Cities’ – In A Tidal Wave of Mystery had me wanting to get up and party, At 9:30am when you should be on work conference calls, this is no mean feat. There is all sorts going on in this album, with some great brass sections. Chalk another one up for the Aegos, they nailed it.
But to prove that these aren’t just disco and dub divas, I played An Arrow from Sarah Blasko’s latest album, I Awake. This is an atmospheric recording with sweeping string sections. The Aego Ms played this track with aplomb conveying plenty of emotion and doing justice to the grandiose production.
I played Beethovens ‘Emperor’ piano concerto thinking the Aegos would collapse a little, but no. Instruments sounded convincing, whist detail and separation was as respectable as any speaker I’ve heard in this price range.
And so we come to the subject of price. The desktop speaker market is absolutely teeming with examples from unknown brands that are here today, gone tomorrow. However, buying from a reputable marque like AE, you should expect a significant step up in build and sound quality, and you certainly get it. Had these retailed in the £400-500 price bracket I would still give them a firm recommendation. The fact they are £179.95 RRP makes them a ludicrously good deal.
Put simply, this is the grooviest, toe-tappiest desktop speaker system you will clap your ears on. I bloomin’ love it.