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Ovation High Fidelity 1501/1701
Ovation Model 1721 Power Amplifier
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NAD M51 DAC/Preamp
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Acoustic Energy 305 Loudspeakers Review
Turntable: Acoustic Solid 111 with Audio Note Arm 1 Tone Arm and Benz Glider Cartridge and Puresound Tuneto Platter.
Phono Stage: Puresound T10 and P10
Amplifier: Various, mainly powered by a Beard P100
Acoustic Energy will be well known to everyone, few companies can boast such a long and successful history in this tough industry. An industry in which a new company springs up every five minutes and disappears again almost as quickly as they arrive – regardless how good their products may be. So any company that has managed to stay the course as long as AE must be doing something right.
Some of this success could be due to the way they are able to make products for a broad range of price points. From computer speakers, custom install speakers up to the high end Reference range all bases are covered. They have built a reputation for quality, the AE1 has near legendary status and is still very much the standard bearer for the firm to this day.
The three series sits just above the middle of the entire range, and these Three way, reflex slot loaded, £1000.00 305s top the three series range.
Available in either white or black piano gloss and Standing just under 1 meter high, with a cambered front and magnetic grill, they are both handsome and very room friendly.
When the nice chap from AE dropped them off, he was keen to stress that I might need to play with placement a bit to get the bass just so. However, having simply plonked them down in the same spot my Triangles normally occupy, they sounded pretty good right away.
I say pretty good, not because there’s anything wrong with these speakers, but because they are such a departure from my own speakers. The first thing that struck me was the sense of space. Not in the sound quality, but in the front room. They are half the size of the triangles, the compact and stylish look really was a huge plus, so many manufacturers forget that people actually have to live with kit in real world front rooms. The next thing that hit me was how relaxed I felt listening. I’ve never shied away from admitting my preference for a slightly “in yer face” hifi experience. I think the fact we have kids, I have two jobs and travel a lot means that I rarely get to sit and listen, so I want my hifi hit to be fun, it rarely lasts that long, so it needs to have impact. The AE’s are laid back in style, both physically and sonically and so it took me a while to really tune into them. I did also play with positioning a little and found that having them on plinths really opened up the sound, just about 5cm off the ground. In fact it was quite an upgrade so you might want to consider practical and attractive ways to achieve that permanently – I’ll be speaking with Bob at Hush about this opportunity at my house… read on.
Once accustomed I found them to be a real joy. There are no fireworks here, no whiz bang tom foolery. Just the music, detailed, even handed and with a revealing layered and textured bass that works so well in my room I was actually grinning. What really won me over was the sound stage. So wide and high – there’s no boxiness here at all. Amazing actually for a £1k speaker. Testament to the build quality of the boxes. Give them a rap with your knuckles and you get that feeling.. your knuckles hurt :-) it put me in mind of the Volkswagen advert, with the sound of the car door denoting the quality and engineering you get.
They were tested with a broad range of music (see above) and I couldn’t trip them up. Perhaps Austrian Death Machine could have been more dynamic, but the fun of discovering new layers of sound on Orbital’s Wonky album (so over played in my house) was more than compensation. Classical music really benefited from the huge sound stage, especially sacred choral music, with huge floating voices – belying the diminutive size of the 305’s. The extra tuneful bass made playing The Prodigy fun in a whole new way. Rather than being pinned to my seat I was grinning at all the new sounds I was hearing and enjoying for the first time (on an album I’ve owned and listened to regularly for years).
The 305s exude quality and although I did occasionally detect just the slightest edge from the aluminium drivers, what they give back in speed and agility more than compensates. They are so revealing, but without being shouty. Tweak your turn table -I’ve been testing the Puresound T10 against a tranny in a box, also the Tuneto platter against other mats – and the smallest changes are revealed. The Tuneto is great by the way and look out for my review of the excellent T10 soon!
I think to be so revealing without ever being fatiguing is extremely rare at this price point and anyone with a normal size room (my listening room is 5m by 3m and we listen across the 3m, with me seated just over 2.5m from the speakers) needs to hear them. So much so I’ve bought a pair.
Probably safe to leave this here. I’ve put my money where my mouth is, because my ears (and yes my eyes too) fell in love with their elegant simplicity. The best solution to any engineering problem is normally the most elegant and the 305’s prove the point.
Speak to Paul at Purite North to arrange a demo.
Discuss the review here
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