Acoustic Energy AE1active

drummerman

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Starting a new thread rather than derailing an existing one;

I think they look domestically very acceptable.

Can't find any pics of the amps and drivers ... Are the amps custom made or off-the-shelf units with crossover adapted to the custom AE drivers? (Nothing wrong with good 'ready made' amps these days. I was just wondering).

I know the AE guy is visiting frequently here perhaps you can post some open cabinet shots?

Cheers
 

Andrewjvt

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drummerman said:
Starting a new thread rather than derailing an existing one;

I think they look domestically very acceptable.

Can't find any pics of the amps and drivers ... Are the amps custom made or off-the-shelf units with crossover adapted to the custom AE drivers? (Nothing wrong with good 'ready made' amps these days. I was just wondering).

I know the AE guy is visiting frequently here perhaps you can post some open cabinet shots?

Cheers
All I know is bi amp 50w hf and 50w LF
 

AEJim

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Nov 17, 2008
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Hi Drummerman,

I'll try to answer your questions!

The amps are made by one of our main suppliers to our specification, we use various companies for cabinets, amps, drive units etc. Nothing we have made for us is "off the shelf" though, all is to our design and spec and we have very good long term relationships with these suppliers so they know our standards well. Some of the more expensive drive units are still hand-made in Cirencester, the Actives are all hand-finished and tested here too. They have a +/- 1dB tolerance from the reference.

The amps themselves were developed back in 2012 and we still have the original set running in a prototype pair of the Actives, they are basically unchanged from then and that original pair has something like 5000+ hours use on them with no problems. We ran them all day, every day for radio listening in our sales office for a couple of years as part of our long-term durability testing (they sounded better than our old radio too. ;)) We also showed that pair at the Munich show in 2014 and ran them at full volume from an iPad for the duration to much praise from listeners! (Input sensitivity from the RCA's has since been increased for the purpose of plugging in mobile devices with lower voltage outputs).

We chose class A/B primarily for sound quality; class D is very good now but in our testing at least the class A/B sounded a little sweeter in the treble and subjectively a touch more natural and "musical" to our ears. 50w per drive unit was chosen as an optimum which offers more than enough power, but for short bursts shouldn't be too much to blow drive units if something is plugged in at full volume (there is also an internal fuse for backup). Practically it was also the largest output amp that wouldn't require additional external heatsinks, the rear metal panel being sufficient, it can get quite warm but never too hot.

Some internal pics:









And specs (from the manual):

Input Sensitivity*1 104dB for 1VRMS @ 1kHz
Bandwidth*2 42Hz-28kHz
Horizontal coverage*3 130 degrees
Vertical Coverage 120 degrees
Peak SPL*4 115dB
Maximum SPL*5 105dB
Amplifier Class A/B with linear power supply.
Amplifier Power LF: 50W
HF: 50W
Crossover 3.5kHz 4th Order Linkwitz-Riley
Woofer 140mm chassis with Alu/Ceramic cone.
Tweeter 27mm Alu dome with WDT waveguide.
Cabinet 18mm MDF with bracing and damping panels.
Inputs RCA and Balanced XLR
Controls Volume adjust 0dB to -inf
HF shelf +/-2dB
LF shelf +/-2dB
Power connection IEC C13
Voltage selection Manual switching

*Notes:
1 Measured at 1m using pink-weighted MLS noise.
2 Measured at 1m using pink-weighted MLS noise, +/-6dB limits.
3 Measured at 1m using pink-weighted MLS noise, +/-6dB limits.
4 Measured using a toneburst signal.
5 Measured using a band limited sine sweep.

Let me know if there's anything else you want more info on!

Cheers,

Jim.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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Excellent photos. Tells me nothing - because I am not an electronics engineer - but I still enjoy them anyway :)

What is the purpose of the fabric wrapped around some cables and forming a little ‘curtain’ around the transforner?
 

AEJim

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Thanks! The foam around the cabling is purely to prevent any potential rattles, when driven hard there's a fair amount of air turbulence inside a small cabinet like this and there is potential for it to cause the cabling to move and knock on other cables/cabinet/components. More preventative than anything though.
 

davedotco

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I have one thought though, many people are put off studio type actives because of the looks, not having grills seems particularly important.

Have you had thoughts on this? Having a grill might make them more acceptable domestically.
 

AEJim

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Hi Dave, they do indeed come with grilles - I need to get more shots with them on out there though! As with all our current models they're magnetic to keep everything "clean" looking. Here's a pic from Russia, I must take some more of the gloss black too, it's by far the best finish in my opinion...

 

Pedro2

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Finally dropped through the door this morning. Will plug the XLRs in today (hopefully) and give my thoughts by the end of this week (of the speakers; don't want to start an off-thread cable discussion re XLR v RCA!)

So far though, I've got to say that these speakers are superb. The family have now all listened for over a fortnight and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. CNO, these actives would not look out of place in studio or home settings. They are well made, well finished and do have magnetic grill covers for those wanting them (I'm using them at present although our son is almost beyond the dangerous stage!)

Sound quality is hard to fault. More detail to follow in a couple of days.
 

drummerman

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I'd be particularly interested in how they sound at very low volume as most of my listening is done that way.

@ AE Jim, thank you for the photos. Can't see much as they are squewed up on my phone but have another look on my laptop later. Some pictures of the drivers? Many thanks
 

davedotco

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AEJim said:
Hi Dave, they do indeed come with grilles - I need to get more shots with them on out there though! As with all our current models they're magnetic to keep everything "clean" looking. Here's a pic from Russia, I must take some more of the gloss black too, it's by far the best finish in my opinion...
Might like to make that more obvious, no mention of grills on the website or anywhere that I could see and given that all the photos are without them I assumed there was none.

All black would look pretty cool.
 

nick8858

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Bet they sound great. Had a pair of the original AE1's years ago and they were really good. You could put the national grid through them and they woudln't grumble. Sad to see them go. Had the proper stands as well.
 

MajorFubar

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They certainly look the part. Have to completely agree with DaveDotCo, distributing a few photos with their grills in place will put a big tick in the 'domestically acceptable' box, which you should definitely not under-estimate. Just about every review site seems to be showing them without grills. Speaking of reviews, have they been reviewed by WHF yet?

I know to a certain extent the cynical could view your contributions here as free advertising, but personally I find it refreshing to see a manufacturer who is willing to show us what's inside their boxes and talk about how they make them, beyond the usual sales-patter. Shows genuine belief and confidence in your products.
 

jjbomber

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MajorFubar said:
I know to a certain extent the cynical could view your contributions here as free advertising, but personally I find it refreshing to see a manufacturer who is willing to show us what's inside their boxes and talk about how they make them, beyond the usual sales-patter. Shows genuine belief and confidence in your products.
Also, he is upfront with who he is and what he is advertising for free. I don't think anyone should have a problem with that. If he was pretending to be a member of the public while 'advertising' AE, then I can understand the problem. It's the same as Rick at Musicraft and Davidf not at Frank Harvey.

I hate agreeing with MajorFubar but it is almost Christmas and the season of goodwill to all men. *biggrin*
 

Pedro2

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jjbomber said:
but it is almost Christmas and the season of goodwill to all men. *biggrin*
Oh, please no! We've yet to experience the season of Halloween, the season of Bonfire Night and any other season that might spring up to empty everyone's pockets (in a fun-filled, family way of course). Sorry, off-topic rant over.
 

AEJim

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Nov 17, 2008
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I tend to check on here every few days or so to see if there's anything I should to reply to, I stopped posting regularly for the very reason of not wanting to be seen to be advertising, either openly or otherwise. If there's a question about our products I'm happy to answer and if WHF would rather I didn't that's fine too. People can always contact us directly if they want any info. :)

I've had mention of grilles added to the website and I'll try to take some nice shots to put up there at some point too. I found some others but I'd rather not put "unofficial" ones up.

I found some other images to highlight some things including Drummerman's queries about the drive units:

Grilles on:



Tweeter:



This is a brand new aluminium tweeter designed for the Active. It's aluminium to match the tonal qualities of the bass driver, something that's hard to measure but we think is a very valid factor in the sound of a speaker (for the same reason the paper-coned 100 Series use a fabric tweeter). This one is attached to a waveguide to both match in-room dispersion to the bass driver and smooth response of the dome as much as possible. The "ring" that can be seen behind the (fixed) mesh grille is for phase correction and helps minimise any "beaming" from the centre of the dome.

Bass Driver:



The bass driver uses the latest version of the spun and hard-anodised cone we've used since the original AE1, the small and extremely rigid cone provides a very accurate response through being extremely pistonic, it's shape alters very little even at high excursion. A trade-off of this pistonic action is quite a strong break-up resonance around 5.5kHz (all speaker designs are a combination of compromises, you pick where to fight your battles!), something we tame very well through the use of 4th order slopes in the crossover and with the foam surround as to make it all but inaudible. We're often asked why we don't use rubber and it's simply because it doesn't work as well with this cone characteristic, we try to always improve coatings and UV protection for longer life and under most conditions these should now last for the life of the speaker.

I'm happy to talk and to provide information about anything we do or why we do it, if it is a problem - moderators should feel free to remove the posts without offense!
 

AEJim

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Pedro2 said:
Finally dropped through the door this morning. Will plug the XLRs in today (hopefully) and give my thoughts by the end of this week (of the speakers; don't want to start an off-thread cable discussion re XLR v RCA!)

So far though, I've got to say that these speakers are superb. The family have now all listened for over a fortnight and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. CNO, these actives would not look out of place in studio or home settings. They are well made, well finished and do have magnetic grill covers for those wanting them (I'm using them at present although our son is almost beyond the dangerous stage!)

Sound quality is hard to fault. More detail to follow in a couple of days.
Hi Pedro, I'm glad they're working out well for you!

You shouldn't be shy of using the +/-2dB trims on the back if you need to either, I often recommend using -2dB on the tweeter for a smoother response (depending on room). The "0" setting measures very flat but I think our most succesful speakers have always been a little rolled off as it sounds nicer in an "average" room with wall and ceiling reflections. Much will depend on furnishing, room shape and personal taste though. Adjustment of the trim controls is not detrimental to the sound quality, just alters the presentation slightly.

Cheers,

Jim.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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AEJim said:
Pedro2 said:
Finally dropped through the door this morning. Will plug the XLRs in today (hopefully) and give my thoughts by the end of this week (of the speakers; don't want to start an off-thread cable discussion re XLR v RCA!)

So far though, I've got to say that these speakers are superb. The family have now all listened for over a fortnight and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. CNO, these actives would not look out of place in studio or home settings. They are well made, well finished and do have magnetic grill covers for those wanting them (I'm using them at present although our son is almost beyond the dangerous stage!)

Sound quality is hard to fault. More detail to follow in a couple of days.
Hi Pedro, I'm glad they're working out well for you!

You shouldn't be shy of using the +/-2dB trims on the back if you need to either, I often recommend using -2dB on the tweeter for a smoother response (depending on room). The "0" setting measures very flat but I think our most succesful speakers have always been a little rolled off as it sounds nicer in an "average" room with wall and ceiling reflections. Much will depend on furnishing, room shape and personal taste though. Adjustment of the trim controls is not detrimental to the sound quality, just alters the presentation slightly.

Cheers,

Jim.
Are they 'switchable', ie full 2dB in either direction or are they 'continuous', ie up to 2 dB?

BTW I have similar (but slightly different) controls on my Adams and I find them very useful indeed.

Once you get over the 'audiophilia' that is.
 

AEJim

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Nov 17, 2008
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They're switchable: -2 / 0 / +2 dB so a 4dB swing between bass and treble is possible. It's reasonably subtle at 2dB so we didn't see any huge benefit in making them continuously variable, bearing in mind many speakers on the market have tolerances of up to +/-3dB as standard! But the effects are definitely useful; Martin Collums reviewed them recently and thought the bass was a bit strong (no idea how in his cavernous room!) so he was experimenting with blocking the port with various materials, in the end he gave in and just turned the bass to -2dB and was completely happy with the result! :)
 

MajorFubar

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AEJim said:
Martin Collums
Good grief is he still writing?! Don't mean that in a bad way but I started reading his reviews when I was still at school. He must be three hundred years old now.
 

MajorFubar

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jjbomber said:
hate agreeing with MajorFubar but it is almost Christmas and the season of goodwill to all men. *biggrin*
Lol we probably agree on far more things than we disagree. But talking about things we agree about is so unnewsworthy. :)
 

Paulq

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Dec 2, 2007
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Apologies for the slight deviation from the thread and also the nature of the question. I am curious for a reason.

With active speakers such as these is there any difference/disadvantage to them being active by means of having their own amplifiers vs (for example, in my case) the 'old' Linn approach of adding active filters to a separate amplifier?

Or are they just two different routes to the same result?
 

nopiano

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Paulq said:
Apologies for the slight deviation from the thread and also the nature of the question. I am curious for a reason.

With active speakers such as these is there any difference/disadvantage to them being active by means of having their own amplifiers vs (for example, in my case) the 'old' Linn approach of adding active filters to a separate amplifier?

Or are they just two different routes to the same result?
I expect Jim will have a manufacturing take on this, but I’ll offer my thoughts. In the Linn arrangement you use amps that can operate full range over the limited band for the driver that the crossover determines, e.g. for midrange only. In an active design, the amplifier might well function full range, but it is dedicated to, say, woofer or tweeter, and invariably these are not the same amp. So the amp is specific to the driver rather than generic, but truncated, if you like.

To my way of thinking active speakers are better than the Linn approach. And that is often called bi- or tri- amping, rather than active.
 

Paulq

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nopiano said:
I expect Jim will have a manufacturing take on this, but I’ll offer my thoughts. In the Linn arrangement you use amps that can operate full range over the limited band for the driver that the crossover determines, e.g. for midrange only. In an active design, the amplifier might well function full range, but it is dedicated to, say, woofer or tweeter, and invariably these are not the same amp. So the amp is specific to the driver rather than generic, but truncated, if you like.

To my way of thinking active speakers are better than the Linn approach. And that is often called bi- or tri- amping, rather than active.
Thanks, that helps me understand more (I am a complete Luddite when it comes to some of the advanced technical stuff). The main thing I noticed when I took the Katans active via the Linn route was the major improvement in every aspect of the music. Bass was more pronounced yet controlled and the levels of detail were actually just surreal compared to having them passive. For anyone who isn't aware, the Katan is a small speaker that is renowned for its response to being taken active but I'd estimate that they 'improved' by at least 50% in an active configuration. They came alive.

I listened to the AE1's a week or so ago and was mightily impressed by their sheer scale and enjoyment factor. I have no doubts that their sound is far more 'full' than the Katans but, only having listened in a dem room, I need to be 100% sure that they replicate the clarity and detail that my current 'active' setup does before pushing the button. Listening to some 24/96 files earlier today was, as always, a complete revelation. If they can reproduce that in my environment with the simplicity factor that they bring then they are definitely for me, but I wanted to ask the question as essentially I'd be going from a £6.5k setup to a £1k setup. Price alone is never the issue per se but either Linn are charging over the odds or there's a difference in quality - that's my dilemma.

A home demo is in order I feel.

Again, apologies to the OP for the slight digression.
 

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