Sugg. Retail: $799 pr (CAN)
Size: 33″H x 7 1/2″W x 9 3/8″D
Distributor: Artech Electronics Ltd.,
1870 St. Regis Blvd., Dorval, QC H9P 1H6
(5124) 631-6448 FAX 631-1212.
(Reprinted from the Summer/Fall 2000 Audio Ideas Guide)
Just as the regular Acoustic Energy speaker line, led by its famous AE1, seems overly expensive, paradoxically, the new Aegis line seems almost too inexpensive, when you actually examine what is offered in the Aegis Two. The first indication of this is the finish, which is a very oak-like vinyl. These little towers are solidly made at about 30 pounds each, with front and rear panels of over-an-inch-thick MDF, with sides, top and bottom of 3/4″ MDF.
Drivers are a silk dome tweeter and a 5 1/2″ metal alloy bass/midrange driver, both used throughout the Aegis line, which includes a full home theatre complement (to be reviewed in our next issue with the Myryad HT electronics). The enclosure is rear ported, the tapered port just above the single pair of gold-plated binding posts. As you can see, even before you listen there’s a lot of perceived value in these speakers.
We always measure before listening, the reverse of the custom of some magazines (those that actually do speaker measurements; those that don’t simply cannot be considered credible), partly to know what to listen for, and partly to just get the technical stuff out of the way first. Here we go.
In general, the curves for the Aegis Two are excellent, the Pink Noise Sweep (PNS) and Summed Axial Response (SAR) overlaying each other nicely, the latter having a slight rolloff at the very top because of the controlled dispersion seen in the 30 and 60o curves below. Befitting a smaller-room speaker, there’s a general downward trend above 1 kHz to compensate for the expected closer listening distance (sound falls off at high frequencies at the rate of about 1 dB per metre), but treble is smooth, down about 4 dB at 10 kHz.
At the other end, we see bass down 5 dB at 50 Hz, and only 10 dB at 30; this means that wall proximity can be used to improve deep bass, and I’ll amplify this in the listening notes. In between, from 100 to almost 1500 Hz, the Two is remarkably linear, within a dB, its overall response +/-2 1/2 dB from 50 to about 12 kHz. In other words, it has accuracy where it counts, in the midrange, and is very smooth overall, with excellent bass extension for a small tower design.
Impedance is also quite smooth except for the bass peaks typical of a reflex design, these 35 ohms at 30 Hz, and just over 50 ohms at 80 Hz; in the upper bass and midrange we see a low of 6 ohms (200 Hz) and a high of 20. The phase curve below shows a gentle phase angle through crossover of +/-30o or less, promising an easy amplifier load and good imaging.
Perhaps that’s why I found the Aegis Two so engaging to listen to, and so surprising in its bass performance. With a nearly ideal tonal balance, its bass was quick and tuneful, the mids and top end clean and precise without being clinical. My only criticism would be a little reticence in the very top octave; I would tend to toe these speakers in for a little more treble sparkle. But there was certainly no problem with transients: brass, percussion, and guitar had lots of snap, and the tonal balance on piano was ideal.
The Aegis Two also projected a very credible orchestral soundstage, too, one of the few small loudspeakers I have heard that is capable of doing so. This is partly the big image it projects, combined with the speed and precision of the silk and alloy drivers, and their matching. They do “sort things out”, as the Brits say. There was also a nice sense of both dynamics and micro-dynamics with these speakers as well. Our Bach Cello Suites recording was notable both for its richness of tone and the subtle nuances of the baroque cello sound.
To hear all this in an $800 speaker was something of a revelation. I can hardly wait to fire up the whole Acoustic Energy Aegis home theatre system.