Acoustic Energy AEGO5 Home Theater System

      Date posted: October 24, 2002

Acoustic Energy AEGO5

Sugg. Retail: $1995 (CAN)
(AEGO2 Stereo: $595)
Distributor: Emerald Audio Resources
8RR. 1, Palgrave
Ontario, L0N 1P0
(905) 880-7170 FAX 880-7171

(Reprinted from the Fall 02 Audio Ideas Guide)

      At an audio show, it occasionally happens that I walk into a room and am struck by the quality of sound from speakers you can hardly see. That’s what occurred at the Festival Du Son et L’Image in Montreal this year when I first heard the AEGO2 stereo version of the Aego5 system. I simply couldn’t believe that the full range, extremely well defined, and dynamic sound was coming from boxes 2 1/2 inches wide by 4 inches high and 3 inches deep, and a single sub. I thought that they had to be large panel speakers, but these turned out to be simple acoustic dividers, the AEGO pair of speakers inconspicuously between them on a table.

      The 5 tiny identical satellite speakers, encased in black aluminum with a silver perforated grille, are fed from amplifiers in the subwoofer. All connections to the speakers are made through RCA-terminated cables, these supplied in appropriate lengths for front and rear speakers designed to be used in a relatively small room. There is an overall volume control at top centre front of the subwoofer, as well as a subwoofer volume control on its rear panel. The system can be set via a toggle on this same panel to be On, Off, or Auto; in the latter case, it shuts off after 10 minutes of silence, and turns on when sensing an audio signal. There is also a sub output for use in larger rooms that would benefit from a pair of subwoofers. There are no crossover adjustments, the system tuned to work together with crossover fixed around 200 Hz.

      I popped off a grille cover on one of the satellies to look at the single driver, which is quite unusual in shape; it reminds me of a much larger driver shaped like a piano sound board once marketed by Yamaha in a bookshelf speaker system. The AEGO driver’s shape is more symmetrical, wider at bottom than top, with a dustcap at centre that probably functions as tweeter in this almost full range (150 Hz to 20 kHz) unit. It provides amazing performance for its size and the small volume of the metal box. By the way, the satellites come with wall mounting hardware brackets that swivel to allow aiming the speakers at the listening position.

Acoustic Energy AEGO5 Home Theater system

      The AEGOp5 processor is a small box with remote control that connects to the sub via a multipin DIN-like cable, or through RCA cables. This concerned me a bit, since we have RCAs used in the system for both line level and speaker level connections. Inputs are provided for 3 stereo analog sources, with Toslink and coaxial digital inputs. There are no video inputs or outputs.
The front panel has a Power button at left, an LCD display at centre, and individual channel Status LEDS at right. These indicate whether the channel is active, and the bass management settings of Large (red) or Small (green).

      As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, this HT system is the antithesis of many that we’ve reviewed in its utter simplicity. Virtually all control beyond those functions already noted is through the remote control for the processor. With only 24 buttons, it clearly labels all its operations, and should be easily and quickly mastered, even by small children (in fact, the younger the child, the faster they’ll figure it out; conversely, the older the adult, the longer it will take).

      Though simplicity rules, the AEGOp has a number of features that could allow a user to screw up its really excellent sound. There are EQ settings, 5 bands in all, DSP soundfields (Hall, Stadium, Theater, Club, Disable; the latter is the most useful), and unnecessary bass options (the system sounds its best when set “BASS CONFIG. OFF”). The buttons to avoid are labelled Field, EQ On/Off, EQ Setup (all in a row), and Bass Manager. You also have to be careful with the Pro Logic settings because in some settings it will override Dolby Digital or DTS with Pro Logic. Set it to Auto or Disable.

      However, there are 4 programmable Preset buttons that will allow customized settings of surround and bass options as desired. A little initial setup by a dealer can make the system’s operation very fuss free if you’re careful to avoid the already mentioned buttons, and if you do hit one, a preset can be there to save you.

      All that said, this is a very good sounding home theatre system, and one that manifests itself in a large way sonically while being virtually invisible physically. The measurements, all pink noise sweeps, partially tell us why. Though there’s a bit of upper bass bloom around 300 Hz, the AEGO5 is very smooth in frequency response, with bass that extends cleanly to 40 Hz (-3 dB), and still has impact at 30 Hz, down only 8 dB. The upper octaves shelve down about 2 dB, appropriate for a smaller room, but extend smoothly beyond 10 kHz.

Acoustic Energy AEGO5 home theater system frequency response

      I couldn’t measure the system without the subwoofer, since it feeds the speakers for all channels, but I did measure the sub alone, and it can be seen to roll off smoothly above 150 Hz (the little glitch just above the LMS logo at 10 kHz is a computer artifact), down over 20 dB at 1 kHz.

      Dispersion of the system is very smooth, with a slight top end rolloff seen at 15 and 30o off axis. That’s another reason the tiny satellites integrate so well with each other and the subwoofer. The excellent dispersion helps create seamless soundfields between each speaker pair side to side and front to back. Whether listening to music or soundtracks, I found the AEGO sound dynamic, sparkling, and very engaging.

      And a few comments are in order about the two-channel version of this system. You can think of the AEGO2 as the world’s smallest and possibly best computer speaker system, or as an ideal desktop system. To my ears, it’s the best thing in really small speakers I’ve heard since the D-Box powered speakers, which I bought as a system for my wife to use with a portable CD player in the combined dining room/kitchen area upstairs.

      I’m being quoted in a Paradigm ad these days, saying “Forget the `B’ brand…spend your money on these”, and that’s a notion that certainly applies to both Acoustic Energy AEGO systems. And at only $595, the stereo version is an especially good buy.

Andrew Marshall

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