All of the 3-Series speakers feature AE’s spun aluminium cones – a feature of its famed AE1 monitors – which are hard anodised on both sides to create a super-stiff ‘ceramic layer/aluminium sandwich’. They’re joined by a new soft dome tweeter, perfect phase crossovers and a motor cooling design that ensures high power handling (150W RMS).
The two-way 301s use one of these 110mm spun aluminium low/midrange drivers, coupled with the 28mm fabric dome tweeter, while the 307 Centre uses dual 110mm drivers with the same tweeter.
As for the sub, it’s equipped with a 300mm pulp cone, 60mm thermally-bonded voice coil and long-throw magnet – all powered by a monster 500W amplifier. On the back is a selection of dials for tweaking the volume, crossover frequency and phase, plus stereo cinch input/output and separate LFE input.
Not only is the 3-Series blessed with a gorgeous design but it also smashes it out the park when playing movies. The sound is muscular, insightful and cohesive from front to back, resulting in an immersive and exciting listening experience.
All of the speakers are remarkably skilled at mining out sonic details. When watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray (played on an OPPO deck through the Onkyo TX-NR818), the soundtrack is peppered with delicate, natural-sounding effects and layered with gentle background ambience.
String scores are silky and fluid, while small nuances give voices real character and believability – the Goblin King being a fine example. This crisp top end gives everything a textured, airy feel that most budget speakers can only hope to achieve.
The seamless tonality between each speaker, coupled with their wide dispersion, truly surrounds you in the action without pinning surround sounds down to a particular location.
We’re also impressed by the speakers’ speed and agility. Their sound is tight and snappy with no lag when it cuts to silence. They go from loud to quiet and back again in an instant, demonstrated when the dead Goblin King slams down onto the dwarves as the dust settles after their battle. The impact is full and forceful.
The battle between the Pale Orc and the dwarves at the movie’s climax is conveyed with dynamism but it never steps into bright or harsh territory. It’s this balance between vigour, clarity and composure that makes 3-Series such a success.
It’s topped off by incredibly potent bass from the 308 Sub, which integrates seamlessly with the 301s and 307 and never lets its mammoth power smother them. There’s slam and scale, but despite this its power bass notes sound tight and agile. Nowhere is this more apparent that during the Stone Giants fight, where boulders thump into rock with an immense thump.
The 3-Series is a highly impressive speaker system for the money. Its price tag certainly isn’t peanuts, but it’s much less than you’d normally expect to pay for a system of this calibre. Its build quality and styling are simply stunning, but it’s the outstanding audio performance that really seals the deal.