Acoustic Energy’s Neo V2, in both its regular and 7.1-channel ‘Max’ varieties, is a formidable speaker range, but not everyone can fit that many bulky floorstanders into their living room. To that end, AE has also launched a more affordable Compact system that distils the impressive tech of its larger speakers into lounge-friendly boxes, bringing you powerful sound without the spatial imposition.
Significantly, Compact Neo is a 6.1-channel system, marrying three pairs of the new Compact One bookshelf speakers to the Neo Subwoofer. This, as the blurb is at pains to points out, is perfect for listening to the recently-released Star Wars Blu-ray box-set with its DTS HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtracks (released on the same day as this system), and has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that the Compact Ones are boxed in pairs, you cynical lot.
Compact One may be smaller than other AE bookshelf speakers like the Neo One, but it boasts equally luxurious construction. It’s built like an Aussie scrum half and surprisingly heavy for its size – that’s down to the extensively braced 18mm-thick MDF cabinet.
A removable cloth grille covers the drivers, which uses plugs as opposed to magnets. Remove it and you’ll uncover a light silver panel that doesn't look as good as in the pictures, but the cabinet's Vermont Walnut finish is a classy touch (it’s also available in Gloss Black).
On the back of each speaker is a pair of gold-plated binding posts housed in a circular recess, above which is a bass port. If you’re using them in a confined space or against a wall, then there’s a bung for the bass port that limits bass energy being projected back into the cabinet and colouring the sound.
The Compact One is designed to be used vertically, but you can get away with using them on their side if need be. This is particularly important for the speaker on centre channel duties, as people might want to place it on a narrow shelf below the TV.
You also get wall mounting brackets in the box, providing further space-saving possibilities, and again the bass port bungs will come in handy when wall-mounting.
The Neo sub is the same one provided with the Neo Max and original Neo systems. Finished in the same Vermont Walnut as the satellites (although it also comes in Black Ash), it’s as sturdy and good-looking as subs get, and at 410(h) x 360(w) x 325(d)mm it shouldn’t be too difficult to accommodate.