Having sampled the speakers using a variety of different tracks it’s safe to say that although they exceeded our expectations to some degree, the relatively low power output is still noticeable with bass performance the obvious casualty.
Knives Out by Radiohead, with its interweaving guitar lines and melodic bass line, showed how the speakers deal well with high and mid-range frequencies. Lead guitar lines were clear and well defined; while Thom Yorke’s uniquely whiny vocals were very evident. The bass line, however, although faintly audible was generally lacking in definition and volume. Pumping up the volume did help somewhat, but did remove some of the clarity. Still, it was very listenable despite the slight lack of bass.
Next up, November Rain by Guns N’ Roses – this song has a bit of everything making it a good test for audio equipment. Again, high and mid-range production was good though the power chords did reveal the lack of oomph so budding air guitarists may require something meatier.
For a slight change of pace we fired up We Come One by Faithless, and were pleasantly surprised. Although the speakers seem to struggle with low frequency guitar bass lines, the constant bass drum beat was well produced. It wasn’t by any means explosive, but there was clear definition in the sound which was pleasing.
Finally, Clubbed to Death by Rob D, a track full of high power bass lines and piercing strings. This track really did show some of the limitations of this set. Although the overall sound was crisp, the speakers really struggled with the bass lines making the track sound rather harsh and unpleasant to listen to.
What our general experience with the speakers showed was that though these Acoustic Energy units are excellent for their size, the relative lack of power and a dedicated bass driver means they lack warmth. For casual listening, however, they perform well enough.