Acoustic Energy AE1 MkIII SE Review Alhambra CA
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Acoustic Energy AE1 MkIII SE Review
December 11, 2008 By Geoffrey Morrison
1 of 100
In the first two sentences of Acoustic Energy's web page on the AE1 Mk III SE, the word "special" is used four times.
Normally I would scoff at such repetition of an already over used word. In this case though, they don't seem to be resorting to hyperbole.
Mr. Wizard, take us back to the old tymes
If we travel way back to the old days, ok, 1988, Acoustic Energy unleashed on the world their AE1, a fairly non-descript two-way that garnered praise from press and customers alike. It has gone through several updates and changes over the years, the most recent being the AE1 MkIII. The goal with the new SE version of the MkIII was to make the best small speaker Acoustic Energy has ever made.
I would have loved to have been in the room when AE management decided to give the go-ahead to make this speaker. I can imagine the engineers drooling at the idea to just "make the best possible." Cost, for this one, takes a back seat.
As you can imagine, only the finest in materials were used for this UK designed and built speaker. The cabinet is 18mm MDF, internally braced.
That in and of itself isn't totally out of the ordinary, but the additional 4mm steel plate lining glued to the inside is. All of this makes for one heavy 12-inch tall speaker. Drop one of these on your toes and you'll really know it. So will your neighbors.
The second order crossover at 3kHz was redesigned with the result being that it requires less than half the number of parts than its predecessor. AE engineers extensively auditioned each of these components.
My favorite item of all the bits you can't see is the multi-strand silver internal wiring. Silver is actually a better electrical conductor than copper, though you know, just a bit more expensive.
The 38mm (1.5-inch) ring-radiator tweeter has a claimed upper-end frequency response of 40kHz. The 110mm (4.33-inch) woofer is AE's spun aluminum cone with a die-cast magnesium chassis and twin neodymium magnets.
The eight layer finish is done by hand, and is available in black or white, or with a cherry veneer. Or you can get it in whatever high-gloss color you want for a bit more.
The first selection I chose is one of my favorite discs, Bach: Brandenburg Concertos from Vanguard on SACD.
This originally analog recording is nearly flawless in both performance and sound. What struck me first was the fullness of the sound from the MkIII SEs.
The speakers were warm, not boomy, and had a clean treble with no bite. Further listening revealed something I didn't expect. I've heard this disc on many systems, but this was the first to reveal such timbre in the violins and violas.
Throughout this and other selections, the treble was excellent, though perhaps slightly tilted up. Thankfully, the tweeter sounds so good, that not only is this not an issue, but probably just be referred to as extra clarity by most listeners.