What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 12 Mar 2009, 12:00pm

Acoustic Energy Radiance 1

Tested at £600
80100
4

The Radiance 1s sound entertaining enough but they’re too rough around the edges to land the full five stars

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For

  • Awesome power handling
  • capable of impressive bass weight considering cabinet size
  • detailed treble
  • rhythmic sound

Against

  • Midrange lacks finesse and emotion
  • upper midrange sounds coarse

Acoustic Energy has been a little quiet on the speaker front over the last year or so. But not without reason. The Cirencester-based manufacturer has been hard at work designing a new range of speakers – Radiance.

AE's aim with the Radiance is to produce a more entertaining sound than previous generations of its speakers, without sacrificing too much of the refinement we've come to expect from the company.

The baby of this new range is the Radiance 1:  a two-way bookshelf design. Looking at the speakers, they still exhibit characteristics of AE speakers of old.

The curved cabinet and aluminium driver units are old-school AE, as are ?the ring-radiator tweeters, traditionally used on the company's more expensive speakers.

Brand-new tweeters
The tweeters are actually a brand-new model and are being used in conjunction with AE's new DXT Lens (Diffraction Expansion Technology).

AE claims that this technology allows the speaker to control dispersion, while also improving off-axis performance and integration between the tweeter and mid/bass driver.

The speaker has also been designed using a very simple crossover arrangement that includes capacitors but not resistors.

Don't worry about volume
The first thing that strikes you about the Radiance 1s is the exceptional amount of bass that they produce, considering their relatively compact dimensions.

A few seconds of AE's punchy, taut rhythmic delivery and your feet won't be able resist a spot of fervent foot-tapping.

Even when you crank up the volume to Kanye West's Love Lockdown the AE's won't crumble or distort under the strain.

High frequencies sound detailed and clear with no hint of brightness, and the speakers take a focused approach to the sound.

An unwelcome edge
So far, so good, but the Radiance 1s aren't quite the finished article. There's a spot of harshness in the upper midrange that give them a rather coarse edge.

Where vocals and string instruments are concerned they don't exhibit the same natural warmth and emotive grasp as the top speakers at this price point.

You should bear this ?in mind when system-matching and stay clear of any bright-sounding electronics.

So, the Radiance 1s have got this new range off to a solid start. It just remains to be seen how the other members of this speaker clan fare.