Neat Acoustics began life as a hi-fi shop based in Darlington, County Durham. North Eastern Audio Traders, as it was called then, saw a gap in the market for a musical small speaker and decided to develop one. The process lasted 18 months, and the result was the Petite, which we reviewed in 1993.
The £525 standmounter’s plain appearance and relatively low-tech drive units might have made it look like a budget offering, but the sound quality was terrific. Neat’s unusual design process – where listening took priority over measurement – resulted in a truly entertaining performance.
MORE: Neat Petite SX review
The Petites sounded best on solid stands, positioned relatively close to a rear wall, and they craved a quality input. While they’d produce a pleasing sound with price-compatible kit, a move to top-end pre/powers and suitably capable turntables lifted performance notably.
These standmounters timed brilliantly and delivered dynamic shifts with enthusiasm. These were speakers through which to enjoy, rather than analyse, music.
As the name suggests, they are small, standing just 30cm high. The lack of stature made the omission of truly deep bass understandable, but get past the lack of extension and you’d find the lows as tuneful as they come.
The current Neat Motive SX3s have inherited much of the originals’ character. Moving with the times, they are smarter in finish and deliver a greater degree of insight and tonal accuracy. Yet at heart they remain speakers that make listening to music fun – and that’s a talent to be cherished.
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