Lots of speaker manufacturers now make compact floorstanders, but Neat is the only one we know that makes ones that lean back. Of course, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: if you're going to make a short speaker, you might as well aim the drivers up at the listener's ears.
Even if there was no sonic reasoning behind the innovative design, we'd still be very keen on the aesthetics of the Motive 1s. The backwards lean gives them an air of unpretentious uniqueness, and the real wood finish is classily unfussy.
Start with the Tori Amos classic, Cornflake Girl, and the Neats make for a charming listen, too. The numerous layers of instruments are picked out individually, allowing you to follow each at will, but with enough cohesion to avoid damaging the integrity of the track as a whole. It really is very well organised indeed.
The speakers also do a great job with the vocals, delivering them with real detail and clarity. When the two backing singers come in, the Neats neatly separate them into pockets in the left and right channels, where some speakers clumsily blend them into the central voice.Bass driver shows signs of softnessCharming as these Neats are, they're not without their failings. The most obvious comes from the additional bass driver, which isn't present on the superb Motive 2s. Although it allows greater bass extension over the smaller floorstander in the Neat range, and is tonally well integrated, it isn't as taut as it could be.
Unfortunately, the bass softness bleeds into the midrange just enough to rob the overall delivery of some of its vim and vigour. This means that neither the bass drum or snare of Cornflake Girl has the kick or snap to drive the body of the track to the degree that it should.
More after the break
Our other niggle is with the tweeter. It's a slick concave design, but it lacks the detail and control of better high-frequency drivers. Try Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and there's the odd bit of sibilance and some missing body at the top end.
Despite the criticisms, we're still very fond of the Motive 1s; they're charming, unique speakers – but there are better all-round speakers in this group.