What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 21 May 2008, 3:00pm

Neat Momentum 3i

Tested at £1790
100100
5

Some of the most enjoyable standmounters around. They deserve serious consideration

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For

  • A fast, dynamic and massively enjoyable sound
  • excellent timing

Against

  • An enthusiastic treble, so take care with system matching

They are terrific speakers, but you're in for a disappointment if you expect Neat's Momentum 3is to ooze luxury. They don't. We're not saying the build of these standmounters is fragile or the finish sloppy: it's just we'd expect something classier from a design that nudges the £2000 mark.

The Momentum 3is are on surer ground when it comes to their engineering. The technical highlight is the use of twin mid/bass drivers. The second unit is mounted inside the cabinet, directly behind the one you can see. This arrangement, called isobaric loading, is rarely used because it's hard to optimise and increases costs. But, done properly, it will give significantly increased bass authority.

Punches with ferocity
We're glad Neat has got it right, because the Momentum 3is have a deeply impressive bass performance. It is taut, and punches with a ferocity you'd scarcely credit from a box that stands just 38cm high.

Listen to Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music and these Neats are happy pounding out the hard-hitting basslines. Unlike most rivals, they fail to crumble even when pushed to very high levels. The 3is also have an explicit mid-band that positively throws detail at the listener, and makes even densely packed vocals easy to understand. Timing, and the ability to latch onto a rhythm track specifically, is excellent.

Subtle sounds
Switch to the likes of Ravel's Bolero and you'll find these Momentums capable of a great deal of subtlety and insight, too. They're not the most tonally neutral speakers around – their treble is far too enthusiastic for that – but when it comes to getting to the heart of the music, little does better.

Judge these Neats with your ears rather your eyes and we've no doubt you'll be impressed. With a carefully chosen, tonally refined system, the Momentum 3is are as musical as they come.

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