Acoustic Energy 305 review

Despite a number of strengths, the AE 305s are not punchy enough Tested at £1000

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Despite a number of strengths, the AE 305s are not punchy enough


  • +

    Impressive precision

  • +

    Good Integration

  • +

    Good looks


  • -

    Dynamics and timing need improvement

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The Acoustic Energy 305s are the floorstanders in the company’s midrange 3-Series that brought us the brilliant 301 standmounters, which we awarded five stars.

Therefore we hoped for great things from their larger siblings but, sadly, bigger doesn’t always mean better.


Acoustic Energy 305

Acoustic Energy 305

First impressions are good. We like the look of the AE 305s. The design is refreshing and more eye-catching than the typical square-edged cabinet, yet the minimalist approach is subtle enough not to look silly.

Build quality is impressive: solid and sturdy, with a high-gloss black or white finish that looks and feels every bit as premium as pricier speakers.

The front has an angled baffle, free of holes thanks to the magnetic speaker grilles.

There’s a 28mm fabric-dome tweeter and three 11cm aluminium cones (one for midrange and two for bass).

There’s also a reflex port, slot-shaped to reduce air turbulence and front-firing for unfussy positioning.

Around the back you will find a single pair of terminals, so there’s no biwiring. Despite a pleasing introduction, we find ourselves somewhat disappointed once we get down to business.


Acoustic Energy 305

Acoustic Energy 305

The 305s need better timing and greater dynamic punch. They don’t hit quite when they should, nor as hard as they should.

The result is a lack of enthusiasm, which undermines the entire performance. It’s a shame, because the AE 305s have some very strong points and are agile.

Whatever we throw at them, there is a precision to the way they start and stop, helping to give the sound clarity.

We like the amount of detail from the 305s: it means that instruments and vocals are textured and easily identified. They are also easily placed on the broad soundstage, which is well organised.

There’s impressive control, even at higher volumes. Crank it up and the sound never becomes harsh. Tonally, it’s a balanced performance, with no undue emphasis on any part of the frequency range.

The bass should also be applauded for its depth: there’s not too much of it, but it’s enough to have a decent stab at Nick Cave’s We No Who U R.

We’re also impressed by the seamless integration between frequencies, as well as the sense of cohesion. However, we can’t get past the restrained dynamics and timing. We keep wishing for a tighter sound.

No matter what we listen to, the music never feels particularly engaging. The AE 305s never seem to try very hard at getting your feet tapping, and performers sound almost bored.


Ultimately, though, there’s little you can do to change the overall performance of the AE 305s.

They look lovely, but similar money can get you a more entertaining sound elsewhere.

ORE: Best buys hi-fi speakers

MORE: Awards 2013 – all the winners

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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