Acoustic Energy Active Pro 5.1 review

With its incredible all-round performance, Acoustic Energy's Active Pro Sub Sat 5.1 package represents great value, even at £3000 Tested at £3035.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A great value proposition, even if it does cost more than £3000: a stunning listen


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    Exceptional all-round performance, with stunning transparency and dynamics


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    Plain finish

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    vertical ‘centre’ speaker might be awkward

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    active design might be a pain too

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    sub’s not quite as good as the speakers

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Unlike most pricey subwoofer-satellite systems, Acoustic Energy's new Pro Sub Sat speaker package is utilitarian, straight-edged and plain.

It's been designed for studio use first and foremost, where design fripperies come second to sonic requirements. But even so – you've really got to want this system in your room.

Still: once you've heard it, there's every chance that want it you will. An active set-up, the Pro Sub Sat boasts wonderful accuracy, transparency and speed.

Like its larger AE22 Active siblings (much loved here) its exceptional dynamics belie its modest proportions, ensuring a sound that teems with energy. Simply put, this is one of the finest £3000 speaker packages – of any type – you can buy.

A special active design
What makes it so special? First, its active design: there's 75W of power amplification inside each sealed-box ProSat enclosure, with 50W dedicated to the aluminium mid/bass driver and a further 25W to a distinctive ring-radiating tweeter.

That confers huge performance advantages, not least because it entirely removes your surround amplifier's power (and relative quality) from the equation.

You will need multiple power points located around your living room, plus long RCA or XLR interconnects to hook up each speaker. And, of course, your amp or processor will need suitable audio outputs, too.

The subwoofer is also active, with 200W driving its twin 25cm aluminium drivers. It includes both inputs and outputs for each channel; a simpler single-cable LFE connection is also included for standard AV outputs.

Hugely revealing sound
And the sound? Spectacular. Brilliantly revealing of even the subtlest details, thunderously dynamic and amazingly articulate, even with the fastest and most complex multichannel rhythms.

Our only gripe is that the ProSub seems a little out of step with the ProSats, sounding a little slower and less expressive – but to an extent that's only a reflection of the extraordinary agility of the speakers, which serves to highlight the sub's comparative lack of pace.

This is a fabulous speaker package. It's not for everyone, but in sound per pound terms, it's incredibly hard to beat.

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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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