Acoustic Energy Compact 1 review

The baby Acoustic Energy Compact 1s have a seriously grown-up sound Tested at £150

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A great blend of compact, stylish looks and grown-up performance


  • +

    Lovely styling and excellent build

  • +

    flexible over positioning

  • +

    mature, fluid, balanced sound


  • -

    Don’t give you the detail, dynamics or definition that some rivals do

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Without a point of reference it can be hard to work out the size of products from the picture, so we’ll start by saying these are very compact speakers, measuring just 22cm tall, 15cm wide and 20cm deep.

Those dinky dimensions mean the Acoustic Energy Compact 1s will fit just about anywhere you want, and while they sound their very best when placed on stands with some space around them, they’re still pretty tonally consistent and controlled in the bass if you cram them into a corner or mount them on the wall using the built-in bracket.

Easy-going and enjoyable sound
As with everything we test, we’ve listened to a heck of a lot of different music through these speakers, and we can safely say they’re impressively consistent.

There’s a fluidity and maturity that lets your music flow smoothly, and a seamless tonal range that means neither the bass nor treble ever sticks out more than it should.

This fluid, easy-going style lends itself best to acoustic numbers such as Bonnie Prince Billie’s Wolf Among Wolves or stripped-down classical like Bach’s Suite No.1 for solo cello, but here we started to notice a slight lack of detail, drive and dynamics compared with the best at this price.

Excellent build quality
Those minor gripes are brought further to the fore by a switch to more beats-driven music, with Little Dragon’s Ritual Union lacking the excitement, nuance and downright fun that a speaker such as the Dali Zensor 1 can produce.

That’s not to say we’re not keen on the Compact 1s. On the contrary, we entirely appreciate the excellent build quality and looks that effortlessly combine cuteness and seriousness.

Their grown-up, easy-going approach will please a lot of listeners, especially those looking to temper a slightly aggressive or excitable hi-fi. If space or cash is tight, hear these.

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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.

Read more about how we test