Acoustic Insight Aurousal VSx review

Great in parts, but suffer from a somewhat shouty, uneven tonal balance Tested at £1650

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The VSx is great in parts. It’s worth a listen if you have a taste for the unconventional


  • +

    Speed, resolution and truly top-class stereo imaging


  • -

    A somewhat shouty, uneven tonal balance

  • -

    diffuse deep bass

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It’s rare that we come across a product so uneven in its abilities as Acoustic Insight’s Aurousal VSx. In areas such as agility, timing and resolution these floorstanders are as good as we’ve heard at this price.

They can take a complex piece of music such as Mahler’s Symphony No.2 and deliver it with all the precision and insight anyone could expect at this level.

Once they are properly positioned in our room – close to a rear wall with some strong toe-in – stereo imaging is stable and focused. Equally impressive is the way the leading and trailing edges of notes are defined. They’re truly informative performers.

A new way of metal-coned thinking

The two 10cm metal-coned drivers are full-range units that flex to reduce radiating area as frequency rises. It’s the opposite of the rigid-piston thinking behind most such drivers, the idea being to maintain high frequency response and dispersion.

The two larger drivers work in parallel, augmented by a switchable and adjustable dome tweeter. Despite the full-range claims for the twin metal drivers, turning the tweeter off results in a closed-in sound. We kept it on, but at a low level.

We tested an earlier version of these floorstanders back in April. This new model tightens up the bass performance, but the lowest notes still sound vague to us, lacking the solidity of the higher frequencies.

And the forward-sounding midrange now turns shouty and coarse with little provocation.

This is a divisive product. If you value its strengths above all, little does better. However, if you want a balanced performer, there are more well-rounded rivals.

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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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