We’ve long been fans of Epoz’s range of AktiMate speakers, and the brand new Blues simply reinforce that opinion.
These are terrific powered speakers that deliver an awful lot of performance and connectivity for the money.
Not that they’re perfect mind. The Blues are big, standing 32cm high.
They also need to be placed on quality stands positioned at least 20cm from a rear wall to prevent their weighty bass becoming too dominant.
These things push them out of consideration for a traditional desktop speaker role in our view. In any case, AktiMate’s own Micro or Ruark’s MR1 fulfil that role brilliantly for around half the price.
We think the Blues make most sense for someone who wants a high-quality alternative to traditional budget hi-fi, someone that puts performance higher on their priorities than style or compact size but still wants great connectivity.
Connections are something these speakers are not short of. Alongside the usual analogue stereo inputs there’s a trio of digital connections – USB (24-bit/96kHz capable), optical and coax (both accept 24-bit/192kHz data steams) – and the increasingly common Bluetooth (4.0) option.
You also get a relatively nice and easy to use remote. This handset is a good deal nicer than those usually supplied with such products.
These speakers are nicely made. The white gloss finish on our samples is hard to fault and the enclosures feel nice and solid. The drive unit complement is a 25mm soft dome tweeter and a 16.5cm polypropylene mid/bass driver per cabinet.
The left hand speaker – which is marked as such – is the brain. It houses a 60-watt per channel amplifier and all the connections.
There’s a rotary volume control and a simple LED display on the front panel. Perhaps it’s too simple given that there’s no clear indication of the input chosen.
The only sure way of telling as far as we can see is by pressing the appropriate button on the remote and waiting for sound to come through.
Start listening and any such issues are forgotten quickly. Treat these Epozes like proper hi-fi - take care with positioning and feed them a good signal - and that’s the way they behave.
We start with Bluetooth, pairing the speakers to a Sony Xperia S phone and are pleased with what we hear. Properly set-up these standmounters deliver a wide and nicely layered sound stage.
It certainly a world away in terms of spaciousness from the small-scale sounds most single box alternatives offer. Tonally things are well balanced.
There’s a healthy dose of refinement, which helps the speakers cope well with less than perfect source material. But, it’s all done without sacrificing bite and attack.
We find ourselves impressed by the way these speakers highlight the dynamic subtleties of a piece like Time from Hans Zimmer, and their muscularity when dealing with the music’s seismic bassline.
There’s plenty of weight and power at low frequencies and it’s coupled to a decent amount of agility.
Put the speakers too close to a wall, let alone a corner, and that impressively powerful bass becomes over-bearing. Detail levels are good, as is made clear by the insight these speakers deliver with Michael Jackson’s Slave to the Rhythm.
They have no trouble tracking the multitude of instrumental strands or delivering the track’s propulsive rhythmic drive with considerable enthusiasm.
We’re pleased with the AktiMate’s way with dynamics too – these are rendered with real determination when the music demands and subtlety when things change down a gear.
Provided you’re happy to accommodate the Blue’s size and positioning demands there’s little else here to complain about.
Fine connectivity, terrific build and a lovely, engaging sound add up to making these AktiMates a superb buy. Highly recommended.