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Neat Petite SX review

We love these sonically accomplished Neat Petite SXs for their sheer sense of musicality and enjoyment - if you've got the money, audition them Tested at £1250

5 Star Rating

Our Verdict

Few speakers are as complete as the Neat Petite

For

  • Excellent resolution, timing and focus make for a compelling listen

Against

  • Perceived value is not high
  • some will want more low-end positivity

The SX is the fourth generation of Neat's first ever speaker and arguably the best one yet.

The company has been extraordinarily consistent in its sonic priorities over the last couple of decades, and this SX version continues the trend of putting timing and dynamics ahead of all else.

The real triumph here is that traditional hi-fi qualities – such as tonal balance, detail resolution and stereo imaging, that often get compromised – are as good as anything else at this price level. It really is a case of having a cake and eating all of it.

We also find it astonishing that such an unassuming two-way box with an unglamorous, straightforward doped-paper mid/bass cone and soft-dome tweeter can produce such a musically convincing sound.

The Petites simply sound right. They're surefooted, stable and in control no matter whether they're asked to replay Massive Attack's Atlas Air at high levels or deliver Mozart's Symphony No 29 with all the scale, finesse and authority it deserves.

Not perfect, but close to it
By absolute standards these Neats are a touch restrained at the top-end and lack just a little bit of openness, but this character is easy to get used to.

The upside is that the highs strike a great balance between detail, bite and refinement. Listen to a poor recording and you'll hear every flaw, but crucially the shortcomings aren't overstated.

At just 31cm high, these are small speakers, so very deep bass isn't even an option. However, once mounted on solid stands the speakers never sound insubstantial or lightweight.

If you buy hi-fi to enjoy music rather than analyse recordings you'll love these speakers.

With suitably talented electronics – we're thinking of Naim's XS CD player and amp – and given a small to medium-sized room, these Petite SXs are as musical as speakers get for this money.

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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, New York 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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