Neat Motive 1 review

The Motive range has many fans, but at this price you can get a more accomplished, all-round performance Tested at £1350.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The Motive range has many fans, but at this price you can get a more accomplished, all-round performance


  • +

    Unpretentious, unique design and styling

  • +

    great organisation, clarity and tonal balance

  • +

    bass driver goes nice and deep


  • -

    Bass and midrange could do with greater punch

  • -

    treble is occasionally bright

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.

Lots of speaker manufacturers now make compact floorstanders, but Neat is the only one we know that makes ones that lean back. Of course, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: if you're going to make a short speaker, you might as well aim the drivers up at the listener's ears.

Even if there was no sonic reasoning behind the innovative design, we'd still be very keen on the aesthetics of the Motive 1s. The backwards lean gives them an air of unpretentious uniqueness, and the real wood finish is classily unfussy.

Start with the Tori Amos classic, Cornflake Girl, and the Neats make for a charming listen, too. The numerous layers of instruments are picked out individually, allowing you to follow each at will, but with enough cohesion to avoid damaging the integrity of the track as a whole. It really is very well organised indeed.

The speakers also do a great job with the vocals, delivering them with real detail and clarity. When the two backing singers come in, the Neats neatly separate them into pockets in the left and right channels, where some speakers clumsily blend them into the central voice.

Bass driver shows signs of softness

Charming as these Neats are, they're not without their failings. The most obvious comes from the additional bass driver, which isn't present on the superb Motive 2s. Although it allows greater bass extension over the smaller floorstander in the Neat range, and is tonally well integrated, it isn't as taut as it could be.

Unfortunately, the bass softness bleeds into the midrange just enough to rob the overall delivery of some of its vim and vigour. This means that neither the bass drum or snare of Cornflake Girl has the kick or snap to drive the body of the track to the degree that it should.

Our other niggle is with the tweeter. It's a slick concave design, but it lacks the detail and control of better high-frequency drivers. Try Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings and there's the odd bit of sibilance and some missing body at the top end.

Despite the criticisms, we're still very fond of the Motive 1s; they're charming, unique speakers – but there are better all-round speakers in this group.

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