MILAN TOP AUDIO 2011: Neat gives its Ultimatum range a new flagship

We've almost got used to British speaker company Neat Acoustics launching 'statement' designs at overseas audio shows, and this year's Top Audio show announcement is no exception.

In fact, it's no less than a new flagship model for the company's Ultimatum range: the Ultimatum XL10 (left) replaces the long-running MF9, which has been available for nine years.

The new speakers, which stand 1.5m tall and weigh 60kg apiece, use a total of nine drive units apiece, housed in an enclosure containing no fewer than eight discrete internal spaces, each one optimised for its function.

The obvious drive-units are the 26mm SONOMEX tweeter, straddled by a pair of 16.8cm Neat mid/bass units, and in turn by a pair of 16.8cm bass units.

But what's not immediately apparent is the pair of additional bass units inside the cabinet, creating two isobaric loaded sub-bass enclosures, each tuned differently to optimise room-placement flexibility.

The midrange units are again in different-sized enclosures, to avoid resonances, and the tweeter is in its own sealed sub-enclosure.

Finally, the speaker uses a pair of upward firing EMIT-type supertweeters, designed to enhance the sense of space and air in the sound.

For all these drive units, the speakers use a minimalist crossover comprising just five elements (plus damping & attenuating resistors), which Neat says uses 'precise tolerance, low-loss air-cored inductors and newly developed polypropylene film & foil capacitors.'

'The speaker exploits predominantly first-order crossover slopes and mechanical roll-offs for a natural, uninhibited performance.'

The cabinets are made from 18mm birch plywood sources from slow-growing Scandinavian forests - for density and consistency - and the drivers are mounted in a baffle formed of a 4.5cm thick sandwich of birch ply, polyethylene and MDF, for rigidity and self-damping.

Neat's Ultimatum XL10s will sell for £15,245/pr in figured birch, black ash, natural ash, oak, cherry, walnut or rosenut real wood veneers, or £17,080 in premium finishes including piano black or white, velvet cloud and red velvet cloud.

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.