We are busy souls here at What Hi-Fi?; so there’s rarely time to sit and wait for a pair of speakers to run in. But it’s testament to Acoustic Energy’s AE309s that by the time the process was complete, we’d almost forgotten that we’d swapped them for our usual ATC reference speakers.
Not that our ATCs are replaceable with a pair of towers costing less than a grand, but for that jump not to be immediately noticeable the AE309s must be a pretty capable pair of speakers.
Build and compatibility
The AE309s certainly look the part. Their slim-line cabinets, measuring 28cm wide and just under 18cm deep, each house a 28mm aluminium tweeter and a pair of 13cm mid-bass drive units configured in a 2.5-way arrangement.
The tweeters have been developed specially for Acoustic Energy’s 300 series, using the company’s Wide Dispersion Technology waveguides to better match dispersion to the woofers, with the promise of a wider listening sweet spot.
Those woofers feature a ceramic aluminium sandwich cone with a shallow profile and powerful long-throw motor system, and are aided in their bass response by a rear-firing slot-shaped reflex port.
These speakers harness power and range beyond their dimensions – they will fit into a snug space, but have the scale to fill a larger room. That versatility runs to the heart of the AE309s, and is echoed by their handling of music.
Of course, you need to give them a decent time to run in before you’ll hear how capable they are – as well as screwing in the spikes included in the box – but almost immediately you’ll get sense of their innate musicality.
It’s in the way everything hangs together; each piece of music is effortlessly whole. Rhythmically, the AE309s are tight but non-regimental, they can be playful and laid back when necessary, as much they’re able to hammer home a pulsing 4/4 beat.
Dynamically, they display enough range to accommodate a full orchestra, but most pleasingly, have that same fluid character that is comfortable conveying expression without being too up front.
Acoustic Energy AE309 tech specs
Max power 175W
Impedance 6 ohms
Finishes Dimensions (hwd) 90 x 17.5 x 28cm
Weight 22kg (each)
It isn’t the most spacious of soundstages. There is room for the music to breathe, but things are kept relatively compact so no instrument is left isolated or untethered from its cohorts.
We get a healthy dose of bass weight as well. It’s not the most taut response we’ve heard, but that comes across as extra body rather than tubbiness; the AE309s are still capable of tracking a swift walking bassline and have the low-end punch necessary to make your guts wobble.
It’s noticeable, though, rather than it skewing the balance. There is richness throughout the frequency range, extending nicely into a treble that toes the line between rolling off too much high end and allowing itself to become overly bright.
There’s a comparison to be made with Monitor Audio’s Silver 200 floorstanders, in that the AE309s focus on this kind of musicality over studiously analytical detail. Like the Silvers, Acoustic Energy has made an insightful pair of speakers, but these seem concerned more with conveying the mood of the music than being blindsided by resolution over expression.
A more spacious and detailed performance is available in the shape of the Award-winning Fyne Audio F501s, but you will have to spend an extra £200 for the privilege.
Passive speakers are generally plug-in-and-play, but for these Acoustic Energy towers that rings as true for their performance as much as it does for physically wiring them into your system.
These are simply a fun, well-rounded pair of floorstanders that are as likeable as anything we’ve heard for under a grand. We’d urge you to offer them an audition.
- Sound 5
- Compatibility 5
- Build 5
Read our Fyne Audio F501 review