Where do you stand on the notion of ‘quantity’? Do you subscribe to the idea that ‘more is more’? If you like being able to see, as well as hear, an overt indication of the money you’ve spent on your audio system, read on. Acoustic Energy has some floorstanding loudspeakers that might well interest you.
For the thick end of 35 years now, Acoustic Energy has quietly been turning out some of the most accomplished loudspeakers the United Kingdom has had to offer. Certainly I find myself returning to the AE1 Reference Series mkIII SE standmounting speaker from 2008 time and again – they combine fearsome powers of analysis with wanton levels of entertainment more completely than any alternative.
The 500 is Acoustic Energy’s flagship range, and the AE520 floorstander is the biggest and most expensive member of it. In terms of cabinet dimension, the AE520 is probably too slim to be described as ‘imposing’ – but where simple driver-count is concerned, it’s not so much ‘imposing’ as ‘intimidating’.
The AE520 is available in a choice of piano white, piano black or American Walnut wood veneer finishes – each one, in its own way, serves to highlight the svelte cabinet dimensions. With the (necessarily long, magnetically attached) grilles in place, and standing on their chunky, off-board two-piece spikes, these speakers are about as discreet as a big floorstander ever get. But take those grilles off, and their visual attitude undergoes something of a change.
There’s no denying it’s unusual to see a total of a dozen drivers in a pair of speakers that aren’t specifically designed to give club-goers a temporary hearing threshold shift. But each AE520 features a 25mm carbon-fibre dome tweeter (sitting in the wide dispersion aluminium waveguide Acoustic Energy’s been refining for a while now), a couple of 125mm carbon-fibre midrange drivers and three (count ‘em!) 125mm carbon-fibre bass drivers.
The midrange drivers are fitted with oversized (35mm) voice coils in a push for optimum motor force and low thermal compression. Each is mounted in a dedicated sealed enclosure. The three bass drivers, meanwhile, are reflex-loaded by a large rear-facing slot-shaped port – this shape is favoured by Acoustic Energy for its low-turbulence characteristics, as well as the knock-on effect of making the speaker notably forgiving of position relative to a rear surface.