However, this means a loudspeaker that has a 84dB sensitivity, maxes out at around 98dB and places a recommended maximum power output of about 25W. Running in is also a lengthy procedure, with improvements still taking place after 100+ hours. However, it’s an easy eight ohm loudspeaker as standard (it can be specified with higher nominal impedance, if you are using the device with a low-heft amplifier). I used the speaker with a Sugden A21se, and the combination of the right power envelope and no crossover distortion from the Class A operation of that excellent amplifier made this a perfect partnership. I also used Audience’s solid-core monocrystal copper AU24e speaker wire to good effect.
The Audience speaker has the same fundamental limitations of all point source speakers – frequency extension, loudness headroom and both efficiency and power handling. In other words, it doesn’t go deep (although a lot deeper than you might expect if you put them close to a rear wall as recommended), and it won’t play that loud. And, if you get what it does, you won’t care!
It sounds like you have direct-coupled your ears to the amplifier terminals. Active or passive, we are used to a crossover in the signal chain and through the Audience The ONE you begin to discover just how much that gets in the way of the sound. The midrange is fluid and sublime, creating a sound far wider and far bigger than these boxes have any right to deliver… and they disappear. Close your eyes and listen; you will not be able to point to the loudspeaker box within the soundstage. Piano in particular is astonishingly ‘there’ and real.
The curious thing here is, you’d expect it to work well with small scale music (and it does – Beck’s Sea Change sounds uncannily like you have a living, breathing pained musician and his band physically sitting in front of you), but what you don’t expect is how well the sound works with bigger, orchestral works (the slow build of Ravel’s Bolero played by Barenboim and the Orchestra de Paris on DG is an acid test). It doesn’t break up under such stress; it simply hones the sound down at the extremes (the increase in dynamics comes to a halt about three minutes before the end of the Bolero). OK, so those who judge a system by the sound of tympani and piccolo will never be impressed, but the rest of us will find real music played here.