Enhanced Clarity & Detail without “Cupped Hands” Colorations
I’ve long been fascinated by Acoustic Energy monitor-type loudspeakers, but—until recently—had not had the opportunity to review a set. For Playback issue 22, though, I’m working on a project to review the relatively affordable Acoustic Energy Radiance-series 5.1-channel surround system. For those of you unfamiliar with the Radiance product family, it consists of the following elements:
- Radiance 1, 2-way, reflex loaded, stand-mount monitor
- Radiance 2, 2.5-way, reflex loaded, floorstander
- Radiance 3, 3-way, reflex loaded, floorstander
- Radiance Centre, 2.5-way, reflex loaded, center channel
- Radiance Sub, closed box (acoustic suspension), powered subwoofer with 200 watt amplifier
The Playback system uses a pair of Radiance 2s and a Radiance Centre for the front channel, a pair of Radiance 1s as surrounds, and a Radiance Sub.
Acoustic Energy highlights four specific pieces of technology used in its Radiance-series speakers (apart from the sub, of course). These are:
- Curved, acoustically braced cabinets
- Aluminum LF and LF/MF drive units
- Ring-radiator tweeters
- A so-called DXT lens (which appears to be a form of waveguide for the ring-radiator tweeter).
Truth to tell, part of why I wanted to review the Radiance models had to do with their somewhat uncommon use of ring-radiator-type tweeters, but in conjunction with a waveguide-like lens (most of the speakers I’ve sampled that use ring-radiator tweeters mount them flush with the speakers front baffle plate). My curiosity was piqued by AE’s description of the ostensible benefits of its DXT lens, which I’ll quote verbatim, here:
“The lens improves two components of the sound –
Firstly, integration between high and low frequencies is more natural and seamless than in conventional speakers. This is crucial for realistic reproduction of the midrange—the human voice in particular.
Secondly, the lens creates far better integration of sound into the room environment. This integrated sound is more expansive and ‘live’ than you would usually hear from a conventional speaker, while remaining easy to listen to. Detail is abundant but always part of the musical whole.”
Interesting comments, aren’t they?
How does the DXT lens work out in actual practice? Well, to my surprise, it works pretty much as Acoustic Energy claims it does in the passage quoted above. Both on film soundtracks and on subtle musical material, the Radiance ring-radiator tweeter + DXT lens package conveys a significantly heightened sense of detail and dynamic shading, yet without the “shouty” or “cupped-hands” colorations that some waveguides and/or horn-loading systems tend to produce. What AE has done here is to give us the benefits of a good tweeter/waveguide system—meaning tighter focus, heightened dynamic snap, and more finely rendered low-level sonic details—yet without any of the potential downside effects (no “shout,” no “honk,” no exaggerated upper midrange/lower treble artifacts, and no fake spotlighting of treble details). For all of these reasons, I regard AE’s DXT lens as a success—one that makes a good speaker system that much better.
Stay tuned for the full Radiance system review to appear in Playback issue 22 on avguide.com.