Acoustic Energy Aegis Neo 7.2 £1850

17th Sep 2008 | 08:56

Acoustic Energy Aegis Neo 7.2

Expand your soundstage with twenty-three individual voice coils

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A behemoth home cinema system that boasts unrivalled power and fine build quality

Like:

Genuine synergy and effortless might; Excellent build quality

Dislike:

For dedicated cinema rooms only; Music comes second best

The Acoustic Energy Aegis Neo 7.2 system reviewed here uses three pairs of Aegis Neo 3 floorstanders, a pair of Acoustic Energy's matching Aegis subwoofers and a centre-channel enclosure (called the Neo Centre, funnily enough).

It was hooked up to an Onkyo TX-SR875 THX Ultra II 7-channel amp running discs via an HDMI-equipped Onkyo DV-SP504E player. All this was done in a specially-built room at AE's UK headquarters, since my own test room wasn't big enough to accommodate all the woodwork.

Big and beautiful

I gather from what was being said that some of the AE boffins are not so keen any more on the Neos' looks, and I spied some cabinets being worked on for the next-generation Neos that explained their feelings.

I, however, am pleased by the current Aegis Neo design – I really don't mind speakers that look like speakers. They're big and wooden (black ash and walnut finishes are also available), with vast black grilles, and sport only single speaker connections on the back. Plain? Yes. But these beauties speak of power; they're are all about the cutting-edge driver technology inside.

Frequency fiends

Firstly, they have high-end annular ring radiator 1in tweeters. These are a new-ish type of HF driver with
a point in the middle. Instead of a dome, they use a toroidal ring of material that is held in the centre as well as at the edge.

This makes them able to vibrate much faster than a normal tweeter and go so far up into bat frequencies that it can be perfectly undistorted way past our hearing (apparently). In short, they do a very high quality job.

Likewise, although not spun-alloy, the metal cones act as a heatsink for the voice coils' warmth – as always was the case with these – so you get a low power compression sound. That means they can get very much louder with amazing speed.

Beneath the tweeters sit two 5in pressed alloy mid-range drivers. I flung the animated movie Robots into the machine, a popular reference disc, and let the Neos rip. I will confess straightaway that the system was set a little polite for my taste, with 14dB removed from the bass. Call me a hooligan but I readjusted it from sensible to full-on.

Massive loudspeaker impact

The impact of the loudspeakers became huge and effortless, no doubt because there were so many cones being asked to share the soundstage amongst themselves.

The moment when Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) takes his invention to his dad's work and says 'Wonder-Bot Go to Work!' is a perfect example. As the small, robotic coffee pot whizzed around the room doing the washing up, the two-layer-deep sets of paired Neo 3s meant that, as well as the front stage with all the bass, I was getting one hell of a fly-around.

The dinky bot seemed to squeak all around the room. The bass is thunderous, but in a good way; even though I had reset the system for maximum punishment, it didn't get distressed. Having two 10in woofers on hand certainly helped.

The Neo's tiny radiator tweeters cut the mustard, too. The mayhem of Robots pinball-esque Cross
Town Express sequence finishes with a rare, delicate 'ting!' sound that is rendered clear and crisp.

I also gave the Neo system an extensive run with music – Stevie Steven's mad flamenco-flavoured Mambo a GoGo on DVD-Audio is a test favourite – and yet I wasn't all that impressed. With music the system wasn't as edgy and impactful as I would have expected. A small caveat but worth noting.

Heavenly home cinema system

So, yes, this is a ridiculously big pile of boxes. But if you have, or are planning, a dedicated cinema room, then the synergy created from this full-fat system is tangible.

The audio comes from everywhere, the bass is oppressive – deliciously so – and seems to reach deep while the details are fast and realistic. It isn't a high-end sound, but it comes close, and I suspect it will impress the pants off almost anyone.

Perhaps the most glorious thing is that this roomful of speakers costs under two grand. Considering that Acoustic Energy's Aegis Neo 7.2 system offers a movie performance that'll blow you way, that's an absolute bargain.

Home Cinema Choice Home cinema Acoustic Energy Speaker
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