pl | en

LOUDSPEAKERS ⸜ floor-standing

Acoustic Energy

Price (in Poland): 9490 PLN/pair

Contact: Acoustic Energy Loudspeakers
Unit 1, Trull Farm, Trull, Tetbury
GL8 8SQ, Gloucestershire | UK


Provided for test by: VOICE


Translation: Marek Dyba

Images: Wojciech Pacuła

No 213

February 1, 2021

ACOUSTIC ENERGY is an English company specializing in designing of loudspeakers. It was founded by PHIL JONES in West London on April 4th 1987 and was originally called Eldonfield Limited, which was changed to the present name on June 25th of the same year. Its first product was the small AE1 stand mount speakers.

UDIO IS a SPHERE, IN WHICH that which is personal is combined with that which is technical on many levels. It is impossible to separate these two things, despite the most sincere intentions, and sometimes even fanatical enthusiasm of the so-called "objectivists". Experience shows that there is always an emotional element hidden in technology, and technical precision in emotions. This is the case with the ACOUSTIC ENERGY brand and with me.


MY ADVENTURE WITH "HOME" AUDIO, or "hi-fi" as they call it in England, began when I was still working in the theater as an acoustic and sound engineer. There I had at my disposal three-way Altec/Lansing loudspeakers in the control room, used as a near field monitors, and on stage two pairs of horn loudspeakers from this company and a dozen active JBL speakers; even passive (!) stage auditions were based on Altec/Lansing speakers with a characteristic tweeter tube in the middle of a 30 cm paper cone.

If anyone has ever seen the two-meter Altecs in question, equipped with four woofers, and when I add that I could also count on over 20 kW of power on stage and in the audience, including a 50-cm subwoofer under the seats on the ground floor, it should come as a no surprise that at home I wanted a similar sound scale. In a small, 24-meter apartment, divided into two mini-rooms, I placed four (!), stacked by two, one on top of the other, large Tonsil ZG-40C/2 speakers, which took up half the wall.

A wide, 25-cm woofer with an equally large passive diaphragm, in huge enclosures, gave me exactly what I needed. I would like to add that I drove them with the Unitra WS502 amplifier. After some time working as a sound engineer I started reading audiophile magazines, first it was the "Sat-Audio-Video" magazine, today's "Audio. Video" and then "Audio ". At the time, I had no idea that I would be writing for the latter for almost ten years.

There were a few things that disturbed me then in the "narrative" of the magazines in question. One was related to the then entering topic of connecting cables, the other to amplifiers with no tone controls, and the third to mini-speakers, the point of which I could not grasp at all. I had to try each of these "stories" on my own, learning from my mistakes. I started with the speakers.

I read a lot, I tried to listen to as many of them as possible, but only the listening session in the Zena Studio, then on Szeroka Street in Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter in Krakow), helped me make a decision. Then I locked myself with my records in the listening room, where two pairs of loudspeakers were placed: CASTLE CLIFTON and ACOUSTIC ENERGY AE1. I left the store with the Cliftons, although I have to admit that the AE1s seemed to be a better design. So why didn’t I pick them? - One may ask. I just wanted something different at home than what I listened to in the control room, and the Acoustic Energy loudspeakers sounded just like that, that is precisely, dynamically, they also had an open treble.


THE FACT THAT THE AE1 SOUNDED THE WAY THEY DID was influenced by the reason for their development - Phil Jones, the founder of the company, but also a musician, designed them just for himself, for his home recording studio as a near-field loudspeakers; 'Near field', i.e. to be auditioned at a distance of 1 to 1.5 meters. Thanks to them, the company achieved great success and these loudspeakers, in subsequent versions, were present in its lineup for many years.

The most important distinguishing feature of the AE1 were metal diaphragms of the mid-woofer, a rarity at the time. Today it is the norm, thanks to techniques that minimize the impact of sharp resonance on the sound, which had to be cut out with aggressive crossovers, and which was to some extent audible anyway. The tested AE320 model uses a complex, multi-element crossover with as many as five polypropylene and two electrolytic capacitors, and with five (!) coils.

Another way to fight it was to assemble from a metal core a kind of "sandwich" with other materials. In the AE320 floor-standers, which we are testing this time, it is an aluminum-ceramic "sandwich". The most famous manufacturer that has been developing this technique for years is another British company, MONITOR AUDIO.

The AE320 speakers we test are the newest addition to the "300" series, the mid-range of this manufacturer. It consists of four models of speakers - one bookshelf, two floor-standing speakers, a center speaker, and a subwoofer. You can see that the idea was to build both stereo and home theater systems on its basis. They are based on the mentioned drivers with a "sandwich" diaphragm and an aluminum tweeter.

But let's start from the beginning. The tested loudspeakers are quite tall, narrow and surprisingly heavy floor-standing designs. Weighing 26 kg (each), they measure 1000 x 175 x 320 mm and are finished with natural veneer or varnish - black or white. They use four drivers in a three-way arrangement.

There are two woofers, each with a diameter of 130 mm, a similar looking midrange driver and a 28 mm dome tweeter. It is embedded in a wave-guide to help control its directivity. This solution is called Wide Dispersion Technology and it is intended, among other things, to broaden the field of proper stereo listening. Although it is a classic solution, used by many manufacturers, each of them names it in their own way. Lets add that the bass and midrange drivers were developed just for the "300" series.

The midrange driver reproduces an exceptionally wide band, from 380 Hz up to 3.4 kHz, and it is from there that we get most of the information. It was closed in a separate chamber with a tweeter dome, and the chamber was dampened. All speakers have embossed metal baskets and large magnets with smaller ones attached to them. While all three look identical from the outside, they are not. The woofers have a longer voice coil, longer diaphragm throw and a different impedance. However, all of them feature a foam suspension, not a rubber one - once the norm, today a rarity.

There is a bass-reflex port on the back and it has the form of a slot. The manufacturer writes about it as follows:

The slot shaped duct port on the rear of the speaker augments the bass output and has been carefully developed to reduce the effect of air turbulence with a clean undistorted bass performance.

300 Series,; accessed: 13.12.2021.

Below you can see single, gold-plated - although small - speaker terminals. The cabinet is made of 18 mm MDF boards and stiffened inside in a way invented for the flagship "500" series. As the manufacturer declares, this is to "reduce coloration" and allow the speakers "trouble-free breathing" throughout the listening room. Its interior is dampened with cubic foam blocks.

The loudspeakers are heavy not only due to the dense ribbing, but also thanks to the loading of AE320 with additional mass - the outlet of the chamber into which inert mass material has been poured. What kind of material? - The manufacturer does not mention it, although it used to be lead and then sand. I have not seen such a solution in any mainstream loudspeakers for a long time, because it requires additional treatments, and this increases the costs for the manufacturer.

The loudspeakers stand on silver, 8 mm spikes with attached small spacers. However, it is worth reaching for large, specialized washers - I used the SPU-8 Acoustic Revive. The manufacturer sums up his description like this:

The result of this latest drive unit technology and enclosure design is a slim-line, powerful floor-standing loudspeaker for the discerning listener when refined audio quality coupled with elegant aesthetics are paramount.

⸜ ibidem.

AE320 is available in one of three types of finishes: lacquered in black or white in high gloss or in natural American walnut veneer. The varnished versions are a bit cheaper, you have to pay PLN 8,990 for them, and PLN 9,490 for the veneered version. The loudspeakers come with thin, magnetically mounted grilles covering their entire front.


⸤ HOW WE LISTENED The Acoustic Energy AE320 loudspeakers were placed where most of the loudspeakers in my room sound best, that is at a distance of 212 cm from each other and 230 cm from the listening position, counting from their inner edges. They were 85 cm from the the wall behind them, and less than 50 cm to the bookshelves behind them. As the front baffle of the AE320 is narrow and the loudspeakers are deep, it is worth experimenting with a toe-in. During the test, their axes crossed some 50 cm in front of me.

I determined the distances between the speakers and their leveling using the Bosch PLR 50 C device. More about speakers setup you will find in the Micro-tuning. Or set up of the speakers (HIGH FIDELITY № 177, January 1, 2019,, accessed: 28/10/2021).

The AE320 were driven by the Soulution 710 power amplifier through Siltech Triple Crown cables. Although I listened to SACDs and CDs during the test, during the main auditions I used files played on the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge device.

Recordings used in the test | a selection

⸜ WES MONTGOMERY & WYNTON KELLY TRIO, Smokin’ At The Half Note, Verve/Tidal Master, FLAC MQA 24/192 (1965/2016).
⸜ SHILLER, Epic, Sony Music Entertainment/Tidal Master, FLAC MQA Studio 24/96 (2021).
⸜ JUSTUS RÜMENAPP, Melody of Hope, Universal/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2021).
⸜ METALLICA, Metallica, Electra/Warner Brothers Records, FLAC 24/96 (2006).
⸜ ROGER TAYLOR, Outsider, EMI/Tidal Master, MQA FLAC 24/96 (2021)
⸜ BILLIE HOLIDAY, Body and Soul, PolyGram/Tidal Master, FLAC MQA 24/192 (1957/?)
⸜ BLUSZCZ, Kresz, Seszele/Tidal, FLAC 16/44,1 (2021).


THE THING THAT HIT ME from the first sounds of the Smokin 'At The Half Note by WES MONTGOMERY & WYNTON KELLY TRIO album and which I must share with you right away is the perfect tonal balance of these loudspeakers. For a moment, when the leader's guitar sounded, I thought that I heard a beautifully saturated, dense and full, but still lonely midrange. I was wrong, but it was a "meaningful" mistake.

The thing is that these large-sized speakers with two woofers and a bass-reflex system, and therefore predisposed to play with a large, fleshy sound, used these advantages not to enlarge the presentation and "play with bass", but to give the music depth, both in terms of the sound stage and individual sounds. And perhaps the latter is even more important in this case. The AE320 created perfectly stable sources, which were also three-dimensional and with a great tonal differentiation.

You remember what I wrote about the AE1 and their studio pedigree, right? Since then, a lot has changed in audio, also in studios, but most of all in the way leading designers think about sound and what is important in it and what is less so. And still the timbre is important, speed is important and filling/richness are important - all this is achieved thanks to resolution, not details.

Speaking of timbre, I do not even mean tonal balance, because we are evolutionarily quite tolerant in this matter, and the compatibility of the basic sound with its harmonics - this is how the richness of timbre is created. And the tested loudspeakers show this richness perfectly. Although they do not look like the work of "God's madman", who in his basement improved and improved his opus magnum, because they are a good example of a mass production, yet this is what they sound like - in a well-thought-out and complete way .

I told you the AE320's don’t overwhelm with a mass of the sound. It is true and not true at the same time. They don't knock you down when they shouldn't, that is with Paul Chambers' double bass or Wes Montgomery's guitar. However, listen to the music from the new album of SHILLER, a German performer of electronic music. Epic is an album inspired by film music, so sometimes pompous, sometimes intimate, and above all - recorded on a grand scale.

The British loudspeakers, right after the entry of the bass in the song Do You See The Light?, opened a wide and deep window for me, and most of all they gave me this power, they went deep with the bass and gave the whole momentum, which I assume the artist wanted. I also found it interesting that although their sound can be described as open, the treble is in a nice balance with the rest of the frequency range. They don't pretend to exist separately. This was the case with Jimmy Cobb's drums on the album recorded at the Half Note club, as was the case with Shiller’s electronics.

JUSTUS RÜMENAPP on his latest album Melody of Hope sounds very similar - I mean in terms of timbre - to HANIA RANI's recordings. His small Blüthner grand piano (or a piano, I'm not sure, though I'd bet on the latter), which sounds like a piano, was recorded with a quite clearly operated pedal mechanism. The treble has been muffled by something, so perhaps it is the sound of a prepared piano, in which it resembles other “home” recordings from the pandemic times. Difficult thing to recreate, but not for the AE320.

The loudspeakers showed the sustain of the sound very nicely, but alsodid not close it in the midrange. The decay is long here, because the reverberation is long, and in addition it is based mainly on the treble. The instrument had both intimacy, resulting from the close positioning of the microphones, and the breath given to it by the effect superimposed on it.


⸜ Blüthner piano Model 6 • photo Blüthner, press release

BLÜTHNER IS A GERMAN BRAND, a manufacturer of grand pianos and upright pianos, based in Leipzig. Established in 1853 with a focus on the longevity of its products, it proposed another type of hammers. During the Second World War, the production plant was bombed and in 1972 the company was nationalized. Fortunately, it remained under the management of the Blüthner family and was the largest piano company in Europe. After the complete liberation of Eastern Europe, the company became the property of the Blüthner family again.

Blüthner sound boards are made of spruce wood, sourced from the Alps. The trees are carefully cut and stored for 10 years. After long aging, the raw material is cut into quarter pieces, and then the best boards are selected from which the pianos or grand pianos are made.

The Blüthner pianos and grand pianos, although less known than their rivals, are considered to be wonderful instruments with extremely light sonic characteristics, the sound of which is rich and shiny. They are also famous for their transparency and warm, rich sound. As CHRISTIAN BLÜTHNER, the company's managing director says about them, "they create a dark, chocolate-colored sound with a shiny top" (source:; accessed on December 14, 2021).

It was used by great composers such as Mahler, Ravel or Debussy, the Beatles recorded their hit Let It Be with it, and one of the instruments even made a guest appearance in the movie Iron Man - do you remember the scene where the ceiling falls on the piano? - It has just fallen on an instrument of the Blüthner family. Fortunately, the instrument itself was not damaged, it was its model that was crushed.

AE320 ARE SPEAKERS that differentiate not only the timbre, but also the perspective. When Montgomery's guitar played, it almost "popped out" from the left speaker because it sounded as if its amplifier was standing where the speaker itself was. On the other hand, the sounds from the Shiller album were shown behind the line connecting the loudspeakers, because they need a greater perspective to open up, which the British loudspeakers did without a trace of hesitation or compression.

And when I played again the title track from the BILLIE HOLIDAY’s album, the Body and Soul I got the vocal close to me, at my fingertips, and the accompanying instruments far behind it, in very good proportions to each other - even the trumpet, which usually " pops out ”from the mix. Here it had a perfect inner harmony. There was no exaggeration, however, neither the "presence" of the vocals, or distance from the instruments.


THE TESTED ACOUSTIC ENERGY speakers are perfectly designed and well-made. Their sound is actually warm, but also open. The most important thing in them is the midrange, and they can also perfectly reflect the power of orchestral arrangements. They also showed the intimacy of the BLUSZCZ duo incredibly well.

The producer of the Kresz album, Jarek Zagrodny, and mastering engineer Bartosz Szczęsny managed to combine the camp aesthetics of the 80s and 90s, including the strong influences of The Cure, but also Papa Dance resonating somewhere, with melancholy shown in the quite far away placed voice of Zagrodny, which does not fit into the canon, which is why it does not always sound clearly. The tested speakers showed the efforts of the producer just great. Changes in reverbs, timbres, it all made sense and seemed logical.

These are excellent speakers – ˻ RED Fingerprint ˺ is a must (and my pleasure) in this case.

Technical specifications (acc. to the manufacturer)

Frequency range: 35 Hz-30 kHz
Sensitivity: 90 dB
Peak SPL: 116 dB
Power handling: 200 W
Crossover frequency: 380 Hz / 3.4 kHz
Nominal impedance: 8Ω
Dimensions (W x H x F): 1000 x 175 x 320 mm
Weight: 26 kg/pc.
Finishes: Piano Gloss White, Piano Gloss Black, Real Walnut wood veneer


Reference system 2021

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC