This is my review of the Acoustic Energy AE309 floor standing speakers, that are very reasonably priced for the sound at near £1,000, depending where you shop and what finish you prefer. The 300 series builds on the Acoustic Energy 100 series, and may well form a bridge to the new (really good looking) 500 series due out in May and previewed at the Bristol HiFi Show earlier this year.
The Acoustic Energy AE309 have two newly design 130mm mid-bass drive units. These feature a new ceramic aluminium sandwich cone with an “ultra-shallow profile and ultra-high force, long throw motor system”. The idea is that the new driver improves dispersion, “extended bass slam and overall power handling”.
Also new is a 25mm aluminium tweeter has been developed for the 300 Series which offers “high power handling and a low fundamental resonance to reduce distortion”. The idea of this innovation is to compliment the woofer and provide a better sweet spot for listening, as I read it.
The slimline cabinet is made from 18mm MDF. I would describe it, physically, as deeper than you would imagine from such a slimline speaker, though I suppose that is necessary. AE describe the MDF as inert, the cabinet design here comes from the AE Reference series and uses their learning from this product.
There is a slot shaped rear port to augment the bass performance, it looks good too, sadly it is at the back. The cabinet base is weighed down to the ground with several kg of inert mass material which adds to the damping from the product and reduces cabinet resonance. Each speakers comes with screw in 8mm spikes to provide the stability required and prevent interaction with the floor.
The finish of the walnut veneer I have is very nice indeed. Aesthetically, it is very good looking speaker, it actually reminds me of my own KEF R Series speakers. Just nice, boxy, classic and very effective.
The speakers come with a full length magnetic soft cloth dust cover that complements the look very well. The Acoustic Energy AE309s come in a piano gloss black, white or satin real walnut wood veneer finish.
Acoustic Energy AE309 – Specifications
Bandwidth: 38Hz -30kHz
Peak SBL: 115dB
Power Handling: 175w
Crossover frequency: 296Hz / 2.56kHz
Design: 2.5 way
Dimensions: 900 x 175 x 280 (HxWxD)
Weight: 22kg (each)
Finishes: Piano Gloss Black, Piano Gloss White and Walnut real wood veneer
At this price what is not to like, a classic looking floor stander in a lovely walnut finish, a very high resolution presentation and an overall good sound?
I am using an updated Bluesound Node with Tidal MQA, Atlas Coax Input to Musical Fidelity DAC, QED XLR balanced output to Rega Osiris Integrated Amplifier (Input 1). QED Supremus loudspeaker cables to the AE 309s. I do note my Musical Fidelity DAC is the weak link here but it is not so terrible.
I have also been using the Rega Planar 8 into the Osiris from my last review, making for a very high resolution output all in all.
Rega Osiris driving
I’ve been mainly using the Osiris since I have it here, it is epic, though possibly slightly over the top for this review. I seem to have ended up with the speakers toed in quite a bit, I’m not quite sure why that is but overall my soundstage is very pleasant in the end, it is deep, and very three dimensional, recording dependent. The Carnegie Hall recordings, referred to below, have a good deal of atmosphere and heckling, coughing etc. and the image presented from these recordings overall is terrific. I listen to these records endlessly.
I feel as if the Acoustic Energy AE 309s are a very vocal pair of speakers, the mid range is exceptionally clear and light. I listen to a fair degree of vocal ‘singer songwriter’ type songs and all of my go-to tracks have sounded really really good, from (yes, you guessed it…) ‘Sylvia Plath’ by Ryan Adams to ‘The Numbers’ from A Moon Shaped Pool (vinyl). The resolution is absolutely excellent with Ryan Adams’ guitar strings sounding particularly soft and resonant from my very favourite Carnegie Hall recordings on vinyl.
I’m also very impressed with the image presentation from these Acoustic Energy AE309s. I am very partial to George Harrison’s (and the Guardians of the Galaxy hijacking of…) ‘My Sweet Lord’ and the 309s do a really good job of transferring the energy and joy of this song to my ears. Rhythmically, the track comes over extraordinarily well.
The bass extension is acceptable with my reference track ‘2049’, from the Blade Runner film coming over tighter than usual with a deal of control, it is not slapped out as I’m used to from my usual set-up with a REL 5i. This particular track is missing the guttural rumble that you might want, in critical listening. However, having said that, in normal listening I’ve not missed much of the lower end, the crescendo of ‘Telegraph Road’ still pounds out energetically from the Planar 8 source wonderfully.
With a slightly brighter feel from these speakers, which I personally prefer, higher end cymbals crash out tightly and come through the open image well.
It was suggested at the outset these speakers need driving to get the best out of them and I have certainly concluded this, even though the Osiris has barely broken into a sweat. Dynamically, the 309s do a fine job with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Tin Pan Alley and ‘Money’, Pink Floyd’s go to dynamic reference track. All I can say it is a good job I can sit and listen to ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ in a sitting, very happily.
Elipson Music Centre to AE309
I felt it may be a good idea to have a listen to the speakers with a better matched amplifier and I happen to have an Elipson Music Centre BT with its Bang & Olufsen ICE Power amplification system which is perfectly reasonable partner for the Acoustic Energy AE309 speakers.
And indeed the 309s perform terrifically and are nicely paced and bouncy with the aforementioned ‘My Sweet Lord’. I plan to review the EMC if I have time soon as it has added Chromecast to the box of tricks since my previous review, here. It is a fine performer here and the 309s are really bouncy, I’m liking their flexibility with every listen.
At this price, £999, what is not to like, a classic looking floor stander in a lovely walnut finish, a very high resolution presentation and an overall good sound? I would heartily recommend giving these a good listen if this is your price bracket.
Compact Sleek Design
Overall bouncy performance
What more do you want?