I've never won anything in my life. So imagine my surprise when I was notified via e-mail by Bob Rappaport of Essence Electrostatic that I won a pair of Acoustic Energy AE300 speakers.
Acoustic Energy is a well-known U.K. speaker brand that has been around since 1987. The company has won hundreds of awards within the hi-fi industry, including from trusted publications like Stereophile, for its AE1 speakers (and now AE1 Active).
These speakers are the epitome of "bookshelf speakers" in terms of height, width, and depth (300mm x 175mm x 260mm) - they will fit nicely on any bookshelf, sitting right next to your book collection. The hefty 6.5 kg weight is just Goldilocks: not too heavy, not too light. It feels like a good quality, solidly built product. Knocking the speakers, I heard a beefy thud instead of a wimpy click, a testament to the thick wooden enclosure.
The tweeters are of a 28mm aluminum dome variety and have been developed specially for Acoustic Energy's 300 series, using the company's Wide Dispersion Technology waveguides to better match dispersion to the woofers, with the promise of a wider listening sweet spot. The woofers feature a ceramic aluminum sandwich cone with a shallow profile and powerful long-throw motor system and are aided in their bass response (down to 45Hz!) by a rear-firing slot-shaped reflex port.
These speakers harness power and range beyond their dimensions - they will fit into a snug space yet have the scale to fill a larger room. That versatility runs to the heart of the AE300 and is echoed by their handling of music. I listened to my go-to Charice and Judas Priest discs along with a multitude of songs I produced back when I had recording studios. The latter were played back from various media including the original two-channel .WAV master files, MiniDisc, CD, and DAT. The thunderous and powerful bass filled my large-ish living room with ease, powered using Pioneer Elite SX-S30 class-D integrated amplifier or Marantz MA-500 THX-certified vintage monoblocks. Even listening to movie soundtracks played back in lossless Dolby True-HD using Panasonic's UB820 UHD player in two-channel mode going to my Panasonic 65GZ2000 OLED TV, which further fed to either audio systems using a PCM signal through optical connection, yielded the same, great result. Vocals were always present but not overly so, and although I usually hate aluminum tweeters, I don't mind them at all in this instance. This is perhaps the first time I actually like aluminum tweeters for home use.
At an MSRP of US$750, the price is not cheap. However, the price versus performance ratio of these speakers is amazing value. These speakers are not merely great, they are true audiophile with mid-end speaker pricing.