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Audio Electronics System Speaker

They look like Bose, they sound like Bose, but they're made in Britain and they're a lot cheaper. Paul White investigates.


A new name in loudspeakers, Audio Electronics Ltd, produce a compact, full range system suitable for PA or keyboard applications.

A photograph of the review model, taken when the speakers carried the now-defunct 'Beat' label.

The days when you could reproduce anything from vocals to bass guitar via a box full of general purpose 12" speakers are at an end. Today's discerning audiences have been subjected to a constant stream of well-recorded, (generally) well-played music and have come to expect a high degree of sophistication in sound quality, even when they go out to hear a local band.

In the sixties, even the most successful bands played through appallingly inadequate equipment, but nobody noticed because there was no point of reference: stereo was still for the very rich and most records were played on Dansette portables, themselves only slightly more advanced than the old wind-up jobs.

But back to the present. Virtually everyone now owns or has access to a reasonable domestic hi-fi set-up, while the elaborate sound systems used by top concert bands have raised modern audiences' expectations to a level that is difficult to satisfy.

The invention of the synthesiser has placed still greater demands on loudspeakers, as it's probably true to say that no other instrument is capable of producing sounds that cover such a wide frequency range, meaning that ordinary guitar-type cabinets are totally inadequate for use with electronic keyboards.

What is required is a loudspeaker system that behaves as much like a hi-fi unit as possible whilst at the same time producing the high sound levels required for live performance. To accomplish this in a reasonably-priced, portable package is not easy, but that's what Audio Electronics have attempted with their new range of loudspeakers.

Construction



Measuring about 23" x 21" x 11½", the PA speakers under review incorporate four custom-built, seven-inch drive units and two Motorola piezoelectric tweeters in a ported enclosure. The wooden cabinet is finished (to a very high standard) in a tough but attractive vinyl, and the corners are protected by means of fairly standard plastic corners, the baffle being mounted to give a wide angle of sound dispersion. In accordance with current hi-fi design practice, the inside of the cabinet is filled with long-fibre wool, while the four drive units are protected by steel grilles, acoustically transparent foam being fitted to keep out dust.

This type of loudspeaker performs best when mounted on a stand and, although no fittings are provided as standard, most types of top-hat fittings can be provided and fitted on request. Connection to the cabinet is made via standard quarter-inch jack connectors, though XLRs can be specified at no extra cost to the purchaser.

In Use



These speakers are rated at 160W each and useful bass response extends to below 80 Hz, making them suitable for use as a small PA system or for the reproduction of keyboard instrument signals. The quoted efficiency at 1 kHz is around 96dB for 1 watt at 1 metre, which is very creditable for a small speaker system and means in practice that more of your amplifier power is converted into sound than would be the case with less well-designed units.

We tested these speakers with a variety of synths and even a set of Simmons electronic drums with good results and, although the bass response does not compare with that of a full-blown concert PA system, the sound is by no means tinny or lacking in punch, while the clarity of sound is a great aid to clear diction.

In this respect, the speakers would make first class monitors for vocals or electronic drums when used in conjunction with a large conventional PA system, and an added bonus is that the smooth frequency response reduces the risk of feedback.

In the normal run of things, speaker systems that utilise piezoelectric tweeters tend to sound harsh or scratchy, but when used to reproduce recorded music, the Audio Electronics speakers sounded surprisingly smooth, and should lend themselves readily to disco use, for example.

Conclusions



These speakers have been designed from the ground up and incorporate drivers built by Audio Electronics themselves using high-temperature voice coils, wound onto aluminium formers and bonded with modern high temperature adhesives, and it's this kind of attention to detail that sets a good product apart from the rest of the crowd.

It must be said that these speakers compete directly with the American Bose 802 units and, although the two systems' design philosophies differ in several areas, their general specifications are in fact very similar. The Audio Electronics speakers cost about half the price of a typical Bose set-up and as a bonus do not require any special EQ circuitry, so in economic terms they certainly make sense. Their portability and sound quality should endear these units to a variety of users and their construction is such that life on the road should present few problems.

It's gratifying to be able to say nice things about a British product, and when it's actually cheaper than the imported competition what else can you say?

If you're considering updating your keyboard amplification or perhaps setting up a small PA system, you owe it to yourself to give these excellent little speakers an extensive try out.

The speakers reviewed cost £396.76 per pair inclusive of VAT and carriage, and further information can be obtained from the manufacturers, Audio Electronics Ltd, (Contact Details).



Previous Article in this issue

Zypher Electronics Digi-Atom 4800

Next article in this issue

Cutec MX1210 Mixing Console


Electronics & Music Maker - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

 

Electronics & Music Maker - Sep 1984

Gear in this article:

Monitors/Speakers > Audio Electronics > System Speaker


Gear Tags:

PA Speaker

Review by Paul White

Previous article in this issue:

> Zypher Electronics Digi-Atom...

Next article in this issue:

> Cutec MX1210 Mixing Console


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