Acoustic Energy Neo Three Floor standing speakers

The Neo range is new from Acoustic Energy, and replaces the successful Evo range. Comprising all-new designs throughout the range, the name comes from the fact that AE have made use of powerful Neodymium magnets for all of the drive units in each speaker, as opposed to just the tweeters, which is more common.

Neodymium has a higher magnetic flux than the ferrite usually used. It also offers better linearity over its operating area, and AE have used this property to design double magnet structures with long voice coils on the 5in (130mm) bass/midrange drivers and claim reduced distortion as a result. The cones of these items are pressed alloy allied to foam surrounds, which are becoming an increasingly rare sight these days. The AEs have a sand chamber too.

The Neo Threes' 1 in (25mm) tweeter is also new and uses a dual ring-radiator design that offers "exceptional off axis frequency response, wide bandwidth and low distortion". Measuring 905x203x242mm (HxWxD) and weighing 14kg, the Neo Threes are available in Black Ash, Light Oak and Walnut veneers.

The Acoustic Energy Neo Threes are an altogether softer proposition than the Mordaunt Shorts. Their treble output is flat up to 20kHz in measurement terms and this comes across in their sound, which is even and well controlled. High frequency detailing was good, but there was a sense that things were lurking further back in the mix than they should be. Norah Jones' vocals had a huskiness to them and cymbals lacked their characteristic metallic ring. In one jazz track I used that features a gently brushed hi hat, the Neo Threes made this something of a blur, rather than distinguishing each individual stroke.

Midrange from the AEs was commendably smooth, offering good body to instruments and vocalists, and serving up a capacious and stable soundstage. Integrating well with the bass, the Neo Threes extracted good levels of detail and finesse from the lower midrange and upper bass, and had a pleasingly weighty low end. Once again, the sturdy cabinet construction paid off to ensure no woodiness or boxy colouration, but the Neo Threes did have a slight tendency to ponderousness with fast bass lines. They never wallowed or actually fell over themselves, but sometimes gave a sense of struggling to keep up with the pace.

Overall, the Neo Threes are composed and enjoyable to listen to, with a smooth and 'safe' presentation. Their only real downfall is that they lack that last ounce of pizzazz that lifts them above their contemporaries.

Acoustic Energy Neo Three Floor standing speakers photo