Acoustic Energy AE2 Signature loudspeaker Review Context
The loudspeakers under test were positioned for the best sound (with only one pair of loudspeakers in the listening room at a time), generally some 3' from the rear wall (which is faced with books and LPs) and approximately 5' from the side walls (which also have bookshelves covering some of their surfaces). Each pair of speakers sat on their dedicated stands, these spiked to the concrete floor beneath the rug/pad, and was driven by the magazine-owned pair of Mark Levinson No.20.6 monoblocks, a Mark Levinson No.333 dual-mono amplifier, or a Cary Audio Design CAD-300SEI integrated amplifier. The preamplifier was the remote-controlled Mark Levinson No.38S, with a Mod Squad Phono Drive EPS used to amplify LP signals from a Linn Sondek/Cirkus/Trampolin/Lingo/Ekos/Arkiv setup sitting on an ArchiDee table.
Digital sources were Mark Levinson No.30.5 HDCD and Parts Connection Assemblage D/A processors driven by a Mark Levinson No.31 transport (all of which I've purchased, for those who keep track of such matters), via Madrigal and Illuminati AES/EBU cables, with occasional use made of an Audio Alchemy DTI•Pro (old model) or a Sonic Frontiers UltraJitterbug.
Interconnects used were AudioQuest's AudioTruth Lapis x3 alternating with XLO 1.1 Signature; speaker cable was a doubled run of AudioTruth Sterling. All source components and preamps used in my listening room were plugged-in to a Power Wedge 116 Mk.II, itself plugged-in to a dedicated AC circuit and fitted with the Power Enhancer option. The amplifiers were plugged-in to a Power Wedge 100, again fitted with the Power Enhancer.
Each pair of speakers was broken-in before auditioning by using the old Tom Norton trick of placing them face-to-face and driving them with out-of-phase, high-level pink noise for 48 hours, followed by the Burn-in Noise track on Stereophile's Test CD 3 for another 24 hours.—John Atkinson