Aerial Acoustics Model 5 loudspeaker System & Setup
I drove the Aerial 5s with a wide range of amplifiers and source components over the past five months. They saw action with five integrated amplifiers: the Audio Note OTO SE, Linn Majik, Sonic Frontiers Anthem Integrated One, Rotel RA-970BX, and NAD 317. Source components included the Well Tempered Turntable and Lary Pederson-modified Well Tempered Arm, fitted with an AudioQuest AQ7000nsx phono cartridge; all the budget and midpriced CD players I've reviewed recently (particularly the Rotel RCD-990); and that long-term favorite, the Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1. I also had some experience driving the Aerial 5s with the 105Wpc Classé CAP-100 integrated amplifier ($1995). As another point of comparison, I had a pair of Diapason Adamantes II loudspeakers (reviewed by Jack English in Vol.19 No.9). These $3998/pair Italian monitors, now undergoing auditioning for a Follow-Up report, provided an interesting contrast with the Aerials.
Loudspeaker cables were primarily MIT Terminator 2 bi-wire and AudioQuest Forest bi-wire. When using the Audio Note OTO, I used the Audio Note AN/L cable and AN/C interconnects. Other interconnects included AudioQuest Topaz and Jade, and MIT Terminator 2. You'll note that most of my listening was with source components and cables priced appropriately for a system using the Aerial 5s (excepting the Well Tempered Turntable).
The 5s were mounted on their stands 39" from the back wall and 19" from the sidewalls at the short end of my 11' by 15' room. A pair of ASC Tower Stouts were placed in the corners behind the loudspeakers, and a pair of ASC Tower Slims flanked each sidewall to kill the first reflections.
Finally, the loudspeakers were broken-in with two days of out-of-phase pink noise followed by months of playing music.—Robert Harley