Aerial Acoustics 10T loudspeaker
thump thump thump
"Hee, hee, hee!" I cackled maniacally as I listened to Däfos at what I jokingly refer to as a "realistic" volume. The Aerial Acoustics Model 10Ts sounded great—dynamic and uncolored, and seemingly impervious to the most spectacular transients. And detailed? I was hearing stuff I'd never heard on the disc before.
thump thump thump
Like that muffled thumping. I'd listened to this track literally thousands of times and never noticed it before.
thump thump thump
Actually, it was kind of spastic—it didn't really go with anything else on the track. I walked over to my door and placed my hand on it. Sure enough, the sound was coming from outside. I opened the door a crack, only to see my upstairs neighbor—foam on his lips and toothbrush in hand.
"My God, man! Are you all right? Should I call 911?"
"Didn't a car crash into your apartment? At the least, I must have heard a wall collapse!"
"Nah—I'm just listening to my stereo."
"You mean, you do that for fun?" He stalked back upstairs to finish his ablutions.
Well, of course, I thought as I closed the door. I suppose you'd just listen to music or something.
Not that the 10T is exactly a slouch in the music department. Its transient speed, unbelievable power-handling ability, and total lack of cabinet colorations really brought out the kid in me. I found myself playing many a rude noise just because—like the dog in the joke—I could (footnote 1).
Of, in, or caused by the air
While not yet as well-known as some other high-end firms, Aerial has been quietly manufacturing loudspeakers since 1991 (see my interview with founder Michael Kelly). The top of a product line that also contains the Models 5 and 7, the 10T consists of a ported bass cabinet supporting a cast synthetic-stone midrange/tweeter module that can be rotated independently to better focus the mid and upper frequencies at the listening position. (B&W successfully exploited this concept in their 801 loudspeaker.) The head-unit sports a complex faceted shape: A narrow face, to which the drivers are mounted, flares gradually back to a thicker box; all corners are rounded; and there are no joins visible on the seven exposed surfaces (the bottom plate of the head-unit is cast separately, and literally cemented into position).
The midrange/tweeter module is attached to the bass cabinet by way of a hardened steel rod, which threads into the bass module and projects upward about 9" or so. The head-unit slips onto this pivot post and attaches electrically to the bass cabinet via two dual-banana jacks. Once attached, the tweeter/midrange module can rotate freely through an arc of about 270 degrees. The Novalith&3174; material utilized in the 10T's head-unit is about as dense as anything I've ever bruised my knuckles against; only a masochist would repeat the tap test with any part of his or her own hand. The woofer cabinet is pretty darn nonresonant—constructed of MDF in thicknesses varying from 1" to 2"—but it ain't a patch on that head-unit.
The bi-wirable 10T has two pairs of high-quality five-way binding posts at the bottom of the woofer cabinet, and the 2.5"-diameter port fires to the rear. The cabinet has four nylon pad-type feet and comes with hardened-steel spikes. A 6"-tall, sand-filled, spiked stand is available as an option. According to designer Michael Kelly, "In practice, the 10T sounds better with the stand about 90% of the time—especially if the floor is supported by wood beams. Using the stand alters the floor-reflection frequency somewhat, but that's an area where the 10T is quite good musically—and an area most dynamics really have a problem with." I used the stand for all of my auditioning. I also removed both pairs of grillecloths.
Footnote 1: Actually, my favorite variation on that old saw is a Southern version concerning two good ol' boys loafing around on a hot afternoon. Spying a hound-dog meticulously licking its genitals, one turned to the other and exclaimed, "Boy, I sure wish I could do that!"
His friend looked over at the hound and replied, "I reckon you could, but if I was you, I'd pet him first."