Aerial Acoustics 10T loudspeaker Page 3

I've heard that song 500 times in the last three years—so why was this the first time I realized that Rodney Crowell was singing backup? Dang! I checked the notes—Rodney co-wrote the song, even. Until I heard it through the Aerials, I was just hearing "generic male harmonies"—suddenly it was one specific voice and personality.

Hmmm. Let's pull out another old friend...ah-ha! Vivaldi recorder concertos by Il Giardino Armonico (Teldec 91852-2). This is early music as death-metal: Vivaldi played at breakneck speed with particular emphasis on dynamic contrast and farfetched modulation. The band has been controversial, but I don't care—I find its Vivaldi thrilling, and those are words I don't normally use in conjunction with one another. The 10Ts lived up to the group's challenge—the music was fast, and it swung hard. Ensemble attacks were rendered with precision, and the band's trademark use of dynamic contrast was particularly well-presented. Giovanni Antonini's recorder sounded sharp and detailed, but not at all shrill. Bazounds! That's-a one spicy CD.

David Murray's Shakill's Warrior (Sony/DIW CK 48963) gets a lot of play when I'm trying to assess a system's dynamic and timbral performance. You see, I've sat 5' in front of David Murray—he is loud, and the sound is intensely physical. Most systems wimp out long before they've reproduced that tenor sax squeal and honk at remotely live levels. Plus, Shakill... boasts the late Don Pullen on Hammond B-3, pulling the drawbars "back to eleven," as JA puts it—especially on "At the Cafe Central," which is, of course, what I always play. (When I played this at HI-FI '95, some of the transients had the room lights dimming, or so Richard Rosen maintains.)

Once again, the 10Ts presented the music with all the life intact. Their deep but well-pitch-differentiated bass thrust the song forward in conjunction with Andrew Cyrille's propulsive thrash. Murray played chorus after chorus, taking the melodic line higher and higher into the instrument's upper registers, until the melody was buoyed aloft on multiple choruses of overblown squeals and honks. Just when you'd think he couldn't sustain the balancing trick any longer, he took it over the top—where Pullen brought it all back to earth with a churning B-3 solo. I've never heard it better.

Reaching high into the air, lofty
Need I say that the Aerial 10Ts impressed the dickens out of me? They're among a handful of speakers that seem to have no limit to their ability to kick the tar out of any dynamic challenge you throw at 'em. They seem to have no overhang or blur caused by their cabinets, so they reproduce low-level detail with exceptional clarity. They can also present performers as though they were in the room with you.

I'm not convinced that the 10Ts present a sense of depth to an exceptional degree, however. Their ability to reproduce low-level detail does delineate the ambience of different acoustics—which I had always assumed was the same thing. Apparently not, as I missed that sense of the soundstage extending well beyond the rear wall of the listening room. It must be noted that I was listening in the extreme nearfield, which probably isn't ideal for that particular illusion. I move to a house with a much more generous listening room in three weeks, and I intend to set up this particular system as a way of exploring the differences between my present room and that one. I'll get back to you.

In any case, the tonal balance of the Aerial lends itself to an exciting, immediate presentation. The speaker doesn't sound sharp, but it does highlight detail in a manner that won't please fans of the "golden-glow" school of hi-fi. Balancing that, its midrange is as uncolored as any I've ever heard, and the integration of lower-midrange to upper bass is seamless and natural.

Comparing it to the Metaphor 2 reviewed elsewhere in this issue, I'd have to chose the Aerial at about $500 less per pair—but I'm made intensely uncomfortable by this sort of comparison. Different systems, different strokes, different priorities make it impossible to put an "all things being equal" quietus to this sort of question. But I don't want to see the last of the Aerial 10Ts—in certain areas (particularly dynamic potential and uncolored immediacy), they're the equal of any speakers I've ever heard. If you're shopping for speakers—even if your budget allows you to examine speakers costing far more—you've got to listen to them.

Aerial Acoustics
P.O. Box 81248
Wellesley Hills, MA 02181
(617) 235-7715