Audience ClairAudient 1+1 V2+
As far as many people are concerned, small is beautiful, especially when it comes to loudspeakers. That would seem to explain the continued popularity of the BBC's 40+ year old LS3/5a design. From that era I've long preferred the LS3/6 or Spendor BC1, but then I don't suffer from a phobia about large loudspeakers, though I do appreciate that many others do. I was therefore very impressed by a pair of tiny Audience loudspeakers from the USA, when I visited the High End Cable room at the recent Cranage hi-fi show.
Mindful of a widespread enthusiasm for tiny speakers, I subsequently contacted HEC's Dave Jackson and asked if I could borrow and review a pair. He turned up a few days later with said speakers, known as ClairAudient 1+1 V2+s (at £1995 per pair), plus an even smaller pair known as The ONE V2+ (£969 per pair).
Both these little speakers are based on a tiny full range drive unit, with a cone just 55mm in diameter. (The V2+ added to the names refers to an upgraded drive unit, codenamed A3S2-16.) However, some bass reinforcement is supplied by a 70mm diameter diaphragm ABR (auxiliary bass radiator).
The ClairAudient 1+1 V2+ has two of these tiny full range drivers, mounted front and rear, plus two ABRs mounted on the sides. The smaller pair of speakers are intended primarily for desk-top location are known as The ONE V2+. They have just a single driver on the front and an ABR on the rear, and come with desk stands.
Inevitably perhaps (in view of the small drive units), both speakers tend to sound somewhat forward and bass-light, so they're bound to sound 'different' from normal two-way miniatures.
However, the frequency balance is actually held within +/-5dB (The One V2+) and +/-6dB (1+1 V2+) even though it's far from smooth. Sensitivities registered about 84dB (The One V2+) and 86dB (1+1 V2+), while the impedances are both very benign, giving minima of 16 Ohms and 8 Ohms respectively. All the ABRs were tuned to around 55Hz.
Music material lacks some warmth and weight, but it is available down to 50Hz (helped by the room-coupling), despite being somewhat uneven along the way. There's also a distinct lack of loudness capability, due in part to the low sensitivity, but also the limited power handling of those tiny drivers. Here the 1+1 V2+ clearly has the advantage in power handling and loudness capability, though in fact the One V2+ delivered a slightly better tonal balance overall.
Ultimately, these little loudspeakers are nearly perfect for TV documentary use, as their reproduction across the speech band is truly excellent, and arguably rather better than that achieved by an LS3/5a. Hi-fi music and TV movie reproduction is another matter, however, and although they're certainly capable, I wouldn't put them in the top class.
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