Sitting just below the Reference models in Acoustic Energy’s line-up, its Radiance Series is intended to offer a good proportion of their abilities at a lower price. The Radiance 2 occupies the centre of the three-strong range of stereo designs [a matching subwoofer and centre channel are also available] and utilises three drive units in a two-and-a-half-way configuration.

The two main drivers are 130mm in diameter and consist of a pressed alloy cone with matching conical dust cap, allied to a rubber surround. Voice-coils are wound with aluminium wire for lightness; each driver has its own enclosure with separate port tuning.

The treble is handled by a ring radiator type tweeter, where the dome is anchored both around its edge and in the centre, for better controlled motion and reduced distortion. The tweeter is located in the centre of a newly designed waveguide that Acoustic Energy calls the DXT Lens. This is said to control the unit’s output very precisely to maximise high frequency dispersion, improve off-axis performance and ensure a smooth frequency response. AE also claims that the technology used in the three drive units allows a simple crossover: the circuit has no resistors at all.

The cabinets of the Radiance 2s are impressively solid and surprisingly weighty given the compact dimensions. The rear profile is curved in order to minimise internal standing waves and four outrigger zinc alloy feet bolt securely to the base to increase its footprint and allow easy spike fitment. Sadly, these are not very pretty to look at! Available cabinet finishes are Natural and Dark Ash real wood veneers.

Astounding clarity

The weighty nature of the Radiances’ cabinets proved to be a surprisingly apt analogy for their sound, as these loudspeakers offer a sense of authority, scale and confidence rare at the price.

Although our lab tests suggest bass extension is a little limited – compared to, say, Monitor Audio’s similarly-priced Silver RX8 – we never felt this to be so in practice. The bass was punchy, taut and superbly detailed, gripping the fretless bass from the re-release of Paul Simon’s Graceland [Sony] by the scruff of the neck, and capturing the rhythms perfectly.

Most notable, however, was the astounding clarity and central image stability conferred onto female vocalists. With Nanci Griffith’s Late Night Grande Hotel [MCA 10306] playing, we were immediately brought the impression of her face, large as life, hovering directly between the cabinets! [Miss Griffith’s magnificent voice can be strident and rather uncomfortable through less than sympathetic transducers.] Backing instrumentation was expertly arranged behind the main performers and the treble was an absolute masterclass in clarity, detail and superlative crispness.

Verdict

Everything the Radiance 2 speakers play is an absolute joy to hear. With their superb build quality and impressive weight they show just what a high level of sonic satisfaction can be achieved for a £1,000 outlay.

Originally published in the 2013 Yearbook