The Aerial Acoustics 6T loudspeaker demonstrates and defends truth and accuracy while offering a close replica of concert hall sound in your listening room
Aerial Acoustics was, in part founded in 1991 By designer Michael Kelly, from Boston Massachusetts. Prior to founding Aerial Acoustics Mike was the executive vice president of Analog and Digital Systems in charge of design and engineering.
Aerial Acoustics’ most prestigious loudspeakers to date have been the now discontinued 20T V2, which was considered their ultimate top of the line model, and the 10T, Aerial’s first original speaker. The 7T is the direct replacement for the 10T and as Mike explains, “out performs it in every way and is currently considered the company’s top of the line and best-known speaker”. The 6T, which is the subject of this review, is a slightly downsized version of this highly acclaimed model.
I have never had the opportunity of hearing the slightly larger 7T, but I can say this with uncontested certainty: Mike Kelly candidly knows, understands and most importantly, remembers the reproduction of live sound in a well-designed concert hall setting as the audio reproduction of ‘The Aerial Acoustics 6t loudspeaker’ proves beyond any reasonable doubt!
THE 6T and 7T DESIGN AND DIFFERENCES
There are a few primary differences between the Aerial Acoustics 6 and 7t models. Both speakers use the same custom-made twin magnet Danish Scan-Speak ring dome tweeter which is slightly modified to Aerial Acoustic specifications. This tweeter has a full-grown pedigree and is well known for delicate, extended and an airy upper mid- treble response without any added artificial edge or harshness. Most importantly, the Scan-speak is one of the most subjectively “discriminating” high frequency drivers currently available.
The Aerial 6T loudspeaker is a 4-driver, 3-way vented (port) box system. The (2) 6t bass/midrange drivers are 150mm in size with cast magnesium frames. These drivers are made from a special papyrus blend cone, with copper pole sleeves. I have found that paper and plastic cones typically produce the tonal qualities that I prefer, and that the BBC inspired brands (all commonly regarded as having outstanding midrange qualities) use either some form of plastic or paper composite for their midrange drivers.
The port in the 6T is located on the lower back of the loudspeaker enclosure which sits above two pairs of high-quality binding posts for either bi-wiring or bi-amping. Networks are custom made for both the 7t and 6t but each do share the same general 24 dB per octave acoustic slopes. All the network components are of the highest quality as is the internal wiring, some of which is Teflon insulated.
Both speakers use the same general cabinet design with thick, stresses, laminated, curved walls and extensive internal bracing. The 6-layer laminated, curved, stressed MDF wall has three full-size braces along with a two-layer curved, damped baffle. The finished cabinet veneers are stunningly beautiful as well. The end result is a very inert and rigid construction offering a net effect of deep cabinet silence.
The Aerial 6T speakers state a high 90 dB sensitivity with an average nominal impedance of 4 ohms and a frequency response of – 6 dB at 30 Hz. The speakers will emit a good, relatively high spl with an amplifier of 25 watts minimum. However, (and quite delightfully), my listening tests showed this loudspeaker will ‘bloom’ and work exceptionally well with amplifiers putting out up to 300 watts per channel and can generate exceedingly loud sound levels if need be.
To further summarize the 6T vs the larger 7T, I will paraphrase Mr. Kelly: “The primary difference is that the 7T has deeper bass extension and moves more air for more impact and to pressurize larger rooms. I would say the 6T has amazing bass performance for its size”. Mike also emphasizes that the narrower baffle on the 6t will ultimately provide the speaker with a more specific and highly localized stereo image.
This is a huge part, I might add, of one aspect of a high-performance loudspeaker’s sound reproduction design parameters that has motivated much discussion between enthusiasts– particularly as to how important this area of audible and musical enjoyment it is to each individual person. I will acknowledge personally, that if a given loudspeaker cannot give me spot on stereo image proficiency, I cannot take the design seriously. Others may strongly disagree.
Thankfully, the Aerial Acoustics 6T is blessed, in part, with some of the highest standards of stereo reproduction I’ve heard– and here it takes no prisoners. If the source material is badly multi-miked or inconsistent with the most profound stereo microphone engineering placement set ups, The Aerial 6T will let you notice it without any hankering around. This was distinctly observed and compared with other test and/or reference loudspeakers that were on hand.
As with any well designed, high definition loudspeaker system, set up requirements are paramount to establishing the ultimate subjective reproduction standards that will bring a given loudspeaker to its ultimate fruition.
Admittedly, it took me about 4 or 5 days of small incremental changes in positioning the Aerials in order to establish the 6T’s ideal placement standards in my room; its dimensions being 24 x 14 x 8 and quite decently treated as to its acoustic properties.
In the final days, the ultimate position came to 4.5 feet from the front wall to the speaker baffle, 3.5 feet from both side walls and approximately 8.3 feet apart. The speakers were deemed to give the BEST stereo image and holographic effect when angled in at about 23° towards my listening seat which was 12 feet from the loudspeakers. There were about 12 feet of room behind me towards the back wall of my room.
LISTENING TO THE AERIAL 6T
I’ll start off by saying that if you enjoy listening to well recorded accurately miked, classical, acoustical and operatic music, the Aerial Acoustics 6T is unabashedly, a joy to behold. The Aerial 6T offers an aurally seamless, blended integration between the drivers with astonishingly low distortion and an exceptionally smooth response; thereby granting the listener desirably low listening fatigue. You cannot hear the crossovers working in the Aerial 6t in any way whatsoever.
While the speaker excelled in reproducing intrinsically well recorded classical program material, it was totally authoritative in its evenhanded performance with many different kinds of music programs and recording methods that were used. Rhythm, timing, and bass response were very good on nearly all the material tried, placing the speaker well ahead of the industry average.
The greatest virtue of the Aerial 6t was the way it became acoustically unobtrusive, open and alluringly natural sounding, allowing the loudspeakers to virtually disappear from the sound stage. It has a rare ability to faithfully reproduce acoustical instruments and its harmonics in their purest forms. Its dynamic and transient qualities were never caught out even at low volume levels– being quite exemplary, indeed. The 6T’s wide lateral width and airy, beautiful mid/treble balance were superbly delineated and I must state that large orchestral recordings were reproduced with profound elements of audible reality!
Again—and quite particularly, the treble range of the Scan-speak driver was close to ‘ideal’ in its natural, smooth and unrestrained sound quality. The Aerial 6T was able to throw out deep stereo images on a grand scale along with close to perfect instrumental placement in the orchestral setting, while that familiar “hole in the middle” was never brought into play. With big concert works and piano concertos, first violins were lucidly placed, left of center, while second violins were precisely situated deep, and way back to the left of the loudspeaker itself.
MIDRANGE, BASS, and TIMBRE
This loudspeaker proved to have an extraordinarily transparent, open and natural mid/treble balance along with a taut, satisfying bass response that was able to reach down surprisingly deep for a speaker of its size. The 6T’s unrestrained dynamics, subtle midrange delicacy, and nuance were always loyal to the source material.
The speaker extolled a scrupulous reproduction of ambience, resolution and when properly placed, the Aerials excellent stereo stage gravitated between, way behind and to the sides of the loudspeaker enclosures quite formidably.
Unlike many loudspeakers, some of which demand a much higher price than the 6T, they were exceptionally able to exploit the ‘natural’ timbres of acoustical instruments, while voices, both operatic and popular, exhibited an extremely smooth, meticulous and precious character. That seamless upper mid-treble range permitted vocals to exude superb delicacy and fast decay times in analog and digital recordings as well as some live broadcasts (Mitsuko Uchida) that were not maliciously maligned in their engineering process. Most of the above virtues were ardently exposed with a few of these digital recordings and cd-r ripped “live” broadcasts that were engaged:
Beethoven Symphony 5 / Kurt Masur/ NY Philharmonic ● Beethoven Sonatas – Alfred Brendel/ Pathetique / Moonlight ● Barenboim/ Mozart piano concertos 20/24 / remastered ~ English Chamber Orchestra . Other pop, folk program material that showed brilliantly with the 6T included albums by Linda Ronstadt and Frank Sinatra.
The Aerial Acoustics 6T design provided a demonstrative “mid-hall “seating perspective accompanied by a touch of reticence in the upper mid which imparted marvelous perspective and ease, but also mildly softened piano dynamics. Otherwise, percussive instruments as such exhibited a “fast” attack without shrillness or hardness.
It must, however, be emphasized that the upper mid reticence greatly varied depending on the recording and microphone techniques used in the foregoing process. One should also take into account the unadulterated “smoothness” of the loudspeakers’ mid/treble balance transition as well.
On the contrary, just before finishing this review, I was listening to both the analogue vinyl recording as well as the above-mentioned remastered CD download of Barenboim’s Mozart Concerto. Here, the 6T was remarkably accurate in its reproduction of each hit of the studio Steinway. Both the original vinyl LP and CD performances of this simply miked, EMI recording (1969) displayed a notably high quality of dynamics and resolution and was expertly reproduced by the Aerial 6T loudspeaker.
The Aerial Acoustics 6T was able to generate powerful, tuneful and believably accurate stereo sound images. Despite being a reasonably compact floor stander, they are quite heavy at approximately 70 pounds each while its build is virtually flawless in fit and finish. The speaker has an excellent bass response and extension relative to its size that would satisfy the needs of most enthusiasts.
One must not forget the 6T’s midrange and treble characteristics. It is strikingly neutral and well-integrated with a sweet, detailed and naturally airy, high frequency response. Rather more powerful than its modest proportions might indicate, this fine design delivers a convincingly innate musical character while providing a facsimile of great ‘concert hall’ acoustics when the program sources provide as such. While its larger brother has generally received much of the pundit’s attention, I would venture to say that the Aerial Acoustics 6T quite simply hits the audio excellence level for its sheer all round ability and reliably fine price point!
Review System ~~ Rega Planar 6 Turntable/RB300 arm / Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge ● Audio Note (UK) CD 3.1 x/II player/DAC / Wyred4Sound 10th Anniversary DAC/ Peachtree Audio Nova 300 2019 (preamp/DAC) ● PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell 300 power amp/phono preamp ● Loudspeakers •Audio Note (UK) An-E/D / Spendor BC1/ Quad ESL 63 USA. Cables Conditioners: Inakustik AC-3500p, LS-4004 speaker cables, AC-2404 reference Air Power Cord/ Wireworld Eclipse 8 interconnects/speaker cables & Electra 7 power cords/ -Audio Art IC3 e – 75ohm digital COAX & power 1 e” AC cord / Wireworld Gold Starlight 8 – 75-ohm digital coax /
Aerial Acoustics Model 6T floorstanding Loudspeakers ~ . $6,795 per pair in either finish.
Aerial Acoustics 100 Research Drive Wilmington, MA 01887 T978-988-1600 Email ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
WHERE the AUDIOPHILE BEAT MEETS THE MUSICAL ELITE! !
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