When I got a call from John McDonald there was no mistaking his excitement over his new baby loudspeaker. My first thought was I can’t wait to hear these little speakers, my second thought was I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone so excited about their least expensive product. John calls this tiny speaker “The ONE” and I think after hearing him talk about it, the name reflects more than the fact that it is a single driver speaker; it may also have to do with his long search for the perfect little speaker and he feels that this is “The ONE!” According to John “it is the culmination of a long-held ambition: To design a compact speaker that tells the musical truth.” My sense is that John feels he has achieved a long sought after ideal; a very small speaker system that gives the listener a real musical experience.
The ONE is the smallest and newest speaker in the Audience line of ClairAudient loudspeaker systems. It uses the same 3-inch A3S driver that is exclusive to Audience and used in all their speakers. The driver’s cone is made from a titanium alloy that provides strength and rigidity. The cone has a total moving mass of only 2.5 grams, and employs an oversized magnet/motor structure; according to Audience, these assure response times that easily rival electrostatic panels. They use high quality parts including low-mass binding posts and Audience Ohno monocrystal Auric internal wiring.
In addition to the front firing A3S driver, the Audience ONE also incorporates a purpose-designed passive radiator with 12mm of excursion. The design goal was for a single ultra-low distortion transducer that would eliminate the issues with phase distortion, transient response degradation, that multi-driver speakers have.
Because of its size and cuteness it’s hard to take The ONE very serious, but then for its price-to-size ratio, you have to. I used the speakers in three systems. First and mostly, I used it in my digital/video system being driven by the Electrocompaniet PI 2D integrated amp. In that system I used it by itself for music and with a sub for movies. I also used it as a desk top speaker with my computer, driven by a Peachtree Audio Decco amp. Last, just for the heck of it I put it on stands and tried them in the reference system downstairs with over $75,000 worth of electronics, turntable, and cabling.
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