I have not been able to attend the CES Show for the last couple of years. This means I haven't been able to hear firsthand what new pieces of gear have come out that I would like to audition for pleasure or possibly review. I have three close friends whose judgment I completely trust regarding all things audio because of their "golden ears" and musical taste. When I questioned my three friends whether there was anything at last year's CES Show that impressed them, they highly praised the Aerial Acoustics 7T. This piqued my interest in hearing the 7T in the context of my system to see what it had to offer. The Aerial Acoustics 7T sells for $9,850 per pair and, after reviewing them, I now consider the 7T a worthy addition to my short list of the finest box enclosure speakers, regardless of price, that I've ever encountered.
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The 7T has a rather small footprint, measuring 44-and-a-half inches tall by nearly 10 inches wide and 15 inches deep. It weighs 96 pounds, so while its footprint may be compact and living room-friendly, its weight lets you know that it's solidly built. Speaking of build quality and the 7T's physical appearance, it's superlative. The pair that was sent for review had a beautiful, high gloss rosenut veneer finish, the quality of which wasn't unlike what you'd expect to find on some of Sonus Faber's higher-end offerings. It is also the first speaker in the next generation of Aerial Acoustics products, which incorporates new innovations both in its drivers and enclosure construction. Michael Kelly, the designer and owner of Aerial Acoustics, shared with me that it took three years to develop the 7T loudspeakers. He extensively tested over twenty midrange drivers to find the one that would give him the clarity and transparency he was looking for in the 7T. The 7T is a three-way, four-driver vented box design. It uses a one-inch soft ring-dome design tweeter with a machined aluminum wave-guide, six-inch special papyrus blend cone midrange with a cast magnesium frame, and two seven-inch rigid bilaminate woofers with a cast magnesium frame.
The cabinet uses a two-inch-thick baffle, which consists of a MDF outer layer with a special asphalt-like compound between it and its front cabinet enclosure. In addition, the cabinet itself is a labor-intense effort to eliminate any resonances that would contaminate the purity of the audio signal. Lastly, the speaker enclosure is composed of nine-layer laminate, curve-stressed MDF walls with seven interlocking full-sized internal braces. As for connection options, the 7T has two sets of high-end five-way binding posts, capable of accepting all types of speaker cable as well as allowing you bi-wire or bi-amp the 7T. All of these factors give the 7T a reported frequency response of 28Hz to 25kHz plus or minus two dB, with negative six dB at 23Hz. The 7T's sensitivity is 89dB for 2.83 volts at one meter on axis. Impedance is four ohms nominal and three ohms minimum.
The 7T was shipped in MDF reinforced double high-quality cardboard boxes. Inside the shipping boxes, the speakers were protected and held in place by ribs of high-density foam. The hardware, which includes two sets of different spikes and discs to project hardwood floors, was packed in its own foam boxes at the bottom of the crate. Finally, each 7T veneer was protected with a very thick velvet tie bag not unlike what you find elsewhere in the loudspeaker community. Although the demos sent were already burned in, I still put about another 70 hours on them before starting the process of placement and toe-in. In my large acoustic space, the 7T locked in sonically by being six feet off the front wall, four feet off the sidewalls and ten-and-a-half feet apart. My listening position was twelve feet back from the 7Ts' front baffles. Experimentation with toe-in showed that having them straight ahead with no toe-in was optimum in my room. They were then spiked and left in this position for the formal auditioning process.
The 7T was powered by my reference system's gear, which consists of an MBL Reference 1621 transport digital front end and a Concert Fidelity DAC-040 into a Concert Fidelity CF-080 tube preamp, driving a pair of Pass Labs XA-60.5 monoblock amps. All the wiring in the system is Stealth Cables, consisting of Indra and Metacarbon single-ended interconnects and a pair of Dream Petite speaker cables. The entire system is powered by Harmonix Studio master power cords and a Running Springs Audio Dmitri power conditioner.
One of my all-time favorite tenor saxophone players is the late, great Johnny Griffin, who I saw perform live at the Chicago Jazz Showcase. His CD, The Kerry Dancers, and other swinging-folk music (XRCD Riverside) have exemplary sonics. "The Londonderry Air," one of my favorite of Griffin's solos, was used as my reference to distinguish timbres, tonality and for its ability to show the saxophone's three-dimensionality. The 7T flawlessly reproduced Griffin's sound as if he were standing right there in front of his rhythm section. Astoundingly, the 7T offered some of the highest levels of transparency and clarity I have ever heard. Effortlessly, it rendered micro-details in a very natural way.
Read more about the performance of the 7T on Page 2.