Following in KEF’s footsteps las spring Quad has unveiled its first active speaker. The 9AS incorporates inputs for digital and analogue sources and has an onboard DAC. It can therefore be used as a standalone system when combined with a computer or more conventional audio sources. Remote control volume and input switching means the bookshelf 9AS is all the audio equipment that many music lovers will need.
Described as being “small enough to sit on a desk or shelf, yet large enough to deliver a powerful and detailed high-resolution sound.” The 9AS has a three-position bass EQ facility that equalises the speaker for the most likely places it might inhabit, these run to free standing, shelf and close-to-wall mounting. Digital connections include asynchronous USB for computers and S/PDIF (optical and coaxial) for CD players etc, all capable of receiving hi-res audio data. These are supplemented by line-level RCA inputs for analogue signals from turntables etc. A side-mounted 3.5mm input is also included for iPods, phones etc. No provision is made for Bluetooth or other wireless connections.
Each 9AS pair comprises a ʻmasterʼ and a ʻslaveʼ, both powered by 100 watt, Class AB amps. The master speaker accepts all inputs and handles volume and input selection, operated via a touch- sensitive panel on the base of the speaker (a remote control is also supplied), while the slave speaker is fed via a line-level output from the master speaker. An output for an external subwoofer is available to augment the bass.
The amplifier is housed in a cast aluminium chassis bonded to the base of the cabinet. This “aids low frequency performance whilst also ensuring efficient heat dissipation.” For digital signals, amplification begins with the same 24-bit/192kHz DAC found in Quadʼs Elite CD players. All signals are passed, via a low-noise electronic volume control, to twin Class AB power amplifiers tailored to the individual drive units in each speaker: a classic Quad mid/bass unit with a 100mm woven Kevlar cone, plus a newly designed 25mm fabric dome tweeter with a waveguide incorporated into its front plate. Each 9AS speaker can be switched in and out of standby via a standard 12V trigger signal. The Quad 9AS cost £599.95 per pair with high-gloss black, high-gloss white or ruby red finishes.