Hardware Reviews

Acoustic Energy unleashes Corinium

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeakers

The name Corinium derives from way back in the day, when the Romans were in power and used it for what is now Cirencester,. Apparently it was a significant place at the time, a Londinium of the west according to those in the know. Acoustic Energy have been in and around Cirencester for most of their nigh on 40 years, so it seemed an apt moniker for one of its most ambitious loudspeakers in quite some time. The Corinium loudspeaker has a less obvious Roman connection as well, AE designer and MD Mat Spandl used a classic loudspeaker from the nineties as a reference point when developing this floorstander. The only similarity however is in the boat tail section of the cabinet, a very popular shape today, and the racing green finish is a distinctly British touch.

The Corinium is a clear indicator of where the loudspeaker market is today, it responds to the demand for high quality yet manageable size designs with a serious but not excessive price tag and first class finish. The placement of the drivers is unusual, apparently the midrange and tweeter were put at the top in order to emulate the speed, cohesion and imaging qualities of a two-way standmount, while the bass system is lower down in order for it to deliver sufficient power and extension to energise larger spaces.

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Corinium is a weighty (40kg) but not overly large loudspeaker with a reasonably compact footprint. The mass is the result of the cabinet which is built in variable thickness of what Acoustic Energy call a resonance suppression composite wood. This is 50mm (2 inches) thick in places and 22mm in others, and when combined with the curved sides makes for a very stiff box. This rigidity is enhanced with a 6mm aluminium front baffle, a move that is not unheard of but quite unusual at the Corinium’s price point and enhances the aesthetics as well. Only the tweeter is attached to the metal which give it a degree of isolation from the wooden cabinet and the big drivers attached to it. Outriggers fixed to the base extend the footprint for stability and combine with chunky spikes of different heights to tilt the cabinet back by four degrees.

The bass and midrange drive units have carbon fibre cones similar to those seen in the 500 series that forms the second tier in the AE catalogue, similar in appearance at least but not in practice. The 140mm bass drivers were developed specifically for the Corinium project and are larger than those found in 500. The tweeter is a new soft dome from Japan chosen for its speed and low coloration.

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

The signals sent to these drivers are controlled by a three-way crossover that combines air core inductors, metalized polypropylene film capacitors and metal oxide resistors, with connections to the drivers using a “patented arrangement of [cable] conductors”. The pair supplied for review were in a distinctive metallic racing green finish with a deep lustre that looks pretty swanky, this finish was originally chosen to make these speakers stand out at launch but has been added to the options albeit at a premium over the standard options.

The sound of Corinium

Initial impressions were undermined slightly by incorrect set up, in my space at least they needed to quite a bit closer to the rear walls than expected. When set up correctly the Coriniums have an immediacy and energy that makes music that much more exciting. The combination of speed, power handling and transparency to detail is intoxicating with a good piece of music and really engages the senses in a way that more laid back speakers cannot.

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

The Coriniums have been balanced for typical living rooms, which in the UK at least means solid walls and either wooden or solid floors, such rooms are highly reflective of low frequencies and it’s easy to end up with too much bass in situations where the speakers cannot be placed well into the room. So the Acoustic Energy approach makes sense in a majority of cases, however my room is timber framed and while the walls are as solid as you will get with that construction they do not reflect bass energy in the same as a brick or concrete construction. As a result the Coriniums needed to be fairly close to the wall, no more than 30cm away and even then Spandl got the impression that the bass was 2dB down compared to more conventional situations.

Given that, it’s not surprising that these speakers sounded slightly lean, they delivered some pretty tight, solid bass but weren’t able to deliver the full weight of the lowest notes. As a result the kick drum on Deadmau5’s Seeya was faster and more precise than usual, the guttural sounds on the recording full of detail and texture and the vocal clean and clear. One of the most successful tracks played was Ryan Adams’ Hallelujah live, here the soundstage spread wide and deep, recreating the electric energy of the performance to thrilling effect. You could feel the excitement in the crowd and with a tweak to the volume and a dimming of the lights it was pretty close to being there in the moment.

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

That result was achieved with my regular Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplifier but I also tried the Trilogy 921integrated reviewed recently, this is a little less grippy and more fluent and suited these Acoustic Energy speakers rather nicely. Joni Mitchell’s Sweet Sucker Dance (Mingus) was particularly sublime thanks to a high degree of transparency to detail and excellent timing from amp and speaker. Imaging was strong too with big differences in presentation between tracks from different artists, with some producing a soundstage that sits in front of the speakers, a rare trick in my experience. However it’s the energy that each artist manages to get onto the recording that stands out, guitars can bristle with the stuff when played well and the bass always keeps up with the tempo whilst delivering weight and body. Especially when you drop a dub plate on the turntable and wind up the volume.

The Corinium is clearly not a hard load for amplifiers to drive and control, that high 92dB sensitivity figure is audible in the ease with which less powerful designs keep the timing precise and the bass tight. It might even be an easy enough load to drive with a decent tube amp, a push-pull rather than single ended would be best, but there are a lot of nice examples of that genre and not so many speakers that they are well suited to. This might be why the Trilogy amp worked so well, the company specialises in tube based designs, the 921 isn’t among them but that’s where its ethos comes from.

Acoustic Energy Corinium loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

I had a great time playing all sorts of music from Radiohead to Deep Purple, the former’s The Tourist was majestic and beautifully timed, you can feel the restraint in Johnny Greenwood’s guitar right up to the moment he lets loose. Here the Corinium’s low coloration gives that moment a speed and ferocity that catches you unawares if you’re not paying attention. It’s worth noting that the efforts that Acoustic Energy put into reducing vibration in the cabinet have paid off with greater resolution of fine details such as reverb and echo. Only when the box isn’t joining in do you get to hear the quietest details in a mix, and this box is pretty damn quiet.

Corinium verdict

I got some exhilarating results with these speakers, they consistently managed to dig deep into each piece played and brought out the power, the emotion and the scale of each, so when Shakti (the acoustic Mahavishnu Orchestra) play India it’s hard not to get swept away by the sheer beauty of the sound. By concentrating on building the most inert cabinet that they can and aligning the drivers and crossover with so much attention to detail, Mat Spandl and the team at Acoustic Energy have come up with a winner in the Corinium.


Type: 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker
Crossover frequency: 260Hz, 3.4 kHz
Drive units:
Bass: 2x 140mm carbon fibre cone
Midrange: 120mm carbon fibre cone
Tweeter: 29mm soft dome
Nominal frequency response: 38 – 25,000 Hz (-3dB)
Nominal/minimum impedance: 4 Ohms
Sensitivity: 92dB @ 2.83V/1m
Connectors: single wire binding posts
Dimensions HxWxD: 1100 x 235 x 385mm (including spikes)
Weight: 40kg
Finishes: matte black, matte white, Tectona, British racing green
Warranty: 3 years (5 years with registration)

Price when tested:
British Racing Green £7,000
Manufacturer Details:

Acoustic Energy Loudspeakers
T 01285 654432


floorstanding loudspeakers


Jason Kennedy

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