Originally Posted by Ximori
Hi alphaiii. At same sound level would you consider the Airmotiv 4 to have an overall superior sound with smoother frequency response than the Absolute Zero? I’ve been considering an upgrade to my Audioengine A2 for near-field listening and have these Airmotivs on top of my list. I was also looking into the NHT SuperZero 2.0 + Super 8 sub combo and been wondering how that would compare against the Airmotivs in a small room.
I can't say, since I got rid of the Absolute Zero's a few months ago and have only had the Airmotiv4 for a few weeks. The Absolute Zero measures very flat, although some still feel it sounds a little analytical.
I can say that I did A/B compare the Absolute Zero's with a pair of Boston Acoustics E-40's which took the place of the AZ on my desktop prior to getting the Aimotiv4, and spent a little time comparing the E-40 and Airmotiv4 yesterday.
For the AZ vs. E-40... When I compared them in my main room on stands, I felt they were comparable overall, with each doing some things better, and some worse. I like both, I just felt the E-40 worked a little better on my desktop. With the AZ getting a full-range signal from an Audioengine N22 amp, there was a little too much upper bass emphasis (due to having them sitting on a desk right against the back wall). Awhile back, I used the AZ with a different desktop amp that had a built in 100Hz over, and I really enjoyed them and don't recall noticing the upper bass emphasis I noticed when running them full range on the N22 amp.
As far as the E-40 vs Airmotiv4: The E-40 images/disappears a little better, whereas the Airmotiv4 is a little smoother in the highs, while not being less detailed or rolled off. In fact, I actually run the Airmotiv4 with the treble switch at -2dB since I felt they were a little too lively at 0dB. Bass response isn't even comparable - the Airmotiv4 destroys the E40. A sub is a necessity with the E-40, and with the Absolute Zero as well IMO. With the Airmotiv4, while bass isn't fully extended and lacks the impact you'd get with a sub (no surprise, it's only a 4.5" driver), it's still adequate on it's own, and the overall sound of the Airmotiv4 is very balanced, IMO. Many will still want a sub... but the nice thing is that it can be added and crossed over at a lower frequency, aiding in preventing localization.
I had the SuperZero 2.0 at one point, but really didn't use them much on my desk (briefly, with the Gizmo amp and Klipsch XW-300d sub)... Most of their time was spent in my bedroom system prior to returning them. They're nice enough, but have absolutely no bass at all. The Super8 would remedy that issue, but the setup requires a higher xover point to get a good blend. Not long ago I demo'd the Super8 in my desktop system with the E-40, and I wasn't all that impressed with it, and returned it. I felt the bass was a little soft for lack of a better term - nowhere near as tight as the Klipsch XW300d or Velodyne VMS-8 I previously owned.
OK, that was alot of rambling... Here's the short answer to your question - I like the Absolute Zero nearfield when used with a sub some form of bass management. That said, I prefer the Airmotiv4 as a simpler, standalone option. While they don't have bass extension beyond 55-60Hz, I find them adequate their own, and enjoy the overall sound. I also think the folded ribbon tweeter is a little smoother than the metal domes in the Absolute Zero and E-40. Your mileage may vary.