I would like to share my thoughts on a speaker that doesn’t get a lot of attention: Aerial SR3. I have been a fan of multi-directional surrounds for many years. As I upgraded to Aerials across the front (Model 9, CC3B), the SR3 has always been on my wishlist. However, the price of them has kept them out of reach. I finally found two pairs on the used market last April and it’s likely that I will never have to upgrade my surrounds again. I didn’t post right away because I didn’t want to come across as a fanboy gushing over a new toy. I wanted to live with them for a while to get an accurate feel for them.
Like any Aerial, the SR3 build quality is superb. It tips the scale at 31lbs each, so you had better find some studs to drill into. Even the grills are impressive. It’s a 1/2” MDF cage with thick felt on contact areas to the enclosure. It has 5 drivers, and easy access to dial on the bottom for bipole/dipole mode, treble level, and rear output level to fine tune radiating pattern. Since I have a rectangular room and symmetrical placement, I just leave it in bipole mode and neutral environment. I use REW to manually eq all channels.
In all my years, I have not had all 5 or 7 speakers of the same brand at any one time. While I still won’t discourage anyone from getting surrounds of a different make than the fronts, this quartet of SR3’s is a better match to my front stage than the 2 pairs of Totem Lynx I had before. The Lynx sounds dark while the SR3 sounds more lively and has air. Maybe that’s why it matches better with the Model 9’s up front. I haven’t done any high level testing to push them. I’m just amazed by how well it reproduces low-level detail. It’s as if there air, space, atmosphere that just blends with the front. I can’t imagine what 7 Model 9’s in a circle would be like!
I have also never calibrated my surrounds to the same volume as the fronts. I found them too distracting, especially monopoles. Even the bipoles I kept -2dB, to keep them in the background. Because the SR3’s blends so well, I calibrate all channels to the same level now. So they are louder and they disappear better. Go figure.
Prior to buying them, I wondered if a design that is about a decade old would still hold up. Mainstream brands make changes every year or two, presumably for the better. Aerial upgrades at a glacial pace. But maybe that’s because Kelly believes when you do something, you do it right the first time.