AER Pisces V2.0 Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-03-2004, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I got a pair and was surprised. The Chinese products are coming and the tariffs will not stop them.


AER Pisces V2.0 Speakers
I received the AER Pisces V2.0 in good condition from the USA distributor. I also purchased the matching stands, which I believe are critical for getting the best performance from any small monitor speaker. The manufacturer’s representative I dealt with was very professional. He was knowledgeable about the product and helpful answering technical questions before and after the sale. Other aspiring Chinese audio distributors looking to get a hold of the American market have not been as knowledgeable or helpful.

PACKING
Packaging was at a high standard for both the Chinese made speakers and stands and similar to American and Canadian audio in this price range. The Cayin amp and other products I have bought from China can be over packaged with very heavy boxes and cosmetic “extrasâ€. For example: The Cayin Tube amp came with a pair of white gloves. This makes the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me nervous when I see this. I wonder if they are trying to cover up for (engineering) deficiencies after the product has been released for manufacturing.


BUILD QUALITY, FIT AND FINISH
Yes, the cabinets are real wood and incredibly well finished. I had Theil 2.2’s with the Amberwood finish that were not as nice. The JM Labs speakers I now own have red cherry but are not nearly as nice with many flaws in the fit and the wood. One JM Labs speaker has stained putty covering a knothole. If you haven’t gone furniture shopping for a few years check out the fantastic quality of Chinese furniture (while you can before the proposed tariffs hit) for very little money.

The crossover component quality was standard for this category. The binding posts are gold plated metal and mounted on a mass produced plastic backplate that also holds the crossover board. It is cost efficient to manufacture and easy to remove for repair or modification.

Crossover components are rather pedestrian with a wire coil and the crossover components mounted on the breadboard. I would rather see the crossover board mounted more securely screwed to the inside of the cabinet. The wiring connecting the tweeter and kevlar woofer/midrange driver to the crossover would not make an audiophile happy. It is very thin gauge (looks like CAT 5 strands for the tweeter) and could benefit from an upgrade. Some audiophiles think it is reprehensible to have a manufacturer connect your precious tweeters with anything less than silver wire with Teflon dielectric, but perhaps the design team knows something we don’t (i.e. that adequate vs. high quality wire in short lengths will not audibly alter the sound). I had a pair of Legacy Classic (real) rosewood speakers that were $2800 and they used telephone hook up wire to connect their much-heralded tweeters.

For those who think speaker wire makes a difference as I do, check out the Absolute Sound’s 2-part speaker wire comparison. They claim a Home Depot 14-gauge extension cord used as speaker wire sounds very close to the10 other audiophile “name brands†tested costing up to $900 per 8 foot pair. I tried it and agree it is similar to my Monster 2.4 biwire, which was a staple on the Stereophile recommended components list for years. Very courageous of the Absolute Sound to publish such a review when you look at all the cable manufacturer ads.

Baffling was of the common white “insulation†type. The cabinets were thick enough so that the lack of cross bracing was not as detrimental as it would be with a larger box. The cabinets were not as acoustically inert as I would have liked when I knocked on them with the bare-knuckle test. I lined them inside with blu-tac which helped.

The Kevlar mid/woofer looks similar to the driver on other speakers listed on the oem site. This is stamped; not a die cast basket, with butyl surround and a phase plug similar to the B&W driver. The magnet is average for a speaker of this price. As mounted in the cabinet, the driver looks very high tech and fit for a high-end speaker.

The tweeter looks similar to the units on another china competitor, the SWAN 2.1 monitors, that is listed as a silk dome unit. It is mounted securely with a screen for protection. The unit does not have the metal housing and exposed heat sinking of the Nautilus line of tweeters. However it is freestanding and subjectively exhibits very wide dispersion. Inherent in this design is a driver that does not suffer as much from reflections as a one recessed in the cabinet. This lends to a more open sound with better depth of field.

The stands had a nice powder coat silver finish and assembled perfectly. By comparison, a few years ago speaker stands even at a much higher price point where painted which were easily scratched. I would have preferred carpet piercing spikes rather than chrome cones. They looked better than many $200 plus stands I have had. One sad note: These stands ring like a bell and need sand or lead shot to deaden them for best sound.

Is this a poor man’s B&W 805 you ask?



SOUND

I have had both the B&W Matrix and Nautilus 805’s before I went to the JM Labs 820’s. I remember the matching stands alone for the Nautilus 805’s were almost $700 as recommended by Stereophile (thanks guys,,what a sheep I am). I did not have them on hand for direct comparison but did have a pair of the over achieving Sound Dynamic RTS-3 highly reviewed by Harry Pearson in the Absolute Sound.

Treble
Very smooth. Definition is fine but not hyper detailed. The sound is smooth and coherent enough so you will forget the need to analyze what you are missing or what is wrong. The tweeter integrates nicely with the midrange. There is little problem with beaming or point source. The driver subjectively seems to unload energy quite evenly from side to side thus reducing the need for the listener to sit on axis.



Midrange
Blends well with both upper and lower registers. Detail is fine but like the treble not over done. I used a harsh sounding receiver and the speakers were forgiving of its sound. This is not to say the midrange is muffled, as it is not. I would compare the sound character of the Pisces to the Sennheiser 650 headphones in the way they are very musical and forgiving while still providing a musical level of definition. They are not as sharply defined as the Grado line of headphones.

Bass
Perhaps the strongest characteristic of the Pisces. Deep with good definition resulting in a dynamic full range sound. I did not feel the compelling need for a subwoofer in my 12L x 17W x 10H room and I like bass.

Image
Dispersion is good with typical mini monitor, solid center channel imaging. Image is stable with a minimum of phase shift wavering. Depth is deep without sounding artificially holographic. Presentation is just right, not too forward or too laid back. Nothing is perfect and I would characterize the image being just a tad reticent if pushed and lacking the focus of the best.

A word of caution regarding the claimed 89db efficiency. The Pisces like power. If you want to get the best bass you will need to feed them high power with current. I also had an Aragon 2004 Mk 2 amp with (about) 100 watts that they did quite nicely with along the Aragon 200-watt beast.



CONCLUSION
Very nice for very little money. The Chinese audio products are coming and will change what we pay for hi-fi. No, this is not built like a B&W 805. But look at the trickle down technology you get: Kevlar driver, open-air tweeter, and high tech cabinet design with gorgeous real wood. I was worried this was nothing more that a B&W 805 knock off designed to be sold out of the back of a white van with the fake Rolex’s. Be prepared for a pleasant surprise.

CON
Better bring a big amp, these are not efficient
No Bi-wire capability
Crossover and internal wiring of dissimilar quality to the rest of the speaker
Not the last word in definition

Pro
Image
Trickle down high tech design
Solid Bass
Smooth and musical treble



TEST SOFTWARE
I tested the speakers with the following discs:

Stereophile Test CD 1
Stereophile Test CD 2
Stereophile Test CD 3

Diane Krall Love Scenes Redbook CD
Neil Young One The Beach HDCD
Joni Mitchell Both Sides Now DVD-A
Mettalica Black DVD-A
Bob Dylan Freewheelin’ SACD



TEST HARDWARE

JM Labs Cobalt 820 speakers
Sound Dynamic RTS-3 speakers
Aragon 8008 amplifier
Aragon 24K preamp
Cayin TA-30 Tube EL-34 Integrated Amp
Sony 333ES SACD player
Rotel 991 HDCD player
Technics DVD-A10 DVD-A
Monster 2.4 biwire speaker cable
Silver Audio 4.0 interconnects (preamp to amp)
Radio Shack Fusion interconnects (not bad)
Signal Type 2 interconnect
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-03-2004, 08:52 AM
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Great review! It's good to see more detailed reviews of this kind. I also try to list as much detail as possible when recommending a speaker to someone (although I wouldn't try taking the speaker apart - with my luck I'd put it back together and still have parts left over :) ).
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-03-2004, 11:29 AM
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OMG. These guys are outlandish! Sub $600 for a 5.1 SYSTEM???? Amazing what moving manufacturing to a country with a Billion people can do. Great review I'll keep my eyes on AER
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-03-2004, 10:00 PM
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tbonner1 nice of you to take the time to post the same peice of advertising on two threads at the same time. How did you find AVS this morning to make your very first posts the same? https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...22#post4015022

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-04-2004, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I spent alot of time on this review and thought it was worthy of it's own thread rather than only a follow-up post. You are right to police and question any review in any forum that looks overly positive. If you have any questions feel free to email me at [email protected] about it's origin.
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-18-2004, 03:49 PM
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I took a lot of flak for posting about the Panasonic Digi Amps which were suggested to me. While there might be better amps it was good to see that the new design could deliver better sound then hte traditional A\\AB designs which eminate from Japan.

While not everthing is going to be great that comes from China one has to be very selective about what does so up. As my favorite speaker designer told me the further east you go the worst quality suffers and by the time you get to mainland Chine it is hit or miss.

While there are people like Mark Levinson who is taking a $$800 product and remarking it Red Rose here and jacking the price up 10X's.

There are good things which are made in Chine,but like I mentioned one has to be selective.

JMO
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-02-2004, 09:32 PM
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I have a full 6.1 suite of these now....with 2 adire tempests in sealed boxes for subs.Its a great sounding setup.About 6 months now I think. I've been blown away by it and i wont upgrade till i can make a BIG step.
I also highly recommend the same exact speaker for all channels no matter what you choose.. It works miracles for imaging!

Jeremy
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-04-2004, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I very much agree with Edgebsl's evaluation of the imaging of the AER Pisces. I have experimented with different monitors and used different electronics, wire and stands. These speakers reveal the changes of each component, which shows (me) that they accurately reproduce what is feed into them without being additive or subtractive.

A few notes:

1-The Pisces need power to sound best. Bring a clean high current amp.

2-Some inefficient speakers need to be played loud to sound best. The Pisces still produce good micro dynamics at low listening levels.

3-Make sure you get good, solidly spiked, sand/shot filled stands for the best bass.

4-The bass is so good (with music) I do not miss using a subwoofer in a medium size room. I did get the AER (matching) A8 sub for the bottom octave. It sounds great, not tubby or boomy, and I got it to integrate very well.

5-These speakers still look high tech and stunning with a flawless real wood finish.

I have seen these go for $179 online.
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-09-2004, 12:16 AM
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Tbonner if you're still checking out this forum...what are you powering your speakers with?
I just went through reciever changes....
sony 333es ...almost enough power but ran hot after extended periods and shutdown.
HK 525 .....not enough power! believe it or not I could get it to choke and compress on 5.1 material.
pioneer 1014 ...finally enough power ! But not a watt to spare.Still runs cool though.
thank god for thx standards.


So far Ive had mine 9the speakers)almost a year now and no blown drivers! lol
pretty good considering I like it loud.

Some interesting data from mcacc....
almost no room correction at the higher bands but a 3db to 6 db removed from 125 and 250hz.I do have the speakers near a wall so that could be the reason for the spike.But I did think voices sounded thin with the eq in so i guess that means i like the hump in the midbass.some might not.

mcacc also set the aers to "large" and all 6 channels ended up close to flat at 40hz.weird for a bookshelf.I changed it back to small and 80hz.I dont trust myself not to blow them at full range.

Anyone else have these? Anyone have a BAD experience?
didnt like the sound? have any defects?

I've had mine for a year now and i still like them alot.
Although i was starting to think i was going to spend too much on a reciever and negate the low cost advantage of them.

It kinda sucks people have been so skeptikal of these.
I wish someone reputable could get ahold of some....put em on a test bench and do a published review. I would be curious of the results....

Jeremy
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-26-2005, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I have the system used with the AER's listed in my review. I am now using a great Chinese tube amp the Cayin TA-30 also sold in the US as the(slightly different) Prima Luna Prologue 2. With this amp, the Pisces throw a big soundstage.

As I have said, the AER's need power to sound their best. I also used a 200 and a 100 watt Aragon solid state amp along with a 100 watt Acurus.

There are many rave reviews when you first acquire somthing new. However the real test is how well you like somthing after you have lived with it for a while and the flaws become more apparent. After many months the Pisces still sound very musical with great imageing and surprising bass(when used with good amplification). I have a subwoofer for them but rarely use it as the bass is so good without one.

I suggest another budget bargain for speaker wire:the Home Depot sold orange and black power cable on sale for as low as 15 cents a foot. Read the reviews on Audio Asylum in the Cable section. There is so little difference between this stuff and my $500 list thick gold plated Monster Cable M series 2.4 it makes you wonder why anyone would spend more.
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