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 manufacturerâ€™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.
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 â€œextrasâ€. 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 2.2â€™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 havenâ€™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 donâ€™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 Soundâ€™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 â€œname brandsâ€ 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 â€œinsulationâ€ 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 manâ€™s B&W 805 you ask?
I have had both the B&W Matrix and Nautilus 805â€™s before I went to the JM Labs 820â€™s. I remember the matching stands alone for the Nautilus 805â€™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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Rolexâ€™s. Be prepared for a pleasant surprise.
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
Trickle down high tech design
Smooth and musical treble
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 Freewheelinâ€™ SACD
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