Hands On Review: Stylish Leon Speakers Hit the Right Notes
CE Pro product editor Bob Archer gives his firsthand take on Leon Speakers Timbre TiUltima and Aaros UT-10 subwoofer.
Robert Archer · May 2, 2014
For decades loudspeaker companies predominantly stayed with what they believed was a tried-and-true formula of generally bland, veneer-covered boxes, while other industries took on bolder designs.
Today, however, more loudspeaker companies “get it” when it comes to the demand for consumer-friendly design, and few get it more than Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Leon Speakers. The custom manufacturer places as much emphasis on aesthetics as it does sound quality, and its Timbre TiUltima and Aaros UT-10 subwoofer epitomize such efforts.
The TiUltima’s sturdy cabinet uses Leon’s proprietary chambering technology and a ported enclosure to augment the speaker’s bottom end. The TiUltima’s rear panel has a single pair of binding posts, and in addition to its standard finishes, the company offers custom finish options.
The Aaros subwoofer is a compact unit that can be stood up or laid down, and its contemporary industrial design includes a 10-inch aluminum woofer. Driving the sub is the rack-mountable Class A/B L3-1K subwoofer amp. Leon says the amp is capable of delivering 1,000 watts of power, and it includes equalization controls.
Most of my listening was two-channel via NAD’s 3020 D amp, but I also set the speakers up in my home theater as main left and rights with the sub handling LFE.
The products were slightly bigger and heavier than I was anticipating. I placed the TiUltimas on a set of 24-inch speaker stands and ran Transparent in-wall speaker cables with spade termination. From the NAD amp I ran an interconnect from the subwoofer output to the input of the external amp and ran another speaker cable from the L3-1K to the passive Aaros sub.
I finished by making some basic adjustments to the L3-1K’s EQ section, crossover and volume settings and fine tuned it based on some early listening results. In my home theater, I connected Audio- Quest cables into the speakers’ terminals, and ran a Straight Wire cable from an Integra receiver’s LFE output to the L3-1K.
My initial motivation with the TiUltimas and Aaros was to see if they sounded as good as they looked at CEDIA Expo 2013.
In short — yes, the sound quality matches their aesthetics. The TiUltimas are easy to drive, play effortlessly and throw a huge soundstage. My preference with the TiUltimas/Aaros combination is in a two-channel system. By themselves the TiUltimas will realistically play down to about 50Hz depending on placement. The addition of the sub-augments the speakers’ ability to play rock, pop, country and jazz comfortably.
In my theater system, however, the Aaros wasn’t quite capable of moving enough air to satisfy the low-frequency requirements that I think most people rightly or wrongly expect from a sub. To its credit, Leon isn’t trying to trick people by tuning the sub to hit some magical figure that results in one-note bass. Using multiple subs should add to a Leon-based system’s ability to play low frequencies, especially if a multiple-sub array is well integrated into a theater.
Tonally I think the TiUltimas are pretty neutral, but I did experience a slight upper midrange emphasis on stringed instruments and some vocals.
I think my findings are typical for small speakers and small subs. Unless a manufacturer plays tricks through DSPs, the laws of physics dictate certain things, and playing deep, room-filling bass is one thing I’ve found small speaker systems can’t do without compromising other performance areas. That said, the speakers ooze fun and style.
What really separates the system for me is the looks. There are a lot of speakers that I wouldn’t dare show my wife. Leon’s industrial designs eliminate that concern.
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Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org
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