At the end of last year we reviewed the Aurousal A1 loudspeaker.
What distinguished the A1 from most (if not all) of its immediate competition was that it was a based on a single full-range drive unit, an approach that has certain unique advantages as well as unavoidable limitations.
Given that it also used a very decent-looking real wood veneered enclosure, the quoted price of £450 seemed sharp enough for a Best Buy rating.
Aurousal's price rise
Six months later and a new Mk2 version of the A1 has appeared, claiming a number of improvements over the original model, but also including a significant price rise.
Now quoted at £549, we were a little surprised to discover that this relatively high figure excluded VAT, so the actual UK selling price of the A1 Mk2 is £645.
Significantly more than we anticipated and also substantially more costly than many rivals.
Inside the A1 speakers
Simplicity is, of course, the key feature. The solitary driver looks like one of Ted Jordan's small metal diaphragm units, combining a cast frame with a 90mm diameter metal diaphragm.
The main cone is conventionally concave, while a much smaller cone pointing outwards covers the voice-coil area in the middle.
Naturally there's just a single terminal pair and no crossover as such (though some degree of network equalisation has been introduced, which will inevitably introduce a little extra phase shift).
And naturally the single voice coil will have to handle the full bandwidth output from the amplifier, which will somewhat limit power handling and loudness potential.
The prime roles of the enclosure are to support the drive unit properly and ensure that the sound from the front of the diaphragm is kept separate from that generated out of phase by the back of the cone.
A tuned port fitted to the front panel and energised by the rearward radiation and the box volume will reinforce the bass region. Said enclosure is finished in a real wood veneer (beech or cherry) and, if it's a relatively prosaic example of the genre, at least it's the real thing.
Piano gloss black is an optional extra. According to Aurousal, this Mk2 version includes "bass weight optimisation", with further improvements to internal acoustic behaviour.
Kept well clear of walls and with a bottom end that's dry, well controlled and with adequate weight, the Mk2's much flatter overall in-room balance is a major improvement over the original.
The result is much better neutrality, alongside similar (though somewhat less extreme and obvious) overall time coherence.
The top end remains rather dull and lacking in 'sparkle', because it becomes progressively focused into a relatively tight beam as frequency rises. Best results are, therefore, found when sitting directly on the drivers' forward axes.
The A1 Mk2 might not quite match the tight time coherence of its predecessor, but it gets very close and delivers an intimacy and realism, especially with voices, that's exceptionally seductive.
The tight timing also underpins sharper and more vigorous dynamic expression than most of the competition. Some nasal and 'cupped hands' colorations are audible, but imaging is precisely defined and very well focused.