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Equipment Review

August 2001

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Audio Concepts, Inc. Jaguar 2000 Loudspeakers

by John Potis


Following the publication of my review of the ACI Jaguar 2000 speakers, ACI’s Mike Dzurko asked me if I had used the speakers with a subwoofer. I had not. It didn’t occur to me to try a speaker with such a healthy bass output with a subwoofer. Dzurko told me that most Jaguar 2000 owners buy one of his subwoofers and a pair of his high-pass filters. He promised that once relieved of the duties of bass, the speakers make a great leap forward in terms of midrange transparency and detail.

As the Jaguar 2000s had long been returned to ACI, Dzurko asked if I would be interested in doing a follow-up review -- the speakers with a Titan II subwoofer and a pair of high-pass filters. SoundStage! agreed. By the time I got all the pieces of the puzzle reassembled, I was running in a pair of the Wyetech Onyx mono amplifiers, so I placed a pair of ACI’s 85Hz high-pass filters before the amps and proceeded to dial in the subwoofer. These passive filters, which cost $29 USD per pair, resemble long RCA connectors with input and output ends and are meant to be used at line level. They filter out bass below 85Hz, leaving this for the subwoofer, which was connected at line level to a second pair of outputs from my Herron VTSP-1 preamp. The $1000 Titan II has a 12" long-throw downward-firing driver and 250W amplifier in its 26"T x 13"W x 15"D cabinet.

Once everything was in place, I settled in for some listening. I would summarize bass performance of the Jaguar 2000/Titan II speaker system as excellent. I’ve owned ACI’s original Titan subwoofer for years, and I’ve never run into anything that outclasses it on either a dollar-for-dollar basis or where the reproduction of music is concerned. Assuming proper placement of the Titan (which is always important in subwoofer performance and probably why so many people complain about poor subwoofer demos in dealer showrooms and so many reviewers eschew them all together), the bass has always been tuneful, deep and powerful. Once I dialed in the Titan II, bass integration was seamless, and the speakers and sub sang with a single voice.

I noticed immediately that the soundstage was more forward with the Jaguar 2000/Titan II combo than it had been with the speakers alone. Where previously the speakers had a somewhat laid-back perspective with a soundstage that rarely made it to the plane of the speakers, the soundstage now had a more up-front presentation that rarely didn’t make it up to the plane of the speakers. And the soundstage was huge! HUGE! It was much taller now and wider too. It was much more expansive, and images floated completely free of the speakers’ locations. While the front of the soundstage took a step forward, the rear of the stage did not change, so the sense of depth was slightly better too.


ACI Titan II subwoofer

The sound was now decidedly more relaxed. There was no sense of strain as the Titan II assumed the duties of bass reproduction from the 7" drivers of the Jaguar 2000s. Even the power amplifiers seemed to appreciate being freed of the burden of reproducing bass. Indeed, transparency was much improved, and the music now had a sense of liquidity that it didn’t have before. Without a doubt, once relieved of bass duties, the Scan-Speak driver used in the Jaguar 2000 proved eminently capable as a midrange transducer (no secret there -- the same driver is used in this capacity in many much more expensive speakers). The midrange was more detailed and immediate, soundstaging improved immensely, and transparency made giant gains.

Subjective system efficiency also took a leap forward. Once relieved of the duties of bass reproduction, the speakers required but a fraction of the power they needed before to play with authority, and I was free to experiment with any type of amplifier I saw fit. Those who don’t know the Wyetech Onyx monoblocks may be shocked to learn that these are 13W SET amps. Even I was shocked to find that 13 watts per channel were now capable of rocking the house in conjunction with the Titan II subwoofer.

Does this combo beat out my pair of $4000 Silverline Sonatina IIs? Depending on your tastes and your needs, it very well may. As a system, the Jaguar 2000/Titan II combo is as easy to drive, and it has much greater bass and dynamics per watt of input. From the midrange on up, the nod probably goes to the Silverlines, but the margin is rather narrow. The Sonatinas still maintain an edge in transparency and cohesiveness, but both systems image extremely well. The ACI combo still faces some pretty tough competition at its price, but that’s what happens when you're promoted from the minors into the majors.

In the end, what ACI has created is a pair of $2599 speakers that when combined -- properly and carefully! -- with the $1000 Titan II subwoofer competes strongly with speakers well in excess of the system's price. And what shouldn’t escape notice is that you can buy the speakers now and upgrade later through the purchase of the Titan II. In doing so, you will improve most of the important qualities of the Jaguar 2000s -- and get a speaker upgrade for the price of a subwoofer.

...John Potis
johnp@soundstage.com

Audio Concepts, Inc. Jaguar 2000 Loudspeakers
Prices:
Jaguar 2000, $2599 USD per pair; Titan II, $1000; high-pass filters, $29. All products have a 30-day "hassle free" return policy.
Warranty:
Five years parts and labor.

Audio Concepts, Inc.
901 South 4th Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
Phone: (601) 784-4570

E-mail: sales@audioc.com
Website: www.audioc.com

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