Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers (Monitors) Review Highlights
Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity has long been a leader in reviews of all categories of home theater and audio gear. This review covers the new desktop reference speaker from Audience, the company famous for reference-level interconnects, speaker cable, and power products. Using an innovative, compact design, the 1+1 stuns with performance that belies its miniscule size.
Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers (Monitors) Highlights Summary
- The ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Monitor is designed for desktops or small rooms
- Because of its compact size, full-range sound for some rooms and placement may require a subwoofer
- Imaging is superb, and ambient details are rendered beautifully
- A great item to surprise your friends, expecting small sound from these little speakers
Introduction to the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers (Monitors) Review
After unboxing these speakers, my first thought was “seriously?” These things are so tiny, so light, and 1,800 bucks? Wow, that seems crazy. As soon as I fired them up, I realized they were not meant to fill my room with sound, but that is not their purpose.
AUDIENCE CLAIRAUDIENT 1+1 PERSONAL REFERENCE SPEAKERS (MONITORS) REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: Small Modular Two-way Speakers
- Drivers: Two 3” Titanium Drivers, Two 3.5” Passive Radiators, One Each on Front and Rear
- Nominal Impedence: 8 Ohms
- Efficiency: 87 dB
- Dimensions: 8” H x 6” W x 9.75” D
- Weight: 7 Pounds/each
- MSRP: $1,800/pair
- SECRETS Tags: Audience, Desktop Speakers, Speakers
They are meant to sit on a desk or two end tables, and give you top notch sound at a level that won’t distract you from your work. But unlike the typical modular speakers that we use with our computers, these things sound great! However, you will need a small subwoofer if you want full-range music. I didn’t do this for the review because my sub was not nearby. My loss, I later discovered.
Design and Setup of the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers (Monitors)
The 1+1 is a bipole (three-inch titanium drivers fire front and rear identically) with passive radiators (half an inch bigger) flanking both sides. The enclosures are finished in a combination of high gloss piano black and rosewood. Very nice.
Since there are no crossovers, there is no crossover distortion. There is a lot to be said for having just one active driver and no crossover. The problem is getting the one driver to give you a full-range sound. These speakers are not meant for that. They deliver everything but the bottom three octaves. You need a subwoofer (a small one will do) to get sound down to, oh, let’s say 40 Hz. Remember, these are for casual listening, not organ symphonies.
The Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers (Monitors) In Use
I placed the 1+1 on my 24” Focal Utopia speaker stands and elevated each speaker a few inches further via three Stillpoints Ultra Mini Risers.
Audience had also sent along a pair of the new Au24 SE speaker cable, so I thought I may as well plug that in and start listening to the combo. The speaker cable retails for around $2,000 for an 8 foot stereo pair. The Audience is a slender cable, which I appreciated, as it was very easy to route around components.
I noticed fairly quickly that the Au24 SE was a quieter cable than my reference Naim NAC-A5. I also came to appreciate greater detail in the high frequencies. This could be a function of being a quieter cable, allowing me to notice the details better, of course. And, it could be also due to the ClairAudient having a very good high end response.
The more I listened to the Au24 SE cables, the more I liked them, so being curious, I later used the Au24 SE on my Focals and noticed similar results. I remember thinking that the highs sounded very sparkly and that the high frequencies overall became more focused and more specifically placed. I believe the Au24 SE speaker cable is the real deal, and definitely worth a listen. I love both the performance and the form factor, and it seems a good value to boot.
Back to the Audience speakers: several weeks later, I was watching The Jungle Book (1967) one night and was kind of amazed at what I heard. During the film, the score often starts subtly, almost imperceptibly in the background. Though I had seen the movie several times, I could not recall noticing how well the score syncs up with the action on screen.
First and foremost, the score is extremely effective at establishing the tone, be it suspense, danger, or what have you. The experience really felt almost surround-sound-like, with one part of the 1+1 dedicated to dialogue and another part dedicated to layering the sound effects and the score. It was very immersive and very impressive for any speaker, let alone one so tiny. I really cannot overstate how out of proportion the sound performance of the 1+1 is relative to its size.
Listening to Fiona Apple’s Sullen Girl revealed that the 1+1 falls short of realistic piano scale, but to its credit, it showcases the pure, breathy midrange of her voice in all its glory. Fast-paced music such as Talking Head’s I’m Not in Love sounded exciting and fun; no complaints there and even invited multiple listens. Bass-heavy hip hop such as Danny Brown’s Kush Coma revealed the need for a subwoofer in my room. So I switched to Jesus is Waiting by Al Green and was amazed at the definition of the guitar strings. Wow.
Conclusions about the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 Personal Reference Speakers (Monitors)
For their size, these speakers can’t be faulted. They are extremely well built, they image extremely well (better than several more expensive speakers I have heard), and they have a smooth yet highly resolved mid and upper frequency response that makes them very exciting and engaging to listen to. Their performance very much surprised me, and I’m certain they will surprise you too.