As you might suspect from its name, the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 uses two A3S drivers. One faces forward while the other is mounted on the back of the enclosure and fires to the rear. Both A3S drivers are in phase with each other. This bi-pole arrangement offers several advantages over the single- driver “The One.” First, having two drivers increases the 1+1’s power-handling capabilities and its sensitivity. The 1+1 is 3dB more sensitive than “The One,” and can handle twice as much power (50 watts RMS rather than The One’s 25-watt suggested maximum). Second, the two-driver configuration extends the speaker’s low frequencies. The 1+1 cabinet also has a pair of passive drivers, one mounted on each side of the enclosure, which further augment the 1+1’s bass.
The 1+1 cabinet isn’t a rectangular box; instead it has non- parallel front and rear baffles as well as angled edges to reduce diffraction. The 1+1’s grilles are attached to the enclosure magnetically making them easy to remove and re-attach. Whether the 1+1 sounds “better” with the grilles on or off is a matter of taste, since the grilles have some effect on both imaging and overall harmonic balance.
The overall build-quality of the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 is quite luxurious, with a deep-black gloss finish on most of the cabinet that is complemented by the rich wood grain of the side panels. The 1+1 rear panel sports a single pair of five-way gold-plated binding posts (there’s no point in bi-wiring a full-range driver). My only quibble with the 1+1’s physical configuration is that it would have been a nice option if speaker grilles were available to cover the side-firing passive drivers. The front and rear A3S drivers look just fine without the grille covers, but the side-firing passive drivers are not as well integrated into the side panels. The overall look of the speaker could benefit from the side-mounted passive radiators being covered by speaker grilles.
Most of my listening to the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 speakers was in my nearfield high-end desktop system. Like its smaller sibling, the 1+1 is small enough that without some kind of stand it will end up well below ear level when placed on a desktop. I used the same pair of closed-cell high-density “stands” that I use with many of my small desktop monitor reviews, as well as a pair of Ultimate Support adjustable speaker platforms to raise the 1+1 speakers so the center of the drivers were level with my ear height.
Although the 1+1 speakers will produce a remarkably cohesive and well-defined image almost regardless of how they are set up, proper set-up geometry is important for optimal imaging. I recommend using a tape measure to insure that the speakers are precisely triangulated so they are equidistant from your ears. Having one speaker more than an inch closer than the other can have an audible effect on their time-alignment. Also the toe-in between the two speakers needs to match. I used Genelec’s free “Speaker Angle” iPod App to put each speaker at exactly the same angle.
With a sensitivity of 87dB at one watt, I found that the 1+1s mated well with a variety of amplifiers. During most of the review I used a single April Music S1 power amplifier, which had more than enough power to drive 1+1 speakers to ear-bleed levels. I also used the 1+1 in a separate system driven by the tiny Olasonic Nanocompo Nano UA-1 integrated amplifier, which puts out only 13 watts into 8 ohms. Even with this small amplifier the 1+1 speaker could play cleanly at satisfying volume levels.
The Sound Of The Audience 1+1
Given that I called Audience’s “The One” the best dedicated desktop speaker I’d heard, how much better could the Audience 1+1 be? Much better? A little bit better? No better? Let’s see...