Emotiva Airmotiv T1 Loudspeaker


Equipment report
Emotiva Airmotiv T1
Emotiva Airmotiv T1 Loudspeaker

The jewel in the T1 crown is its ribbon tweeter, and indeed it is a thing of beauty to hear—airy, textured, and transparent. Favorites like James Taylor’s “Places in my Past” and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” rang true with well-defined tonal color and harmonics. There was a fully integrated ease and naturalism to both female and male singers, with none of the “duck-and-cover” rising-treble hijinks of so many modestly priced speakers. The excellent vocal articulation from background singers was another fine attribute. In general, articulation without hype or coloration was an important virtue of the T1—all the more so if one’s aim is to use the T1 for home cinema dialogue.

Even with the mix of ribbon and cone driver technology, the T1 exhibits good inter-driver coherence—an area that trips up many multi-driver speaker at all price levels. In an earlier day, mixing ribbons with cone transducers was not only a rarity; it was often ill-advised. The transient speed and low distortion of ribbons contrasted too sharply with the then-sluggish performance and colorations of traditional dynamic drivers, and the resulting mismatch couldn’t be ignored. This was especially true in the low frequencies where cabinet resonances drew further attention to the problem. This is why ribbons were better paired with smaller, faster cone drivers in smaller, more rigid cabinets. While the T1s showed occasional minor transient discontinuities, overall they exhibited very few of these issues.

A side note: Since the T1 is little more than three feet tall, be sure to use the included rubber footers or spikes, which not only improve bass response and imaging but also lift the tweeter and midrange to better align with the listener’s ear. Without the feet, top-end response darkens slightly, and loses some its crystalline sparkle.

Lest expectations begin spinning out of control, the T1 doesn’t quite hit the bullseye in every sonic criterion. It misses some of the textural, tonal, and dynamic linearity of an expensive studio monitor. Transparency is very good but as the music descends into the upper- and midbass there are hints of dynamic reticence and traces of cabinet noise that cause decays and reverberant information to be slightly reduced.

At more than a hundred bucks less, the Elac Debut F5 (Issue 260) could be Emotiva’s toughest competitor. Both are studies in “slam” with weighty bass response into the thirty-cycle range. However, the F5 is a bit more forward in the studio-monitor sense, and the tweeter distinctly drier than the free-flowing Emotiva folded ribbon. Both speakers lose some transparency and imaging precision to modest cabinet colorations, and both represent unimpeachable value.

By the often serious standards of the high end, where folks regularly tap an equity line to pony up for a set of cables, the Emotiva T1—with the occasional compromise—hits big-time paydirt. When you find a near-full-range loudspeaker with some high-end musical cred that will also take you on a high-octane sonic ride for just shy of $700, what’s not to like? A great twofer? Count me in.

Specs & Pricing

Type: Three-way, bass-reflex floorstander
Drivers: 32mm folded ribbon, 5.25" mid, (2) 6" woofers
Frequency response: 37Hz–27kHz ±6dB
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms
Sensitivity: 88dB
Dimensions: 8.33" x 37.6" x 11.6"
Weight: 40 lbs.
Price: $699/pr.

135 Southeast Parkway Court
Franklin, TN 37064