Its solid midrange neutrality and dynamic energy were exemplified in Tom Waits’ “Come On Up to the House,” which the Iota reproduced with the full, burning, gospel emotion of Waits’ vocal and a three-dimensional sense of depth on drums, percussion, and brass. Also on the closely miked “Picture in a Frame” and “Take it With Me,” the Iota reproduced the depth of Waits’ chest tones with remarkable naturalness.
However, at the heart of the humble Iota is its inspired quasi-ribbon tweeter. It bathes the upper octaves with a silken speed and fluidity that the average soft dome just can’t match in this price range. The transients of Joni’s dulcimer tingled, and the clatter of her flat-picking was distinct. Arturo Delmoni’s violin was convincingly reproduced in all its intense, resonant emotion—from transient shadings to delicately shifting tonal colors. Equally important was the excellent inter-driver coherence—not always a given where different transducer technologies are employed. However, the Iota’s cone mid/bass joins with the quasi-ribbon tweeter in a single unbroken voice. At least part of the credit is attributable to the small size of the mid/bass cone and a relatively high crossover point above the presence range, where the ear is less sensitive to driver interactions. The added benefit is that the higher crossover point leaves the ribbon plenty of dynamic headroom to perform its sweet magic.
Not to kick sand, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the Iota’s predictable limits. With so much seemingly effortless music on tap it’s tempting to overdrive the Iota. It’ll play fairly loudly but don’t expect it to generate rib-cracking pressure levels, authentically scaled images, or seismic bass excursions. And some dynamic compression is baked into the cake of every micro, particularly as the music descends below 125Hz or so.
The Neat Acoustics Iota is one serious little loudspeaker and ideal for connoisseurs with seriously limited space. As an aside, I don’t know how many times I became so lost in the music that these little marvels produced that I was fooled into thinking I was listening to the much larger set of speakers residing in my listening room. That’s just what the Iota does. And that’s what I call one Neat trick. Highly recommended.
SPECS & PRICING
Type: Two-way, bass-reflex stand-mounted loudspeaker
Frequency response: 60Hz–22kHz
Nominal impedance: 6 ohms
Sensitivity: 84 dB/1W/1m
Dimensions: 7.9" x 5.2" x 6.5"
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