Piega Ace 5.0 loudspeakers review

hcc_recommendedPiega's slender, sweet-sounding loudspeakers want to sneak into Mark Craven's movie room

The AV industry once happily threw around the term Wife Acceptance Factor (or WAF for short). This was applied to any bit of gear that looked as if it had been styled for the home, not a pro-grade studio – in other words, it looked nice, and wasn't huge. I was reminded of this by Piega's Ace 50 floorstander.

Here's a loudspeaker that, regardless of your marital status, has instant appeal. It has a cabinet width of just 14cm, a depth of just 16cm, and a height (104cm) that means it would struggle to get on any of the big rides at Alton Towers. It's curvy too, not quite cylindrical but getting there, and available in decor-friendly finishes of black, white or silver. You could imagine it slipping into almost any room in your house unnoticed.

Importantly, however, the Ace 50 has a grown-up specification (as signified by its £1,980-per-pair ticket). So, while it slightly brings to mind the tallboy speakers found on the home-theatre-in-a-box systems of yesteryear, it shouldn't sound like them. 'Don't be fooled by its slender appearance,' insists Piega. 'The Ace 50 sounds surprisingly powerful.'

Heard But Not Seen
Because the speaker comes with its grilles pre-attached and removing them is a quite tricky affair requiring you to prise them off with a thin, flat implement, you might never lay eyes on the driver array. This would be a shame, however, as it gives you an idea of where your money has been spent.


The three-way Ace 50 tower has a front-facing bass reflex port

First thing to note is that the Ace 50 is a genuine three-way model, using two 4.75in woofers, one 4.75in mid-range, and a tweeter. And that tweeter is even more noteworthy, as it's an AMT (Air Motion Transformer) design.

As a brand, Piega eschews conventional dome tweeters in all of its loudspeakers apart from its in-wall and in-ceiling architectural models. Its AMT-1 unit – also featured on its larger, but more affordable Classic Series loudspeakers – uses a folded ultra-thin and ultra-lightweight diaphragm that offers a far greater surface area than a dome, backed by a neodymium magnet assembly. The claimed result is a superior transient response, and improved HF detail. A draw back is a lower natural impedance, which no doubt contributes to Piega's quoted nominal figure of 4ohm, rather than the more usual eight.

The 'MDS' drivers (MDS must surely be an acronym, but Piega doesn't reveal what for) are more traditional. The bottom two handle bass, while the top integrates with the AMT-1 tweeter above (crossover frequencies are unspecified). Just below the middle of the front baffle sits a reflex port.

Helping the Ace 50 be so slender is Piega's customary trick – the cabinet is made not from relatively chunky MDF or HDF, but from aluminium. And, no, this doesn't mean it rings like a bell if you give it a rap with your knuckles. This not only allows the speaker to curve seamlessly around the back, it means the thickness of the cabinet walls can be reduced, increasing internal volume over a similar-sized MDF-built speaker. One slightly odd aspect is that it also means the Ace 50s are cool-to-the touch.

The speakers are supplied with circular plinth stands that are a bit tricky to attach via their four screw fixings (even though the cabinet itself is light at 12kg). Piega says they help emphasise the Ace 50's 'slender silhouette', which is true, but I didn't find them the most ruthlessly stable of stands. There's a little wobble there.

Also in the Ace series, which launched earlier this year, are the Ace 30 bookshelf and Ace Centre, um, centre speaker. These are very much cut from the same aluminium cabinet, Swiss designer cloth. Both have an AMT-1 tweeter, and the bookshelf then gets a single 4.75in midbass, while the centre bags a pair. Dimensions are, again, usefully small. Anyone who has struggled to accommodate a boxy centre speaker under their TV or projector will welcome the Ace Centre.