ACI Customer Reviews

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  • Jr. Member
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ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #20 on: 2 Aug 2005, 01:40 pm »
Looks like Soundstage didn't bother reading the manual.  They say to set up the speakers with the tweeters "most likely" on the inside.  The Sapphire XL's manual (p. 9) says to place the tweeters on the outside for best stereo imaging, which is how I have mine set up.

Mike Dzurko

ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #21 on: 3 Aug 2005, 03:39 am »
Quote from: mdubrow
Mike, I meant no offense on the product photos!  I am well aware how difficult product photography is!

I'm now starting to wonder if I should replace my center channel Emerald with a Sapphire XL....

No offense taken  :lol:  You're right, it is hard to really make a product shine online, but we should do a better job of it . . . working on it!

We've been working on a center XL for most of 05 . . . planning on being able to ship by the end of the year.

Ray G

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Panorama Paradise!
« Reply #22 on: 10 Sep 2005, 05:21 am »
Since it's been a little while since there's been a new review, I thought there was no harm in giving some props to my pair of ACI Panorama, which have exceeded all of my expectations since the day I got them.

At the beginning of the year I decided an equipment upgrdae was in order, so first I swapped out my trusty Denon 3801 receiver for the Sherwood/Newcastle P-965/A-965 amp/preamp combo. To my ears the new electronics proved to be a significant sonic upgrade, and I quickly got the urge to upgrade my three front speakers (PSB Image 4T and 8C). Weeks of lurking on the AVS Forum (where I've been a member for awhile) as well as many of the other message boards relating to web-marketed speakers (the ususal suspects that we all know well), I had decided to take the plunge and put in an order for a pair of Sapphire XLs and a Protege center. After just a few weeks on the waiting list, ACI had a big spring sale that offered a pair of maple Panorama for a price that was not much more than the XLs. Being impatient as I am, I successfully had Brenda switch my order from the XLs to the Panorama, which arrived on my doorstep at the end of April.

After living with the Panorama for several months now, I can only say that I find these speakers to be a true delight. There's no comparison to the PSBs, which were a very good value for the money, but the ACIs are in a whole other league. I find the treble to be wordefully detailed but not fatiguing or harsh at all, but my two favorite qualities of these speakers are the midrange and the stereo imaging. The midrange of the Panorama to me sounds very full and natural, with none of the boxy, constricted quality that in hindsght I realized bothered me about the 4T.

When reviewers would comment on the "holographic" nature of a pair of speakers, I never quite understood what that meant, until I spent time listening to the Panorama in stereo. This is a full 3-D experience for me, as instruments float in the room, perfectly arrayed in a complete, dimensional soundstage that I had never experienced before in stereo, especially in my listening room, which reqiures me to keep my speakers about 12 feet apart (placed on Match stands, toed in very slightly, just a couple of degrees). I'm so pleased with the stereo imaging that I've begun listening to my DVD-A discs exclusively in stereo instead of in 5.1 surround.

I do run the Panorama with a sub so obviously I don't have much to say about the bass extension of the ACIs. For movies I find the Panarama to be very loud and dynamic when needed, and a good match with the Protege (while I like the Protege, I find that it is not quite in the Panorama's class; the Essence is too big for my needs, so I may wait for the XL center when it's time to upgrade).

I am very pleased with my purchase and would recommend ACI to anyone who was in the market for a high quality speaker.

Ray G

Harry P

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ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #23 on: 13 Sep 2005, 11:01 pm »
Ray, nice writeup! It sure seems that one of the characters of ACI speakers that always come through is how well they portray space. They are just so dimensional. I think it would be helpful if sometime you could play the Panoramas without the sub just to give people an idea of their bass ability.


My Titan Subwoofer Has Arrived
« Reply #24 on: 1 Feb 2006, 01:13 pm »
My beautiful ACI Titan (rose walnut) arrived yesterday. I barely set it up - did not take any SPL readings yet - just dialed in the phase and volume, and guessed at the cross-over. Then played some of my bass-heavy CDs:
Pharoah Sanders - Message From Home
Angelique Kidjo - Logozo
Bahia Black - Ritual Beating System
Weather Report - Black Market

So far I have three words which describe what I experienced: dubya oh dubya! One more word would be: tuneful. By far the best sounding sub I've heard (others: REL, Martin Logan, Polk, B&W, Klipsch). It kind of reminded me of when I first got a microwave oven. I remember thinking, "how did I ever get along before without one of these?"  Awesome low-end fill-in and I haven't even purchased my NASA grade, diamond encrusted, platinum gold, cryptonite radiated, moon dust sprinkled, $8000./ft. power cord yet.  ;^}

Mike, thank you for designing such a brilliant sub. It is truly an enhancement to my system.

And if any of you have any reservations about adding a sub to your system, as I seriously did ... fuggetaboutit. Just do it. Order yourself a Titan and hear what you've been missing. It really is THAT good.

Mike Dzurko

Re: My Titan Subwoofer Has Arrived
« Reply #25 on: 2 Feb 2006, 02:54 am »
Quote from: rockadanny
My beautiful ACI Titan (rose walnut) arrived yesterday. I barely set it up - did not take any SPL readings yet - just dialed in the phase and volume, and guessed at the cross-over. Then played some of my bass-heavy CDs:
Pharoah Sanders - Message From Home
Angelique Kidjo - Logozo
Bahia Black - Ritual Beating System
Weather Report - Black Market

So far I have three words which describe what I experienced: dubya oh dubya! One more word would be: tuneful. By far the best sounding sub I've hear ...

Well you are quite welcome, and I would say your fun is just beginning. As that sub warms up, it is only going to get better. And as you dial it in . . .  well, you are going to re-discover all your favorite musical selections.  Have fun, that's what this is all about and thanks for reporting in  :D


ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #26 on: 2 Feb 2006, 03:28 pm »
Great review!!!


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Panorama Initial Impressions
« Reply #27 on: 4 Aug 2006, 07:10 pm »

Author Note
I posted these initial impressions over a year ago (March 2005).  I've since moved to a much smaller space, but the Panoramas are still with me.  And yes, I still love them.  The Maestro subwoofer is in storage for now as well, but I'm dying to get re-integrated into the system.  It now looks like I'll be moving again in the near future, but I'll try to post some updated findings as soon as things settle down a bit.

If any prospective buyers have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

First, a little bit about me. I've been playing the audio game for a few years now, beginning as a college student in 1989. I was started down the path after hearing a set of B&W 801's powered by some big Melos tube amp. That system had a certain magic that I think all of us chasing the "audio dragon" know about - that cohesive expression of a musical event that goes beyond the frequency charts, impedance curves, and waterfall plots. Since then, I've  hoped to recapture some of that magic, and I'm happy to report that with my ACI Panoramas, I think I've finally  found a set of speakers that will be staying in place for a long time!

First off, thanks to all in this forum for all of your assistance and guidance. The enthusiasm, support, and knowledge provided here in the forum is one of the reasons I decided to give another set of speakers a trial. I first posted to this group a few months back with a VERY open-ended request for recommendations for my room and listening habits. Please refer to this thread if you're interested.

In short, I was looking for a system that would do both music and movies well, with musical tastes running all over the map. After not a small amount of discussion with Mike@ACI, I was guided towards the following: 1 pair Panoramas; 1 Protege center; and 1 Maestro sub.

Presale Impressions
Mike is a great guy, and gave really down to earth advice on putting together the above system. It was really nice to talk with someone in the audio biz without "The Attitude"! I was torn between the Sapphire XL's and the Panoramas, but Mike listened to me really closely and I'm almost positive that he made the right suggestion for me.

After a few weeks of painful waiting, the shipment from UPS came. These speakers are definitely heavier than they look! The speakers were all very well packaged and arrived in good condition, except for broken grill grommets on the Protege. Also, somehow the UPS folks must have dropped the Maestro amp unit, and managed to bork it despite ACI's great packaging. Now, if anyone reading this is in any way fearful for doing online business with ACI let me tell you how this issue was resolved:

Two very cordial emails to Mike resulted in a new Protege grill and Maestro amp being sent via UPS 2-day to my door at no expense to me! ACI's response to this was above and beyond ANY response I've ever received from a brick-and-mortar retailer.

OK, so ACI is a great company. But how do the speakers sound? Well, in a word, FABULOUS! Since only the Panoramas have had anything resembling sufficient time to break in, I'll limit my observations to them for this post. I'll also try to add more comments later as all the speakers get more play time, but can't make any promises that I won't be too busy listening to music and movies to remember to come back!

Initial Impressions
My immediate impressions after initial setup (before break-in) were pretty startling to me. The Panoramas exhibited a smoother and more cohesive top end, with a nice, round bass that was not flabby or poorly defined at all. In fact, they had more satisfying bass response than my Paradigm Studio 100v2's! A very small and narrowly isolated upper-bass "honk" largely smoothed out after about 30 hours of break-in, and the top end continued to sweeten and gel with the rest of the frequency range. I have to admit that performing critical evaluation of these speakers has been  hard, because when I sit down to listen, I find myself getting carried away by the music and not taking good notes!  This is truly a first for me in all my years of audio. In order to present my findings in a somewhat structured manner, let me try to break things down into categories.

Bass Response
As I said, the bass response of these speakers is more satisfying in my room than my previous Paradigm Ref 100v2's.  It's definitely a full bass sound, but not bloated or loose. The bass lines have more "purr" to them. This is   especially noticeable on stringed instruments as the sound which "surrounds" the bass fundamental and provides much of the decay signature. This is bass that is definitely more satisfying to me, and is richer than the stereotypically "dry" British sort of sound. While some speakers I have heard create this warmth by trading off bass "speed", the Panoramas are quite fast and capable of delivering a real bass punch.

Midrange Response
The midrange is very clear on these speakers. After about 60 hours of break-in, these speakers are still smoothing out. One major difference from my previous speakers in the midrange is the lack of prominent sibilance that I am getting from the Panoramas. I find this very refreshing - overall, the midrange on the Panoramas is smoother yet very detailed. I feel like I'm hearing more detail in the entire midrange region, both in the primary- and over- tones. Acoustic space information on these speakers is incredible, which makes me believe the transient response in the midrange is really excellent.

Treble Response
Oh my, the move from metal domes to the fabric domes in the Panoramas is welcome relief! Again, the word "smooth" comes to mind. The top end is seamlessly integrated with the midrange. These tweeters are really forcing me to revise how I've thought of "detailed treble". Since having these in my home, I'm aware that I've been confusing a "clear as glass" sort of treble for "truly airy" clarity. Glass is clear and sharp; air is simply clear without any real perception of "sharpness" – just simply details, without any hint of harshness. To not mince words, I know that I am playing well-recorded music at louder levels than ever before due to a total lack of harshness. And of course, as the volume goes up, more details are being revealed to me - again without harshness. It's a spiral towards some fairly loud yet entirely satisfying listening sessions!

Overall Frequency Response
Satisfying and purring low end, clean and full midrange, and a smooth extended top end - put it together for very seamless speakers from top to bottom. It's hard for me to express how much no one part of the response of these  speakers stands out, yet as a whole they are truly exceptional in my experience. Transition between the frequency ranges is truly seamless, and the bass-midrange-treble continuity is even more remarkable when I realize it’s all coming from two reasonably–sized enclosures.
I can't pinpoint the cause, but these speakers are making me rediscover my whole music collection and also bringing smiles the whole while. I'm listening through whole albums more than ever before. I know it sounds like ad-copy, but my Panoramas are really letting me get to the emotional content of the music.
I know it’s been said before in this forum, but the Panoramas in my setup are providing me with really smooth and continuous performance. The music is being presented not just as a collection of sonic components, but with its musical context and meaning intact.

Sitting fairly close (~6 feet), I get a super image from these speakers. In my setup, I've never heard imaging far outside any speakers. The Panoramas are suffering the same setup limitations here, but they truly do disappear as distinct sources. With the speakers pointed straight ahead, the stereo image is wide and solid, and dispersion is broad enough to give everyone across the couch a good image. Even though the speakers aren't what I would consider small, they definitely are not locatable as boxes pushing out the voluminous sound they do.

The speakers are definitely deeper than I thought they would be, but also narrower. I wouldn't call them small speakers, but their overall dimensions do give them an elegance that is neither floorstander nor bookshelf.  Construction is first rate, and the cherry panels I have on my Panoramas are really well done. I'm eager to see how these redden up in the Arizona sun. That last sentence may be the first time I've ever expressed interest in keeping speakers for a long term! The cabinets are heavy, and do a really good job of damping vibrations.

In Closing
Big thumbs up for these speakers and ACI! I really want to thank everyone here that shared their thoughts with me during my initial inquiry, and Mike for giving absolutely fabulous support and guidance. These speakers have satisfied both the audiophile and the music lover in me, and that's something special in my experience. While I tried not to wax poetic about the individual audiophile-approved aspects of these speakers, it's also hard for me not to gush a little bit. My Panoramas have made me proven to me what I've known in my heart for a long time - even though I may not be an audiophile "expert", and my speakers may not appear on some published list, when it comes to my own audio system, I AM the only expert whose opinion really matters, and I can write my own happy ending (with a LOT of help from ACI, that is)!


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #28 on: 26 Oct 2006, 11:06 pm »
I guess I should have posted the thread I started "Stereo Maestro's with a pair of Panorama's and an R-DES" in this thread because it is a review of ACI speakers. :roll: 


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #29 on: 2 Nov 2006, 03:32 pm »
Thanks for the great and detailed review


ACI Customer Reviews - May the Force be with you!
« Reply #30 on: 2 Jan 2007, 10:13 am »
As promised, here is my review of the ACI Force XL which I have had in my system for 6 months.

My modest hifi system comprises the CIAudio D*200 monos for amplification, Bent TAP and McCormack ALD-1 Rev A Gold for preamplification, LG DVD player (transport) into Altmann Attraction or Paradisea DAC and speakers are Thiel CS2.4.

I always felt that the Thiels were slightly bass shy. They are fullrange speakers that accurately portray music, and are particularly good with defining highs and midrange (thus the view held by some that Thiels sound sharp, dry and clinical). Don’t get me wrong, the Thiels do have bass that plummets low and would be copasetic for most genres of music bar heavy rock or disco type. While the bass goes quite low, it lacks authority and assertiveness and this characteristic robs the music of much realism, scale and dynamism.

My aim was to find a Sub that would seamlessly integrate with my 2-channel system, providing seismic support for hifi listening as first priority and enhancing home theatre experience as my second priority.

The Sub route was always at the back of my mind but since a brief fling with the REL Strata over a decade ago, I was hesitant to go down that road. Months went by as I tweaked with speaker placement, line conditioners and cables. The addition of the Hydra 6 was perhaps the biggest factor in giving me more bass but the overall LF was still below my expectations. Reluctantly, I decided to look for a Sub that had these characteristics: (1) reasonable price, (2) reliable, (3) solid warranty (4) ability to fine tune bass (5) audiophile quality, (6) look great, preferably blend with wooden floor and furniture.

I started with a visit to our local hifi centre (huge shopping centre with about 50 shops selling midfi to hifi to ultra hifi gear). REL’s new flagship (Storm) sounded better suited to home cinema, as did the Sunfire. They had tremendous oomph but after 30 minutes with each, I left with a splitting headache!

My internet forays led me to shorlist 3 candidates: the Hsu, SVS and ACI. Of course, without the benefit of auditioning any of these “virtual” Subs, I realized that I had to tread very carefully, read as many reliable testimonies as I could and finally, write to the manufacturer and ask as many questions as I can think of. The Hsu seemed to be riddled with reliability issues and I had nagging doubts that the Sub might be “Made in China”, which probably explains the QC issues. The SVS seemed more suited to home cinema which would be great for those who placed home cinema first and hifi second. While the designs were sleek and un-Sub looking, I felt the ultra modern design might stick like a sore thumb with my other furniture. That left me with ACI. AudioCircle gave me tremendous insight into the testimonies of ACI owners. I observed that many were happy with their purchases and even stuck on to the product when the time came to upgrade or replace. That was a very good start. ACI was also very well known for their 2-channel speakers, garnering critical acclaim for many of them. I felt assured. ACI’s passion in what they do can be gleaned from how much time and effort they spend testing the speakers in their premises (once a church) under real conditions. Passion for what they do is a sure sign of a great product! The price was “cheap”, considering the stratospheric price of the REL’s and Storm. I then exchanged a few emails with ACI and discovered that head honcho Mike Dzurko actually bothers to respond personally and came across as a genuinely sincere and knowledgeable person. I was expecting a lot of marketing hype and salesmanship but received none of that. Instead, I realized that I was exchanging emails with someone who was eager to help me achieve better musical enjoyment regardless of whether I purchased a sub from him. When he showed me a prototype photo of the new Force XL, I knew this Sub was my choice.  It looked gorgeous – more like a piece of furniture than a Sub!

When the Sub arrived I found that it was impeccably packed. I wasted no time setting it up which proved to be quite easy. The instruction manual is well written and easy to follow and a CD containing test tones is also provided. ACI recommended use of a SPL meter but not having one in hand, I relied on my ears. After a couple of months of adjustments, I think I have found the optimum settings. I found the Sub improved with cable swap and rubber footers (3M). With the Sub “ON” 24/7, the bass began to improve, exerting its subtle authority over all kinds of music but particularly so with Jazz. Bass lines are clean and easy to follow, not blurred or overhung. I remember watching “Saving Private Ryan” and being impressed with the beach scene assault – shells flew from right to left and exploded with solid thuds that shook my floor and rattled the glass. Wow, here I was with the Allied landing forces somewhere in Omaha beach, Normandy, ducking for cover! (BTW, when I am watching a movie the volume is cranked 10% up).

The real truth of how good the Force XL was came one day when I was switching some equipment. This required me to switch off the Sub for a while. When everything was in place I switched on everything except the Sub!! Sitting in my sweet spot, I was wondering what happened to my sound system – the music sounded thin, anemic and lifeless! It was only after a while that I realized the Sub was OFF!!

A good Sub must not call attention to itself, but its absence must be instantly felt!! The ACI Force XL has met all of my expectations and continues to amaze me with its self effacing way!

Anyone looking for a good audiophile Sub should seriously consider the ACI Force XL! It has been one of my best audio purchases that I have made in a long time. Needless to say, it will be a permanent fixture rather than a transient chattel! I cannot believe that my purchase of the Sub was like a pig in the poke but what I found was a jewel!

I wish Mike and all the wonderful team at ACI a great year ahead!

Best Regards

Ps, the Force XL comes with a solid 5-year warranty!

Ross @ ACI

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Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #31 on: 3 Jan 2007, 04:31 pm »
Thanks Dennis!  Let us know what your thoughts are as you continue to use the Force XL in your system.  Great review!


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #32 on: 17 Jan 2007, 12:47 am »
That was indeed a great review, thanks


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #33 on: 17 Jan 2007, 01:04 am »
Hi Eric
Thank you! I meant every word!  :D
Best Regards


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #34 on: 17 Jan 2007, 01:30 am »

Congrats. Mike sure knows how to make subs!!! The odds are very likely I will end up with both models for my two systems  :lol: :lol:

If you ever get the opportunity to check out his Sapphire XL - don't pass up on the opportunity!


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #35 on: 17 Jan 2007, 01:46 am »
Hi A6M-Zero
Thanks very much! Yes, I have been eyeing the Sapphire XL's from an ever closing distance for a while now. Wish I had known of them before I invested BIG $$$ in my Thiels! There is a lot to be said for synergy of using ACI main speakers and Subs! And, I know the WAF on the Sapphire's is waaay higher than the Thiels. I had some friends who commented that the Thiels looked like some boxes you find in the British Museum, in the Egyptian civilization section ... :)
Best regards


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #36 on: 17 Jan 2007, 02:17 am »

Thiel makes a great product. I flirted with the idea of dancing with his new point-source monitors (model# escapes me) when they first surfaced last year.

The Sapphire XL's truly are special monitors and are at reat to listen to. I do have to warn you; they can become addictive and have a subtle manner of getting you hooked. Hopefully you will experience it sometime in the near-future.

Meanwhile, enjoy your sub that carries virtues I find rather uncommon in the sub market - tone and texture. Bass is a living and breathing force and isn't just about a perfectly flat FR curve...  glad to see Mike caught onto that many moons ago. 


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Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #37 on: 30 May 2007, 08:19 pm »
I just posted the following as a separate thread. I understand that it is good to have all reviews in one place for an easy read so here it is again:

I may be the first on this 

Review: ACI Emerald XL / Force XL 5.1 setup

I’ve now had this setup for a couple months. I’ve read a lot of reviews that leave me wondering just what the author is really trying to say. So, before going into the details, I’ll make my main points
> If you’re looking for a terrific 5.1 system that will absolutely kill the competition in this price range- buy this system. 
> If you’re looking for small, attractive satelittes that just ooze music and can be listened to for hours on end- get the Emerald XLs.
> If you are searching for a small, great looking super music reproducing sub that goes LOW – buy the Force XL.


Everything about working with this company is great, products, warranty, the people. My only complaint is that sometime it is hard to get through by phone. ACI could use more phone lines and more people to answer them. But, they do return calls and emails promptly.

Appearance is a lot better than the photos on the website. The proportions are just right, the cabinets are smaller than I pictured (great for WAF) and the finish is elegant. I went with the cherry with the black edges and it is super classy. This ain’t no crappy vinyl cabinet, I’ve seen mega-buck speakers that didn’t have this quality of finish. I bet the piano finish is stunning as well. These little babies just ooze quality. Even the brushed aluminum binding post plates and the gold binding posts are real high-end quality.

Looks are important in audio and potential mates, but performance is what really counts in the long haul. As fine as the ACIs look, they perform even better. I’ve always been a fan of the midrange of the various iterations of the famous Rogers and Spendor LS3 5a. Well the Emerald XL gets the mids with the same quality but to my ears sounds more neutral, like it doen’t have that BBC dip. And, has the tuneful quality and punch of the LS3 5a without that bit of low end bloat, again more neutral. Considering the significantly lower cost and better finish, the Emerald XLs are a downright bargain.  The Force XL is one potent little sub. Why anyone would buy a REL or Velo if they heard this sub is beyond me. In a discussion with Mike at ACI he said that to him a subwoofer must “first do no harm” he said that left hand of a piano was far more difficult for a sub than explosions and such. He knows what he’s talking about. This sub sounds real, and it has no problems with the explosions and car crashes in the movies.  I have no doubt that this would be a subwoofer that would enhance virtually any high-end system. Planars and such come to mind.

What don’t I like about this system? At anywhere near this price point, not a darn thing. These are relatively small speakers and I have no doubt that there are larger speakers that will play louder, but they won’t sound ½ as good, be nearly as accurate or be near this quality. Another thing to note, ACI has the same 5 year warranty that is pretty standard in the industry. Butt, the subs have a full 5 year warranty on the electronics as well - -  I don’t know who else does that. Look at the warranty for Velo, Hsu, B&W, SVS, REL, etc. they’re all 2-3 years on the electronics. I wonder why?  To me, this just underlines the quality that ACI puts into their products.

I am not easily impressed, but ACI and these speakers have greatly impressed me! 5 Stars!


Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #38 on: 31 May 2007, 09:46 pm »
Great Review


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Re: ACI Customer Reviews
« Reply #39 on: 2 Jun 2007, 08:43 am »
Just wanted to report on my setup of ACI Force subs.
Got them BEHIND me in the corners, which turned out to provide the flattest response.
All I did was connect my processor's sub output to one and loop it through to the other (using RIGHT inputs), set the level halfway and I never had to twiddle any knobs since.
Amazingly, the bass level synced beautifully with the speakers (Linn Kisto processor set to 80Hz, all speakers SMALL), in  all modes: SACD, CD Stereo+Sub and movies!
I never felt the need of changing the bass level.
The bass is now quite tuneful and never annoying (I'm not an explosion addict).
I love it!
And believe me, I have been experimenting endless with my previous single sub (REL Strata V)...
I have placed my surround speakers (Linn Akurate 212) on a solid block of wood, same size, and this sits on the sub, leaving ample bare cherry wood for anyone to admire, at the same time providing the correct height for the surround speakers.
Well done ACI and thanks for your personal response to my queries and subsequent order! :D
Barend (Holland)