SMR logoACI Sapphire Review

ACI loudspeakers and sub-woofers are fast becoming a favourite of ours here at SMR Home Theatre, so we couldn't wait to hear the Sapphire III, a highly regarded model in all spheres.  was the first of our reviewers to receive his sample and first to post his review.

Many thanks go to Mr. Mike Dzurko for his help and for providing the review sample.

ACI Sapphire III Specifications:

Two-way aperiodic loaded system with sloped baffle.
Woofer: 7" Kevlar layered cone, dual voice coil with rubber surround.
Tweeter: 1.1" hand-damped textile dome, ferro-fluid cooled.
Frequency response: 64Hz 20kHz +/- 3db anechoic.
Sensitivity: 90dB @1 watt/1 meter.
Impedance: 6 ohms nominal.
Size: 16" high, 10" wide, and 10" deep at bottom.
Finish: Lacquered natural cherry, natural or black oak. Black fabric grill.
Weight: 55 pounds/pair.
Price: $999/pr. factory-direct from manufacturer.
Shielded version also available singly for use as a center channel for home theater.

(All specifications as per manufacturer)

ACI Sapphire IIIACI Sapphire III Loudspeaker&

& That aura of a beautiful sunset glistening across a lake. A gentle breeze rustling tree leaves on a pleasant summer day.  The succulent scent of fresh cut flowers.  That pleasure drive to nowhere in particular - and all the time to get there.  A relaxing evening spent at a philharmonic concert.  Settling into your favorite chair and listening to the performance of choice though a pair of ACI Sapphires&

ACI Sapphires?  You bet! I have been enjoying the Sapphire III loudspeakers on my main system for well over a month now and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of time spent with them.  Imagine if you will a loudspeaker system that is as comfortable to listen to as your favorite pair of jeans and shoes are to wear they just plain feel comfortable& they just feel right.

Feeling right and getting the music right is the key to the Sapphire III.  No matter if playing delicate classical works or playing hard rock at deafening levels the Sapphires impart so little character of their own that the music flows through as a fresh breeze through an open window.  As example I have two recordings on the DMP label featuring the Lynne Arriale Trio.  On the album "With Words Unspoken" (DMP CD-518) every subtle nuance of the trios performance flows past my system right on though to the listener with an energetic rhythm and pace.   Most notable as in the midrange where a wealth of inner detail and tactile sense of "you are there" detail commands your attention to the music.  The Sapphire III does very well when the music becomes complex bringing to the forefront what other loudspeakers often "gloss over".  I took notice of this characteristic when playing The Pat Metheny Groups "Imaginary Day" (Warner Brothers 9 46791-2)& in particular on track 2 my reference system glossed over the inner detail as the composition becomes more and more complex here complexity has met its match.

Bruce Dunlap, 'About Home'I use a number of CDs on the Chesky Records label as a tool to demonstrate transparency and imaging.  Ahhhh I was in for a treat!  A favorite of mine is the Tesuque track from the Bruce Dunlap release "About Home" (Chesky JD59) where imaging is a transparent sonic portrait of the recording itself.  The higher registers are always kept at bay with a flawless balance of "sweetness" and a polite wisp of "air" just as the musical source demands.  Here is a loudspeaker system that truly defines the term neutral.   Actually neutral and revealing with just a hint of "politeness" which allowed me to play such sonic assaults as Guns N Roses "Appetite for Destruction" Geffen (9 24148-2) without cringing!  While we are into the hard rock vault, I was pleased to plainly hear the sonic improvement revealed in the current 20-bit re-release of Aerosmiths "Toys in the Attic" (Columbia CK 57362) over the previous CK 33479 issue from years back.

Bass performance is a subject in itself and an example of how conservatively ACI rates the Sapphires.  While the anechoic bass cutoff point is advertised as 64Hz, I was delighted to find clean and usable bass extending a full octave lower!  Through the use of the first Stereophile Test CD (STPH-002-2) and the included bass extension test section I found the low bass to extend smoothly to 32Hz!   While I conclude that this is due much in part to my room acoustics I am still impressed at this find.  The key here appears to be a combination of a gentle bass roll-off of the Sapphire III combined with room boundary effects.  The result is a beautifully balanced and satisfying bass performance when driven full range.  Let me be clear on a point here if you are going to listen to organ works with the Sapphire III, you are best to use a subwoofer however a great number of audiophiles will be pleased without.  I did not have to resort to a "monster amp" here while an Adcom GFA-5800 was used a great deal of the time during auditioning, the modest 40 watts per channel provided by my Golden Tube Audio SE-40 was more than ample for all but the most demanding volume levels.

Aerosmith, 'Toys In The Attic'Ah - so you want the most demanding volume levels?   Listen up (and volume up!) as the Sapphire III has been designed to complement ACIs highly acclaimed Titan powered sub-woofer.  As it happens I have owned a Titan sub-woofer for a number of years and made good use of it here.  Using a 65Hz high-pass filter (available from ACI) between my preamplifier and power amplifier, the result is having the best of both worlds.  The sum is a loudspeaker combination that combines a delightful "just right" sound quality along with "move the house off the foundation" authority!  At the most demanding volume levels, the Sapphire III remains utterly unruffled and retains a very palpable grasp though the music while the combination provides bass extension that will leave a smile on your face.   Clearly a choice of using the Sapphire III with or without a powered subwoofer is a matter of room size and musical demands, happily both options work exceptionally well.

Speaking of options that work well lets focus on options that look well.  No photograph can do justice to the fine cabinet finish and craftsmanship that goes into the Sapphire III and Titan subwoofer.  Available in natural oak, black oak and natural cherry with a lustrous satin lacquer finish that is absolutely first rate.



The ACI Sapphire III is a truly outstanding loudspeaker in my opinion it is the reference for what a $1000 monitor loudspeaker can be.  Quite a statement indeed& but the Sapphire III is quite a loudspeaker to be reckoned with!  A key to the incredible value of the Sapphire III is that they are sold directly from the manufacturer a trend that has caught on more and more over the past several years and for good reason.  Here is a loudspeaker that competes head to head with the best of contenders at twice the price with musical reproduction that is indeed "just right".

Quite a statement Quite a loudspeaker!



More information about ACI products can be found at the Official ACI Web Site.

Audio Concepts Incorporated
901 South 4th Street
P.O. Box 212
La Crosse, WI 54601
Voice : 608-784-4570
Fax : 609-784-6367

Text Alan L. Maier; HTML SMR Home Theatre and Images SMR Home Theatre & ACI cannot be reproduced without permission.

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Last updated 23 March, 1998

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