The 6.5" 2-way separate set of AI-Sonic's most affordable S1 model series, which represents Ylivieska design, has a recommended price of 149 euros. In terms of its price, it ranks in the upper category of affordable separate sets. It's interesting to hear what kind of sound this novelty, which can also be adapted to coaxial, offers!
Text and pictures: Janne Soilakari
AI-Sonic is the own brand of AI Group from Ylyvieska. The design of the products takes place in Finland, even though the goods come from where the vast majority of the world's car hi-fi comes from, i.e. the Far East. There are four collections in total, and this series I am testing now represents the cheapest of them, i.e. the S1 series.
The recommended price of the speaker set is 149 euros, which means that it is quite a lot for the most affordable 6.5" 2-way set in the collection - especially if you compare the price to the most affordable sets of the same size from competing brands. However, the S1-CX6.2 is more than just a stand-alone series. Namely, it also bends to a coaxial shape, which means that the treble elements can be installed in place of the mid-bass phase plug-in with the help of the included parts. In light of this information, a higher Recommended Price by a degree is justified.
Next, let's go through the contents of the product package by component.
The model name of the treble elements of the series is AI-Sonic S1-T20. These are physically very small elements equipped with a 20mm silk cap made in Japan. The membrane of the element is protected by a black metal grid and the briskly long speaker cable is a fixed model. The structure is very traditional in a good way. Technically, the elements of the reviews seem valid, and there is nothing to complain about in the finish, considering the price category.
The trebles are supplied with the already mentioned adapters necessary for coaxial installation, with which the elements are attached instead of the removable phase plugs of the mid-bass. The operation is quite simple and requires the removal of one screw, as well as a little dexterity in "dismantling" the treble. The really practical instruction manual that comes with it guides you well here.
In addition, the package also includes black plastic surface mounting adapters, with which the element can be positioned directly in line with the surface or slightly oriented. There is also a small bag of fixing needs.
The manufacturer says that the material of the cones of the AI Sonic S1-W6 midbass elements is paper composite, i.e. a certain kind of reinforced paper cone. This is a traditional and proven material option. The upper suspension is butyl rubber and the frame is powder-coated sheet metal. The magnet is ferrite and has a removable rubber protective cup on top. Speaker cable connectors are basic flat models. The element itself has a very small metal-core splitter coil attached, which achieves 6 dB / oct. low pass filter.
The technical quality and finish of the midbass are at a level suitable for this price range. No frills, but everything is done well enough.
As mentioned, the crossover filters for the mid-bass are attached to the elements themselves. The trebles, on the other hand, will have separate 12 dB octaves installed in soft rubber cases with a removable cover. filters. Inside the case there is a proper plastic-insulated capacitor and a small-sized air-core coil, and in addition a resistor that provides -3 dB level control.
There are small screw-clamp terminals for speaker cables, for which a 1.5 square meter cable is best suited (a 2.5 square meter one works with a little art). Of course, even larger terminals by a degree could have been fitted without significantly increasing the physical size of the filter housings. But even these will do. However, the point has been that the filters are installed in the car's original cabling. Considering the installation inside the door panel, the rubber housings for the dividers are a resourceful choice. They are unlikely to cause at least any resonance effects.
The instruction book included in the package has quite valid basic instructions for adjusting the level of the treble elements. As a rule of thumb, the -3 dB setting is used for direct (on axis) orientation, and the 0 dB setting for indirect orientation (off axis). For upward installation in the corners of the dashboard, the instruction manual advises to try reversing the phase of the elements.
Before the listening test, the series got a few hours of brisk running-in. The list of music pieces used in the listening evaluation can be found attached.
At the beginning of the listening session, I tried lowering the treble level using the splitter jumper, because the elements were aimed directly at the listener (in fact, the splitter reads +3 dB and the manual says -3 dB). I tested which information is correct, and the markings of the dividers seemed to be correct to the extent that the +3 setting emphasized the treble (so this is the "correct" zero level). However, there is no actual emphasis in passive filters, but it still becomes clear. Based on a small test listening, I decided to finish the listening evaluation with a setting of 0 dB (ie -3 in reality), as the instructions recommend.
At first, I listen to Mikko Kuustonen's song through a few times. Fingers meet the laptop keyboard, but no notes are created. This is due to the fact that the first sounds of the speaker series don't really give a grip, at least in a negative sense. Which is of course a good thing. The sound is quite clean and really non-irritating. At the same time, though, also a bit "boring". However, the above is not a mere reproach, because the somewhat boring initial feeling often rewards in longer listening sessions, and turns out to be more of a "neutrality".
The singer's sound is uncolored and, in my opinion, in this price category, the balance is rarely right. In the upper register of the middle range, judging by the eardrum, there is, however, a very small wide-area emphasis. In general, this is not a bad thing at all, because it brings a suitable light "aggression" to the sound. The effect is just right, because it doesn't jump out at the ears even with the song's chorus, which is often quite sensitive to revealing accents.
At Junior Wells, the going is nice and energetic. The upper kick of the mid-bass end is very precise, the lower section is impossible to come by. It may also be due to the short-circuiting of the elements. If and when the equipment includes a separate subwoofer, there will certainly be no problems. The treble is quite inconspicuous. It takes care of its plot just fine and doesn't irritate you, which is always a plus worth mentioning for an affordable series. However, there is a small hiss in the upper frequencies and the accuracy is not quite the best possible level. However, it is by no means bad, especially when you consider the recommended price of the set.
Rammstein and the traditional lock test. Yes, enough sound comes out of these for all reasonable hi-fi listening, that must be stated right away. At a higher volume, the mid-bass end is clearly rounded, which is a problem with many cheaper and lighter elements. At this point, though, we already know the comfort limit of listening anyway. And now I'm talking about listening inside the car. Demos separately, there are optimal devices for that. This set is purely a hi-fi set. And for a price of less than 150 euros, not a fatter one at all.
With the Cosmic Hip, the treble end gives a pretty good picture of itself. There is that little bit of noise I mentioned earlier, but there is also a distinction. In a song, the drummer's drum touches are a good evaluation tool for this. I could imagine listening to a more valuable product, even quite easily.
Janita's singer's sound is right for the times. The relevant nasals are included and the tone is as I think it should be. The reproduction of the middle range of this set is quite decent, although the tonality could be a bit more at times. In addition, the already mentioned upper mid-bass and its accuracy must be mentioned again. It taps well and the tracking is fine.
With Nils' song, the series is quite well in its own area. You don't need terrible things from a bass player, but bringing out the nuances works. There's just a hint of heat that doesn't belong in this song. This is admittedly quite minor, but still...
Then the most expected part, i.e. Nightwish and hard! Well, yeah... Now that little emphasis or shyness in the upper middle is rearing its head a bit. A guitar recorded hard and tight is not a pleasure to listen to. At a slightly more moderate volume level, it's quite comfortable. However, it is not in its own territory with this music.
Overall rating for listening: 8+
The pros and cons:
- + Really sharp and clearly toned midrange
- + The upper mid-bass kicks hard and effortlessly
+/- The treble head is moderately good for this price range
- - The reproduction of the mid-bass end is clearly rounded with a loud sound, it is not a set for a lust-locker
AI-Sonic's cheapest stand-alone set is a very good product for its price and gives Takuu value for money for SQ hifis looking for a budget set. The best part is the really sharp and toned reproduction of the middle range, which is at its best especially on slightly calmer songs. The tighter produced metal music was not the specific area of this series.
If this set is compared to other 6.5" 2-way sets on the market under 150 euros, then we are at the forefront, that's clear. But are we at the cutting edge? It depends a little on opinions and emphasis, but let's say that some other really tough series can be found for the same money. From the customer's point of view, the situation is of course good, because there is plenty of choice. AI-Sonic S1-CX6.2 is definitely one option to consider.
Music material used for listening:
- Mikko Kuustonen: Abracadabra
- Junior Wells: Sweet Sixteen
- Rammstein: Marry me
- Bela Fleck & The Flecktones: Flight of the Cosmic Hippo
- Janita: Shades
- Nils Löfgren: Keith Don't Go
- Nightwish: Crimson Tide / Deep Blue Sea
- Nightwish: Sacrament of Wilderness
Technical data and importer's contact information:
- AI-Sonic S1-CX6.2
- Recommended price: 149 euros
- Importer: AI Group
- Phone: 0207-699 860
- On the Internet: www.aigroup.fi
- General information
- Tehonkesto: 60 W RMS
- Sensitivity: 88 dB (1 W/1 m)
- Impedance: 4 ohms.
- Playback range: 40 Hz – 25 KHz
- Model: AI-Sonic S1-T20
- Immersion depth: 8.7 mm
- Total diameter: 36 mm
- Installation diameter: 33 mm
- Cone: 20 mm silk cap
- Fs value: 1.4 KHz
- Model: AI Sonic S1-W6
- Installation depth: 63 mm
- Installation diameter: 143 mm
- Overall diameter: 166 mm
- Cone: Paper composite
- Frame: Sheet metal (powder coated to prevent corrosion)
- Magnet: Ferrite
- Fs value: 64 Hz
- Qts value: 0.8
- Vas value: 14.5 l
- Separate crossover filter
- Dimensions: 127 x 31.5 x 22.3 mm
- Connectors: Screw terminals for bare cable
- Division slope: 12 dB oct. @ 4.9KHz
- Other: Separate crossover filters for treble only, incl. two-stage 0/-3 dB level adjustment by means of a jumper. For mid-bass, a small low-pass coil attached to the element (6 dB oct.)