The original AE1 introduced new techniques in almost every element of its design and construction, each one aimed at making a better nearfield monitor. It was, for example, the first professional monitor with a ceramic sandwich aluminium cone, the first to increase power handling by using the cone as a heat-sink, the first to incorporate a metal dome tweeter, the first to feature a latex fibre/powder composite lined cabinet, and the first to demonstrate beyond doubt that a seriously small speaker could be a seriously capable monitor.
The AE1 technical highlights feature in the Classic just as they did in the original. The bass/midrange driver is UK manufactured in-house at Acoustic Energy using a spun aluminium cone only 0.3mm thick. The cone is hard anodised on both sides to create an immensely rigid sandwich component and then bonded to an aluminium voice-coil former. The intimate bond between metal former and cone means that the entire cone area is used for heat dissipation. As a result, and despite its small dimensions, the AE1 driver offers generous power handling and suffers minimal compression.
Welcome though it is, power handling is not the primary reason for the choice of an aluminium cone. Aluminium's combination of light weight and rigidity means that cone break-up is delayed till well above the crossover frequency. And thanks to the aluminium cone, bass/mid driver and magnesium dome tweeter, the AE1 Classic is one of very few speakers of any type that can genuinely claim pistonic operation over the full audio bandwidth. The result is extraordinary tonal accuracy that reveals the shortcomings of most other monitors. Near ideal drive unit performance however would mean little if the AE1's cabinet panels sang along in sympathy. That they don't is thanks both to the inherent rigidity of the AE1 construction and to the unique latex composite lining of the internal walls.