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This review first appeared in the March 2014 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of Neat Acoustics
in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Neat Acoustics - Ed.

Reviewer: Markus Sauer
Sources: Digital -
Heed Obelisk DT & DA; analogue - Garrard 401 with Loricraft plinth, Alphason HR100S arm, Ortofon Windfeld cart, Loricraft The Missing Link phono stage
Amplification: Ayre K-5xeMP preamp, Symasym and Ncore power amps, Naim Nait XS integrated
Loudspeakers: JBL LSR 6332, ATC SCM25A
Review component retail: €2’350/pr

There are speakers whose starting place is error avoidance – linear on-axis response, low distortion… the bones of the speaker cookbook. And then there are speakers whose designers seem keen to convey on the listener a musical and sonic experience. That’s the sort the Neat Motive SX1 is. That it solves problems too we’ll still get to.

Let's start with a bit of history. In the 80s Neat’s owner Bob Surgeoner began to beef up his irregular income as a London musician with hifi and pro audio sales. When in 1989 he moved back to his home county of Durham, he hung a shingle there as North Eastern Audio Traders whose initials promptly christened his first speaker a bit later. He’s still a performing musician (see here) and with his R&D partner Paul Ryder has cut recordings in their own studio to help voice his speakers.

The pater familias of the Motive range showed up by 2005. Until then and by Surgeoner’s own measure, Neat speakers were very demanding of ancillaries and setup. With the Motive models he wanted good looks, easy living room integration and top performance without putting the hurt on partnering gear.

The SX versions of the Motive series differ from their predecessors (the middle Motive 2SE model impressed our Jochen Reinecke* as a successful mix of nuance and fun) foremost with the new SXT tweeter. That’s an inverted dome, i.e. concave rather than convex, and said to excel at very linear off-axis response plus make for a hand-in-glove match with the Peerless mid/woofers.

In Surgeoner’s world the tweeter makes the speaker. With the new SX model he meant to keep the powerful magnet and narrow magnetic cap of the original since those factors determined the liveliness of the Motive range. But he was looking for a diaphragm with a smoother response than the previous Titanium job. Neat experimented with magnesium alloys, textiles and anodized aluminium. The latter became the favourite by quite the lead. The enclosures were revisited too and reinforced. With the SX1 the top 134mm mid/woofer sees a sealed enclosure. The lower mate works in its own space which vents towards the floor and at 80Hz starts to fade out at a shallow 6dB/octave. You might think of this as a quasi sealed two-way with integrated ‘sub’woofer [or a 2.5-way – Ed]. The box rises above its plinth on four installed spikes which set the port’s slot-loading distance from the floor. The box also leans back slightly. This aims the drivers up a bit which Surgeoner feels better integrates the sound with the room.

* Here's a prior syndicated fairaudio review of Neat's Ultimatum XL6.