Pros / These speakers were the best performers in our movie test.
Cons / They need to be paired with an amplifier capable of handling a 4 ohm impedance load, which eliminates most entry-level AV receivers.
Verdict / The Emotiva T1 performed fantastically in both of our listening tests. This is the best-sounding pair of speakers for less than $900.
The Emotiva Airmotiv T1 are impressive floor standing speakers. They produced an open and natural sound in our movie and music listening tests, and their innovative, compact cabinet design makes them a good fit for any size theater room. The Q Acoustics 3050 slightly outperformed the T1 speakers, but they impressed us during our movie listening tests.
Based on manufacturer specifications, the Emotiva towers have the narrowest frequency response range of any speakers we tested. The company claims the speakers produce frequencies as low as 37 Hz and as high as 28 kHz. Normally, a narrow frequency response has a negative effect on sound quality; however, the T1 speakers showed no signs of frequency discrepancy in either of our tests. That is an indication of their quality design and the efficiency of their housing.
These speakers yielded the best results in our movie listening test. In this test, we played a clip from “Mad Max: Fury Road” for a panel of evaluators, then surveyed them about what they heard. We chose this movie because of its wide variety of audio content during the action-packed chase scenes. The 6-inch woven-fiber woofers were rated by our diverse group as the best at reproducing the growling low-frequency sounds during the chase scenes – that means the T1s outperformed all the speakers in our review with 8-inch woofers, which is surprising.
The Emotiva T1 towers also performed well in our music tests. Its accurate ribbon tweeter and woven-fiber 5.25-inch midrange driver delivered accurate and neutral vocals in every genre of music we listened to. We tested the low-frequency response quality by playing some electronic music with deep synth bass. The pair of 6-inch woofers had a slight bit of trouble recreating the lowest frequencies in those songs, but it was minor enough that we wouldn’t have noticed had we not been comparing them side-by-side with speakers that have larger woofers.
The Airmotiv T1 speakers have a 4 ohm impedance rating, which makes them tricky to pair with a receiver or amplifier – these are the only speakers we tested that are setup to receive this load. A good way to tell if an amplifier or AV receiver is compatible with a 4 ohm speaker is to see if the manufacturer lists power ratings for both 8 and 4 ohm speakers.
These speakers need to be powered by an AV receiver or amplifier capable of delivering 150 watts at 4 ohms, which is a power rating you can expect from a midlevel AV receiver. We don’t suggest pairing the T1s with an amplifier that cannot handle a 4 ohm load because it won’t be able to supply the speakers with enough power, which could lead to amplifier failure, speaker failure or both.
The Emotiva T1 have a three-way design with four total speakers. There are two 6-inch woven-fiber woofers, a 5.25-inch woven-fiber midrange driver and a folded ribbon tweeter. This is the only model we tested with a ribbon tweeter. This accurate, neutral driver produced some of the best high-frequency and midrange content in both of our listening tests.
The retail packaging includes adjustable spiked footers and rubber feet, so you can safely place these speakers on any type of flooring. The black speaker grill is made of cloth and attaches securely with powerful magnets. We suggest removing the grill cloth for optimum sound, but it can prevent damage if you have small children who may feel like poking their fingers into your speakers.
The Emotiva Airmotiv T1 were the best-sounding speakers in our movie test. Besides needing to pair them with an amplifier that can handle a 4 ohm load, it is hard to find a fault in their design or the sound emanating from the cabinet. We are surprised that Emotiva can offer a pair of speakers that are this high quality for less than $700.