Accuracy, Articulation, Detail in a “Studio-Designed” Monitor

A joint development effort from APS and TEC Award-winning studio designer Troy Germano, the AEON 2 is a biamped two-way system employing a 7-inch bass/mid driver and a 3/4-inch fabric-dome tweeter. Each AEON 2 utilizes a pair of class AB amplifiers, one producing 200 watts for the LF driver, the other generating 100 watts for the HF driver. Frequency response is stated as 38 Hz to 33 kHz ±2 dB, and the speaker is capable of delivering peaks up to 112 dB SPL. The AEON 2 is intended for vertical placement in the near-field. So those are the basics.

Mix received a pair of AEON 2s in a pearl white finish that would make a high-end auto manufacturer jealous. Drivers are vertically centered and mounted flush to the front panel, which is curved to reduce diffraction and features a slotted port at the bottom.

An APS logo at the top right of the front panel turns on briefly when the speakers are powered up, and then extinguishes; I’d like to see the indicator remain lit when the speaker is powered. Rear-panel features include a Combo input and XLR output jacks, volume control, IEC port and power switch, a ground lift switch, and a series of controls for trimming the speaker’s response.

Frequency response of the AEON 2’s tweeter can be set flat or ±1.5 dB, while a woofer EQ switch at 80 Hz offers flat, -1.5 or -3 dB options. A three-position bass mode switch modifies the LF response.

APS AEON 2 monitor

APS Germano Acoustics AEON 2

The Active position extends bass to 38 Hz with a gradual roll-off from 38 Hz down to 33 Hz, ±2 dB. The Passive setting produces a gradual roll-off from 58 Hz down to 33 Hz, ±2 dB and is intended for use with a subwoofer. Roll Off is designed to emulate the sound of a small speaker, implementing a gradual roll-off from 110 Hz down to 33 Hz, ±2 dB. This setting can also be used in conjunction with a subwoofer. For the review, this switch was set to the Active position so that the AEON 2 could be evaluated on its own merits.

I installed the AEON 2s in my control room in the usual spot atop a pair of stands on either side of the desk, approximately five feet apart, tweeters at ear level. The rear panels were roughly two feet away from the front wall. To become familiar with the speakers, I listened to mixes I had done or was still working on, as well as some familiar recordings.

Related: Troy Germano Talks New York City, by Tom Kenny, Oct. 18, 2017

In my control room the AEON 2 was a hair on the bright side, and my first mixes made using them were a bit dull when played on other systems. Setting the tweeter control to -1.5 dB was the perfect remedy. I immediately noticed that the AEON 2s can resolve detail and low-level sounds that other monitors miss. Listening to mixes I had done a few years ago, I thought, “Oh, I forgot about that (instrument/part).” Self-noise was a hair higher than the previous monitors I had installed (JBL 705Ps) but was noticeable only when the room was otherwise silent.

Time for some mixing and tracking.

The first track I mixed was an unplugged version of a rock song with two acoustic guitars, lead vocal, backing vocal and percussion. Getting the balance between voice and guitar was easy, and it soon became apparent that this was a major strength of the AEON 2. Just about every mix I created had the timbre and level of the lead vocal “right” when I played them on other listening systems.

APS AEON 2 monitor, rear

On this first mix, the acoustic guitars were a bit big in the bottom end when the mix traveled, at least more than was apparent in my control room. I felt like if I could tilt the woofer EQ up a few dB I could have compensated for this issue, but the woofer EQ offers only options for cut.

My next mix was by a pop band fronted by a female vocal with bass, drums, electric guitar, mandolin, and a few backing vocals. This mix came out great, the AEON 2s making it easy for me to float the lead vocal in front of the band. I found that when I listened on other systems, the balance between instruments was exactly as I expected, including proportions of reverbs and delays on snare or lead vocal, respectively. Articulation between bass and kick drum was clear yet coherent.

I ran into a surprise when mixing one song by a metal band that started with a low B on the electric bass. The AEON 2s really couldn’t get down low enough to voice that note, so when I listened to the mix on other systems that could reach down that low, the bottom end was overwhelming. Given that the frequency of a low B is around 30 Hz, and that the response of the AEON 2 is rated down to 38 Hz I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Using a Phonic PAA6 to measure RTA showed that the response of the AEON 2 drops off pretty quickly below 40 Hz (as stated), and there’s not much usable output below about 35 Hz—still very respectable for a speaker with the AEON 2’s footprint. Perhaps Germano Acoustics has a subwoofer in the works for us.

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Another strength of the AEON 2s is that they sound consistent regardless of volume level. Some speakers need to be pushed a little to get going, but the timbre of the AEON 2s didn’t change much (if at all) whether I was playing them at SPLs in the mid-80s (most of the time) or cranking them up to 100 dB for a drum tracking session. I never saw the front panel LEDs indicate limiting on the tweeter or the woofer, though I did notice that the speakers run hot—which seems to be a trend these days with active monitors.

My time living with the APS Germano AEON 2 was brief but enjoyable and productive. Every mix I did on the AEON 2s had the correct vocal balance, which is a huge strength, and in general I was able to quickly create mixes that translated well on other systems.

AEON 2s don’t generate the kind of bottom end that will rock your world, so if you’re looking to booty-shake a large control room, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for accuracy, detail and articulation—particularly in the critical midrange—you definitely want to hear the AEON 2s.

Product Summary

Company: APS Germano Acoustics

Product: AEON 2

Website: www.aps-company.com

Price: $3,699.00/pair

Pros: Excellent resolution and detail; very accurate midrange reproduction; easy learning curve

Cons: Not much bass response below 40 Hz, expensive

The Studio-Manufacturer Link

Studio owner, studio designer and now product designer Troy Germano explains Germano Studios’ collaboration with APS.

“Matthew Sim, one of my staff mixing engineers here at Germano Studios, had built a relationship with one of the principals from APS back in 2015. We discussed the idea of trying numerous APS speakers here, and after a year of working with their AEON 1s, Klasiks and Trinity monitors, we asked APS if they would be interested in collaborating on a superior studio-ready speaker that we would feel comfortable sharing with our clients.

"APS said yes, so I met Ray Stodolny in London, and after 18 months of extensive testing, designing and listening to four different prototypes, we had our first production pair. Ray drove from Wrzesnia, Poland, and showed me the first pair in Frankfurt, Germany, during the 2017 Musikmesse convention. We released the actual production monitors to the market in September 2017, and we are off to a successful start. Alto Music is our U.S. distributor via Black Lion Distribution, and sales are steadily increasing around the world.

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“We are known at Germano Studios for our unparalleled monitoring systems and our choices of near- and midfield speakers. Producers and engineers are more demanding than ever, and we felt the timing was right to bring these monitors to the professionals we work with every day.

"Our custom Exigy S412G large monitoring systems in each of the studios are the benchmark by which we base many critical listening decisions. The new APS AEON 2s complement the Exigys quite well, plus they relate seamlessly to our Yamaha NS-10Ms. This trio of monitors are consistently used on most of our sessions. We wanted to share this sonic experience with everyone, not just our clientele, thus the introduction of the APS Germano Acoustics AEON 2.”