Biggie Small: AktiMate Micro Active Speakers
Bringing it all back home
On my desktop sitting 30 inches from my ears the Micros were just as good as I remembered them in Denver. Neutrality was their biggest asset, the tonal balance was nice and smooth, and Todd Garfinkle's 100 percent uncompressed solo piano CD of Milcho Leviev, "The Man from Plovdiv," recorded in Harmony Hall in Matsumoto, Japan was a sonic spectacular. The Micros perfectly revealed the subtlest gradations of Leviev's touch, midrange clarity was superb and extended to the deep, totally natural reverberation of the hall, but the bass felt a tad lightweight. The Micros started to run out of juice around 60 Hertz, which is about average for desktop speakers of this size. The speakers sound best at soft to moderate volume levels, the sound hardened when I nudged the volume up.
AktiMate is owned by Epoz, an Australian company with an engineering team in China that works directly with the manufacturing plant. The MDF cabinets are painted, and my samples looked snazzy in red, but black and white Micros are also available. The Micros have a proprietary 4-inch Kevlar woofer and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter, derived from an Epos tweeter (Epoz distributes Epos in Australia). The Micros' back panels have a slot/port, and the desktop friendly design measures a tidy 5.7 x 7.87 x 9.45 inches. They sell for $499 a pair.
The left speaker houses an AktiMate designed stereo 40 watt Class D amp that powers both speakers, stereo analog 3.5mm input and a USB input, and on the front baffle, an input selector and rotary volume control. The built-in DAC, a Texas Instruments PCM2704, tops out at 16-bit/48-kHz audio, but you can always use an external DAC, like my Schiit Bifrost, to play higher resolution files over the Micros. The top of the speaker also has a flip open panel that reveals a 30-pin docking connector compatible with most iPhones and iPods, but not the latest Apple devices with the Lightning connector. The right speaker is passive and just has a pair of all-metal binding posts.
The Micros' DAC was good enough, but I did the bulk of my desktop listening with the Bifrost, the biggest improvements were soundstage depth, dynamic punch and life. The Micros' smooth sound and neutral tonal balance flatters most music genres, but bass heavy music felt a tad lightweight. The bass was there, and definition was quite nice, but impact and drive aren't strong suits.