Aperion Audio MKII Planar-Magnetic Flat Ribbon Super Tweeter - Extend That High-End! Full Review!

Manufacturer & Model
Aperion Audio MKII Super Tweeter
MSRP
$349 (pair) (Gloss Oak $369.00 per pair)
Link
https://www.aperionaudio.com/collections/speakers/products/aperionaudio-planar-magnetic-ribbon-super-tweeter-speaker?variant=37567189057736
Highlights
High-Fidelity Planar-Magnetic Flat Ribbon Tweeter
Four Finish Choices
Frequency Response up to 40 kHz
5 Adjustable crossover points + OFF
Up to -5 dB Treble Level Adjust Knob
5-way gold-plated binding posts
3-year Warranty
Summary
A well put together Super-Tweeter add-on. Great for extending the range of your existing speaker or breathing new life into old speakers that may be lacking an extended upper frequency range. Adjustable crossover and attenuation options allows easy matching to a wide range of speakers.
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The Review

I’ve actually considered the Aperion Audio MKII Super Tweeters for purchase in the past.

My BG FS520 speakers occupied the front channels of my system for nigh on 12 years. The FS520 is a floor standing two-way system that features two 6.5” conventional woofers and a 50” planar ribbon midrange/tweeter. While I loved the BG’s sound, especially the smoothness and warmth, I had always thought they were a bit shy on high-end energy. Later, measurements confirmed that indeed the BG’s had very little extension beyond 14kHz, so I considered adding a super tweeter as a possible solution.

Then, about two years ago, before I could act on adding super tweeters, one of the BG’s stopped working. I replaced them with a pair of the GoldenEar Triton One.R and never looked back, promptly forgetting about the super tweeter idea. I was able to implement a repair on the BG’s early in 2020 but left them out of service in favor of the, simply better all-around performing, Triton’s.

Reviewing the Aperion MKII Planar-Magnetic Flat Ribbon Super Tweeter looked to be a great reason to experience the BG’s once again and so I said YES PLEASE!


Delivery Day

The speakers showed up via UPS Ground and were double boxed with a simple cardboard exterior and a nice printed box (11.5” x 8” x 7”) with a handle on top inside the “plain brown wrapper”.

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Inside the box, under a form-fitted closed-cell foam cap, were two carefully double-wrapped speakers sitting in another closed cell foam bottom piece. A two-page instruction manual in an envelope was the only other thing in the box.

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Packing materials appeared suitable and protective for this product.


First Impressions

I received the Satin Black finish for review. The fit, form, and finish were flawless in my samples. A Piano Gloss Black and a Satin White are also available at the same pricing ($349.00 per pair) as the black satin model. New this year, a beautiful new Gloss Oak finish is available for $369.00 per pair.

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The controls on the rear of the speaker appeared to be robust and functional. The gold-plated 5-way binding posts on the rear were substantial and the plating looked good.

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Construction and Design

As mentioned, form and fit on the speaker were perfect and the cabinet finish was flawless. The cabinet is a very solid rectangular enclosure made with ¾” MDF and has nice seamless, softly rounded side joins.

The tweeter is a Planar-Magnetic Flat Ribbon 1-1/8” x 2” driver and the assembly is mounted to a countersunk 2-7/8” x 4” Brushed Aluminum plate that occupies most of the front face of the cabinet. The Tweeter itself is contained in an integral closed back enclosure.

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The radiating surface of the tweeter is made up of aluminum foil strips captured between a 20μm ultra-low mass Kapton plastic membrane suspended in a strong magnetic field supplied by eight neodymium strip magnets in a three opposing five configuration.

The electro-magnetic field produced by the varying electrical current (Audio Signal) moving through the aluminum foil ribbons interacting with the fixed magnet field of the neodymium magnets causes the membrane to vibrate producing the sound.

Because of the extreme lightness of the non-magnetic foil suspended in the Kapton membrane, the transient response is quick. This “quickness”, in a properly designed Planar Ribbon speaker, gives it that characteristic light and airy sound signature that is a result of the accurate and lightning-fast transients produced.

There are other forces at work, of course. The flat rectangular radiating surface and the corresponding unique cylindrical radiating pattern produced by a Planar Ribbon device can help limit ceiling and floor reflections contributing to the overall sound, making it easier to place in many environments.

The rear of the cabinet has a narrower, countersunk 2” x 4-¼” brushed Aluminum plate that holds the Binding Posts along with the Crossover/Off and 0dB to -5dB attenuator rotary switches. All positions on both selectors are clearly marked and have good solid detents that click into place.

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The crossover, itself, is a nice soft 6dB per octave slope that aids with the integration and blending with the tweeter of the host speaker. The crossover points are at 8KHz, 10KHz, 12KHz, 14KHz and 16KHz. There is also a convenient “Off” detent on the crossover selector switch. The crossover is designed using a network of non-inductive resisters and film capacitors. The resistive impedance was designed to provide an “amp friendly” load across the operating frequency range of the tweeter. The crossover was also designed to provide a linear phase response providing a time coherent output for improved soundstage and imaging.

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The inside of the speaker is nice and neatly laid out with a short ribbon cable connecting the PCB mounted selector switches and the crossover PCB.

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Each of the small, 5.27" x 4" x 5" / 134mm x 102mm x 127mm (H x W x D), 1.65lbs cabinets are meant to be placed on top of a host speaker using four small rubber feet to protect the host speaker’s finish and provide a good grip to prevent cabinet slide/skating.

The five-way, gold-plated binding posts appear robust and are mounted using insulated feed throughs on the brushed Aluminum rear panel.


Set-Up


Set-up was simple. There is limited real estate atop the slender BG speakers, so I had to get a bit creative with a non-destructive mounting solution. I used some 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips on the bottom of the super tweeter and the narrow top of the FS520. The 3M product has a kind of Velcro-like interlocking system, so once pressure is applied you hear a satisfying “click” as the two sections join together. When done you simply pull the tab on each strip and they release without leaving any residue behind to mar either surface.

Ideally, the front radiating surface of the actual tweeter would align with the radiating surface of the host speaker tweeter to ensure the best time domain matching. But because of the limited real estate on the top of my speaker I had a bit of a mismatch in alignment and the Aperion tweeter hung slightly to the front of the 50” ribbon driver in the BG.

Because of the height of the BG FS520 speaker, I placed a pencil under the back of the Aperion super tweeter to hike it up just a bit and angle it more toward the listening area. I then placed two small pieces of double-sided tape on each side as an additional security/peace-of-mind option.

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Connection was straight forward. I created a pair of 6.5’ jumpers using Belden 10ga speaker wire with locking banana plugs on both ends, and ran the jumper from the host speaker to the super tweeter binding posts and I was ready to go.

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When all was connected and verified, I ran Audyssey room correction using the Marantz/Audyssey MultiEQ Curve Editor App. After the app was through doing its thing, I limited the Audyssey correction range to affect only 300Hz and below.


Measurements

Aperion supplies a frequency curve at two crossover points using an undisclosed bookshelf speaker as an example showing the effect on the response curve when adding the super tweeters. I’m assuming the attenuator was set at 0dB for the testing.

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I decided to do a little more investigating on my own. Below are a set of curves at each crossover point at three different attenuation settings. I wanted to do this to see if there is any interference/cancellation at the point where the host speaker and the super tweeter clearly overlap in coverage. Most of my measurements, unless indicated, were taken from the listening position with Audyssey correction limited to 300Hz and below.

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One more! Below is the Aperion MKII Super Tweeter measured at one meter from 6KHz to 24KHz. That is slightly above the frequency range that my MiniDSP UMIK-1 is rated to accommodate, and as far as I could coax REW to provide a sweep output. Even with equipment limitations, measurements showed the tweeters extend the frequency response considerably further than anyone, with the possible exception of the Wolfman, can hear!

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Listening

I picked out some of my favorite tunes for the listening tests, choosing music that I thought contained a nice extended high-end and a good representation of that sometimes-elusive sound quality…. “AIR!”. Of course, most of these recordings are artificially created spaces built and enhanced in the studio with EQ, panning (Placement), phase trickery, delays and reverb to give a sense of space and air. But some recordings are just better at presenting those studio enhancements to the speakers and making the feeling of space and air more palpable and believable.

I determined I would listen with the Aperion shut off… and then re-listen with the super tweeters on and set at 14K crossover and 0dB attenuation settings (a setting I had determined sounded best to me overall).

Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour – Harlequin – 1985 – GRP Records (CD)
Well produced and recorded, it has a wonderful open and big sound with an expansive soundstage.

With the Aperion MKII Super Tweeters engaged, the presentation became much “airier” and more open. The cymbals and subtle percussion touches were more evident. The “space” just seemed bigger and more expansive. The vocals by Ivan Lin on the three tunes with vocals were clearer and more expansive with a nice edge and raspy-ness that was not evident without the Super Tweeters.


Simply Red – Picture Book – “Sad Old Red”, “Holding Back the Years” 1985 – Elektra (CD)
Another well-done recording from 1985. It is wide open and airy with an expansive studio soundstage.

With the Super Tweeter the soundstage was crisp and “airy”. Cymbals much more present and the snare drum had better “snap” and snare sizzle. Subtle cymbal “Bell” work was more noticeable and distinct.

Overall a better soundstage and sense of space.

Super tweeters off and the sound took on a more mellow and less immediate presentation. The open and “airy” space that was conveyed by the super tweeters now became more “rounded” and confined by comparison.


Alexandr Misko – Beyond the Box – 2017 (CD)
This 22-year-old from Russia makes a lot of music with his guitar! While this recording is not stellar, the final sound is open, atmospheric, and quite full for a single instrument.

With the super tweeters engaged the subtle overtones and harmonics of the acoustic guitar, produced by Alexandr’s unique fingerpicking style, were rich and satisfying. The sound was airy, light, and atmospheric. Percussive effects, all supplied by Misko while playing, were crisp with lots of snap and a sweet woody overtone.

Without the Super Tweeters the atmospherics shut down a bit and the soundstage became more confined with less edge and excitement.


Johann Sebastian Bach: 6 Brandenburg Concertos –– Helmuth Rilling Conducting - The Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra – Silva Concert Hall, Eugene, Oregon – 1994 (CD)

Nice clean concert hall sound in a performance center environment.

The Aperion tweeter units added space and air to the soundstage. The super tweeters also added lots of texture and layers of tonality to the strings and high-frequency wind instruments like flutes and piccolos. The surface sound of the violins gained a measure of that edginess that is inherent in a violin’s sound while other strings remained pure and woody sounding, even at their top end.

Turn the tweeters off and the sound became somewhat more confined and a bit lifeless for a concert space.


Movie and Video Sound

In every case the Aperion MKII Super Tweeters added something positive to the mix. Subtle atmospherics and cues were better and more noticeable with the super tweeters on, however I found older or poorly transferred soundtracks possessed a brightness that could be a bit much. Fortunately, there was an easy fix. Simply step to the back of the tweeter and either “turn it off” or “turn it down”. I found that I always preferred at least some level of energy from the super tweeters regardless of the material.


Summary and Closing Thoughts

The Aperion MKII Super Tweeters may be somewhat of a specialty item, but they are not a novelty item!Some speakers could just do with a bit more energy on the top end! The Aperion MKII Super Tweeters added a measure of crispness, air, and structure to every piece I played….. at least through my treble-shy BG speakers.

They gave those somewhat mellow BG FS520 speakers a good boost on the high-end where they are lacking. That restored energy opened up the sound, adding space and “air” where it was needed. Everything in the upper reaches benefited from this extension of the high-end. Cymbals and strings were much more present and better represented throughout.

Vocals were crisper with more presence. Different layering and tonality became more noticeable. Since the speakers operate in a frequency spectrum that is outside the range of most vocalists, I can only assume I was hearing some added harmonics in the mix that added an extra layer of richness to the sound.

Edgy instruments became edgier and more forward. Literally, everything had more “crispness,” “snap,” and “vibrancy!”.

The tweeters were definitely adding a bunch of “crispy” to movie soundtracks and, in some cases, I discovered why most calibration systems roll off the high frequencies a bit. But no worries! Too much? As said previously, just go to the back of the Super Tweeter and either “turn it off” or “turn it down.” Personally, I enjoyed the extra high frequencies the Aperion MKII’s brought to everything… including movies.

Aperion offers a three-year warranty on the Super Tweeters and five to ten years on most of their other speakers.

Adding this Super Tweeter to any speaker that lacks high-frequency energy could be a good investment. If you have an older speaker that you really love for many other reasons, but think/feel/know it lacks good upper-frequency extension, give this a try. You could fall in love with that speaker all over again!

The Aperion MKII Super Tweeters did just what they were supposed to do, and they did it well! What’s not to like about that?


Aperion Audio MKII Planar-Magnetic Flat Ribbon Super Tweeter
  • Product Weight: 1.65 lbs/0.75 Kg per each
  • Frequency Response: 8 kHz - 40 kHz
  • Crossover Points: 8K, 10K, 12K, 14K, 16K & off
  • Crossover Slope: 6 dB/octave
  • Impedance: 6 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB
  • Recommended Power: 10 - 100 Watts
  • Direct Power Handling: 20 Watts
  • Tweeter: Planar-magnetic "Flat Ribbon" Tweeter
  • Tweeter Thickness: 20µm
  • Product Dimensions: 5.27" x 4" x 5" / 134 x 102 x 127 (HxWxD)
  • Product Family: Super Tweeter
  • Placement Location: On top of host speaker
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 lbs/ 2 Kg per pair
  • Shipping Dimensions: 7" x 12" x 8"/180 x 302 x 206mm (LxWxH)
 
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Sonnie

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Wow... never knew there was such a thing. Very interesting.
 

Tom L.

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There are several different configurations and brands out there. There are many more opinions on their efficacy :T With my speakers I found them to work very well. Curiously, even though time domain-wise there must have been a slight mis-match because of the way I had to mount them, I never heard an issue or detected (or measured) any aberrations. Neat devices!
 

tnargs

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I thought the super tweeter fad had its day 20 years ago?

These days a nice $30 Vifa ring radiator XT25 tweeter reaches 40kHz with no concerns, and still performs normal tweeter duties.

IIRC super tweeters came into vogue when high-res digital music came along in formats like SACD and DVD-A. Why they didn’t endure or become de rigeur might be related to issues like the only thing audible about them being the negative effect they can cause below 20 kHz if the crossover and beaming mismatch with the normal tweeter.
 
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Tom L.

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Thanks for your comment. A very quick Google search shows 6 or 8 manufacturers of home system super tweeter devices still hanging in there along with numerous discussions for and against!

As said in my review I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of such issues with this device. This may be because the crossover is set to a very soft 6dB slope and the radiation pattern of a Planar Ribbon Tweeter is roughly a cylinder shape and not the cone or dome tweeter radiation pattern of 360 degrees in the vertical. The cylinder shape imparts less energy to the ceiling and to the floors where reflections can be more of an issue. certainly many cone style tweeters, and even some domes, will be more prone to “beaming “ than the PRT.

it could also be they were just a good match to the BG FS520 speakers I tested them with....

So while not for everyone, and not for every speaker, they do what is stated by the manufacturer, and very well could be an asset to speakers that are high frequency shy....
 

Tom L.

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While the 40KHz claim is fairly meaningless the Upper frequencies are still there for many folks :-)
 

NBPK402

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My horns are down 5db at 16.5k...not sure how much higher I can hear I wish I had a way to hear them before purchase.
 
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Tom L.

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I am not sure I can even hear that high anymore.
While the 40KHz claim is fairly meaningless the Upper frequencies are still there for many folks :-) Try an experiment using REW on good extended range speakers slowly stepping up 500 Hz at a time to find out your upper limits. A trip to the Audiologist can also be very Informative And surprising.

There is really not much musical content above 14k other than harmonics and ”presence” anyway.:redgrin:
 

Tom L.

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My horns are down 5db at 16.5k...not sure how much higher I can hear I wish I had a way to hear them befkre purchase.
My older BG‘s started down at 14.5K and were significantly down at 16.5K but still sounded good to me. I think timbre and tonality is more important that extension in many cases.
 

JStewart

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The more things change...

See page 21 of this 1979 Radio Shack catalog. (I was 20 and a store manager at the time.)

 

Tom L.

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Beauty! Love those Pioneer-esqueish wood lattice grilles on the speakers as well!
 

Grayson Dere

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Nice review, Tom! I remember seeing super-tweeter separates a while back from different companies. It's nice Aperion's super-tweeters have a great price for people that want to try it out : )
 

Tom L.

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Thanks Grayson! The Aperion MKII’s are great performers for the money and should work well for many that lack a little on the high end.

T
 

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Nice review @Tom L. There is something to be said about speakers that have speed at 20KHz and above... My Martin Logans ESLs go to
22KHz nicely... I call it Air and Sparkle... And can give one a Sense Of Venue... Even if you can't hear at that frequency you can sense it on your skin...

Nice find for a few hundred dollars...
 

Tom L.

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Nice review @Tom L. There is something to be said about speakers that have speed at 20KHz and above... My Martin Logans ESLs go to
22KHz nicely... I call it Air and Sparkle... And can give one a Sense Of Venue... Even if you can't hear at that frequency you can sense it on your skin...

Nice find for a few hundred dollars...
Thanks!

I found them to do just they claimed and they added that air and sparkle nicely to my rather mellow BG speakers!

Tom
 

Kakkadu

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Wow... never knew there was such a thing. Very interesting.
What's most interesting is that they were testing with CD:s which are sharply cut off at around 20khz. :greengrin:
Yes the 44,1khz sampling rate can in theory provide sound up to 22khz but because there are no perfect filters existing, most cd players cut off much much lower than 22khz in reality.
 
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Kakkadu

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Nice review @Tom L. There is something to be said about speakers that have speed at 20KHz and above... My Martin Logans ESLs go to
22KHz nicely... I call it Air and Sparkle... And can give one a Sense Of Venue... Even if you can't hear at that frequency you can sense it on your skin...

Nice find for a few hundred dollars...
The air and sparkle in ESLs has little to do with frequency range and more to do with directivity (sound is dominated by direct radiation instead of reverberation), step response and dipole function. All dipole speakers have a more 'airy' sounds due to the delayed back radiation.
 

ddude003

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What's most interesting is that they were testing with CD:s which are sharply cut off at around 20khz. :greengrin:
Yes the 44,1khz sampling rate can in theory provide sound up to 22khz but because there are no perfect filters existing, most cd players cut off much much lower than 22khz in reality.
There is lots of content available that was produced at higher sampling rates and greater dynamic range, think 96kHz/24bit for instance... Even DXD and DSD... Most CD players you refer to may be a little lacking in the DAC while many other DACs and Network Players can handle much higher resolution music content... Even Qobuz delivers content up to 192kHz/24bit today... And there are plenty of DACs that will play beyond that... My Chord Qutest, for instance, will go from 44.1kHz to 768kHz – 16bit to 32bit... And, by the way, there is Life beyond 20kHz...
 

ddude003

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The air and sparkle in ESLs has little to do with frequency range and more to do with directivity (sound is dominated by direct radiation instead of reverberation), step response and dipole function. All dipole speakers have a more 'airy' sounds due to the delayed back radiation.
The frequency range for Air starts at about 16kHz and goes into the ultrasonic... Yes, there is Life beyond 20kHz...

"At least one member of each instrument family (strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) produces energy to 40 kHz or above, and the spectra of some instruments reach this work's measurement limit of 102.4 kHz. Harmonics of muted trumpet extend to 80 kHz; violin and oboe, to above 40 kHz; and a cymbal crash was still strong at 100 kHz" from There's Life Above 20 Kilohertz! A Survey of Musical Instrument Spectra to 102.4 KHz by
James Boyk, California Institute of Technology Music Lab, 0-51 Caltech, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
 
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