Calling Aerial 20T owners

I just acquired an used pair of 20T V1.

room size is 14 x 18, sources are VPI SSM Ref w/ rim drive, Lyra Skala, Einstein phono, modded Benchmark DAC USB, Einstein pre, BAT 150SE. IC are Audience 24 & Pure Note, speaker wires are Acoustic Zen Hologram II (top) and Audioquest Clear III (bottom). all sit on Grand Prix Audio racks.

due to room size, speakers are 5' from back wall. I had to bi-wire them to remove a bit of bright and edgy top end. not sure if it was the speaker wires or power amp output, I am not getting the "presence" and immediacy like Sonus Faber Amati or Guarneri Memento. I am afraid to use silver speaker cables which will improve the presence, think listening fatigue will set in after 10 min.

want to check with 20T owners:

anyone has success with tube amps?
how far apart do you have them? any toe-in?
how do you move them on carpet? 2-piece construction means I have to take the head unit off every time I want to move a quarter inch.
do you put anything under the speakers? considering some maple block so I can slide them around easily.
Aerial suggests to tilt the speakers up slightly, but after bi-wire I found level sounds better. do you tilt up?

I am happy with the bass response, so I "don't" need more power. but if power will increase upper mid and brings out a bit more presence, snappiness, and immediacy, I will consider a different amp.
Congratulations you made a great speaker choice. I have 20T V1 as well. I have used a number of SS amplifiers on them with varying success. I tried a medium powered tube amp and it was the only one that was not good at all. It was bright, edgy, and muddled. If you read the review from Stereophile ( and look at the measurements they may explain why, but I don't profess to be an expert in interpreting impedence graphs.

I don't think you'll find a tube amp that will be a great match. You may also know Aerial usually shows with SS amps at shows. During the latest CES they showed the V2's with Boulder gear.

I am currently biamping using a very high quality and high output SS amp. I can tell you they sound like a totally different speaker than they did with my previous amps. The higher output has transformed them from a really good speaker, into a totally invisible awesome speaker that is as good as anything I've ever experienced. And no it's not just about Bass. It's about everything.

With my previous amps I preferred them quite wide. That seemed to enlarge the soundstage, although rarely was I able to get the soundstage to extend outside of the placement. The dealer I heard them at was using MAC 501s and doing the same thing.

On a recommendation from a friend I tried a new amplifier that is much higher in output. Wow they sure sing now! The Macs and my previous amps turned out to be wimps when it comes to output. And it's not just about Watts. In all instances I have preferred them toed in at the listener which is also what the manual recommends.

As far as moving them they come with wheels for easy moving. You simply wheel them around until you are happy and then attach the feet. If you didn't get the wheels from the past owner perhaps Aerial will sell you some?

The tweeter is very directional. My owner's manual talks about getting the level right so the tweeter is parallel with your ears. I sure don't remember it saying to tilt them up.

I never tried them but I wouldn't suggest silver speaker cables. The Aerials can get bright (as you know) and the thought of silver cables with tube amps makes my ears hurt. I used Cardas Golden Ref with mine and they sound awesome. I'm between cables right now as my new amp is not monos so my 6' Cardas GR bi-wired cables don't fit anymore. Email if you're interested in them or naming names.


sounds like the owner's manual does contain some useful info, something I did not get from the dealer. most speakers I owned I don't bother to read the manual as they are quite useless.

so Rowland 304 bi-amp is your amp of choice now? I have only one pair of output from my Einstein, so I can only use 1 amp. I will much rather keep my BAT, I haven't found any solid state to equal BAT midrange and up, in fact no tube amps could compete either. will try to drag my friend's Pass 350.5 over to try though. another person also highly recommends 20T with 304, I think you know whom I am talking about.

I do have the wheels, but I found the sound changed a lot after putting the spikes back on due to ribbon's limited vertical dispersion. owner's manual suggest to sit at tweeter level? before going bi-wire, the sound was on the bright side so I called Aerial and Andrew suggested (and a common practice for them) to tilt it up a little. how little he did not say, but everyone who listened to my system last weekend with bi-wire preferred the sound w/o tilting. I wasn't sitting in the sweet spot to hear w/ and w/o tilting, but presence and immediacy did improve a bit after the speakers are level.
You can use a Y connector from your pre or have another set of outputs installed. I'm sure the Pass will sound great by comparison. Who knows maybe you'll prefer it? Bat also makes some solid state amps. BTW you don't have to Bi-amp just use a powerful SS amp. That's just what I'm doing.

In the end though, and I hope this doesn't offend you, you didn't do your homework on the 20t's because not many people would say they are "tube friendly". I'm sure a high power tube amp can do it and sound pretty darn good, but IMHO that speaker is designed for SS. If you are dearly attached to the Bat you may have a mis-match.

One side note: I also read the Stereophile review again and in the conclusion they speculate a room that's too small may compress the low end and tilt the speaker's balance to the high end. I suppose that might also be your problem as your room is on the small side for the 20t's (IMHO).

I'd prefer not to name names or slam past equipment but my system is updated. If you want a list of stuff I've tried email me.

I did try to "do my homework". I spoke to Aerial before committing to buy, another owner had them in the same size room with 2x SW12, and previous owner was using ARC VTM-200. I know they are not tube friendly, but I don't need the lowest bass and thought I could get away with BAT especially if I don't listen loud. I will try solid state just to see what they are capable of, not sure what I will do next regardless of the outcome.

I know I still have lots of work to do in order to optimize the positioning, will see if I can dial them to the sound I prefer but then Aerial will not sound like Sonus Faber for one...
I've heard them sound great with big mcintosh amps. I think it was actually the 1.2Kwatt amps that I heard ( :

I would use a bigger SS amp with these.
I'm using Mc with my Aerials after trying Krell, Marantz, and MF. I had the HF issue as well. I think it had as much to do with the source at is did with the amp. The McIntosh fixed the problem and they make beautiful music now that I can sit and listen to for hours. Never could do that before. Of course try first. The laid back sound of Mc is not to everyone's taste. I think the 20Ts are going to take some power. I briefly hooked up my Cary 120S to my Aerials and while they sounded fine the umph just wasnt' going to be there and I didn't want to push the Cary.
I remember thinking the same thing about the Bass when I decided to buy mine. At the time I had a 200 watt SS amp which I knew would be under powered but deep bass has never really been my thing. When I got them they still sounded great but I kept picking things out that I didn't like. The drivers didn't integrate as well as I thought they should, the bass was low and "there" but not as defined as it should have been, and the sound stage rarely if ever got outside of the speakers which caused too many sounds to be localized on the speaker (as a former Avalon owner I hate that). Then I got some really well powered monoblocks (350 wpc) and the sound really improved. The bass tightened up, and everything was just so much more together. But the soundstaging really didn't improve much and the speakers didn't disappear. Then when I went to my current set up it all snapped into place. No integration issues, soundstage is wide and deep, and they just totally disappear. The more laid back amps have a sound that is a good fit as my monoblocks were highly resolving which was a bit too much of a good thing. Depending on the power of the Pass amps I think that will at least tell you if your problem is related to an equipment mismatch as opposed to a room issue. If it's not a room issue I would encourage you to go the route I have or similar as they really are awesome. Anyway I hope sharing my experiences will help you.
Disclaimer :I an a dealer for both companies ... I run my 20 Ts to great success with the Conrad Johnson Lp 1P 140 monoblocs. I have heard the 20Ts with many ss amps and there are some wonderful combinations to be sure . That said , I wouldnt trade this combination .
thanks to all of your input, I will continue to optimize my system while locating a powerful solid state to experiment. if solid state is the answer, not sure what I will do though...
Given your Einstein gear, I would consider the Parasound JC-1 monoblocks, which are a truly differential balanced design. I think they are one of the tiny handful of high-powered solid-state designs that is truly great sounding. In addition, their price / performance / build quality ratio is off the charts due to offshore manufacturing.

As for tube amps, perhaps the obvious choice is the CAT monoblocks, which have the best output transformers and largest power supplies I am aware of in regular production tube amps. My VAC Renaissance 140's can also drive 1-2 Ohm loads and would also work well, but they will not have the oomph of the CAT's, which are 192 lb. snarling beasts that were designed to drive the 83 db. efficient, impedence-psychotic MBL 101's. The downside to the CAT's is the need for very carefully selected output tubes that can withstand the hotrod circuit (my friend nicknamed his JL-1's the "popcorn popper" for what it could do to output tubes). The JL-1 Limited Edition is the best iteration of these amps, featuring all point-to-point wiring (later versions used boards) and output transformers that weigh something like 55 lbs. each - they retailed for $50k and can now be found for $12k-$13k used because people don't know what they are.

I find the bass to be a bit plummy on the V1, and as a consequence, the Parasound or the CAT monoblocks, both of which exert tremendous control in the face of tough loads, would be smart choices.
Parasound JC1 is on my radar, I just missed one out locally.

I have not heard CAT, but all the reviews and feedback I read are positive except the tube requirement as you pointed out. they produce tremendous amount of heat due to number of tubes use, they don't have XLR input either which will require new investment in IC. between CAT and Parasound, JC1 is the easier route and not too expensive to try.

anyone ever try class D amps on 20T? Rowland is considered class D, but it has analog power supply so it's more of a hybrid.
The CAT amps do not run hot and you would not necessarily have to change interconnects - Neutrix makes very good XLR to RCA convertors that are only about $15/pair if you're smart enough to buy them from an electronics supply store (as opposed to some audiophile outfit that rebrands them and charges 10x more). I use them with a 25 ft. balanced IC when I run my VAC amp. The problem with the CAT amps is output tubes that blow. When one goes, it takes out a resistor, which must be soldered out and a new one soldered in. If each monoblock did not weigh 192 lbs., this would perhaps not be such a big deal, but they are large and weigh a ton, so if you can't solder, you have to schlep them to a repair tech. My friend who had JL-1's recently wrote "In the end, I think those amps are suitable only for someone who has ... skill with a soldering iron and does not mind undertaking a resistor soldering exercise at least once or twice a year. You need that AND the patience/wallet to finance a new set of 16 output tubes about every nine months or so."

I agree that the Parasounds would be the easier move and they are very, very good, but the CAT, especially the balls-out JL-1 Limited Edition, is an amazing amp if you have some patience.

The Rowland 300 series Class D amps, especially the original version with the straight analog power supply, are okay, but the performance of the 201/501 series Class D amps depends largely upon the quality of your home A/C power supply (and thus could sound lousy, especially on a speaker with a ribbon tweeter). The Rowland Model 6 monoblocks, especially if offered with the battery power supplies, are excellent amps (not to mention fully differential balanced).
Congrats with some wonderful speakers! I have lived with my 20Ts now in two years and absolutely love them. They definately deserve great gear and some powerful amps!

I have tried (and lived with) the following amps on mye 20Ts in this order:
* Jeff Rowland 501 monos (4 x for biamping) - much power, but too dry sounding, not musical enough for my taste.
* Theta Citadel - incredible amps, very musical, warm sounding, but not the latest word in resolution and dynamics. Still a very good match with the 20Ts. I would pick these over any tube amp for the 20Ts I think.
* Jeff Rowland 301 monos - the amps I have now and by far the best. More neutral and transparent than the Citadels, faster, even better dynamics and bass control and much more resolved. Delivers a huge and seductive sound on my 20Ts.

For fun I have also tried the Cary V12 monos(100watt) on my 20Ts, but that was awful. Too little power! My advice is to stay away from tubes on these speakers unless you go for some megawatt tube amps like the big VTLs or similar.

I have recently stepped up to Burmester reference front end gear (I have the latest 069 cd and 077 pre) and I find that the 20Ts are up to the task. I am amazed! Definately some speakers you can grow with.

I also have a room at size 14 x 18 and have Daad and Auralex acoustic treatments. I have bass set to "0" position and also have a pair of SW12 subs. I use the speaker level input on the SW12s (which is way better than the line level inputs for music). The bass I have is very tight, deep and firm. A guy who works with acoustic treatments visited my and said he was chocked. He had never heard so good sound anywhere in a private home before ...:)

In my experience it is almost always best to toe-in speakers, so also with 20Ts. In this way you also get less side wall issues. I have tried some different angles, but have ended up with toe-in so much that the speakers point directly to a point about 1/2 feet behind my ears.
So now two current 20t owners have mentioned Rowland amps as being the best sound we've found so far on the 20t's. Between Cappuccino and myself we've tried no less than 8 different high end SS amps.
some update about the sound after some tuning.

I plugged up the bass module ports, move the speakers closer to the back wall by 6" or so, still slight toe-in. both top and bottom dials are set at "0", I have a pretty coherent sound now. image and focus were both more dense and weightier, top end sounds smoother due to fuller upper mid, bass tightened up and free the slight smearing of lower mid. overall a very positive improvement. speakers are not tilted up any more, after changing to bi-wire I do not feel the need to tone down the top end.

will probably need another few weeks to play with positioning, they are on casters now and I am sure sound will change again once they go back on spikes. but I now have much more faith in the 150SE + 20T combo, I thought one of them will have to go during the first week.

next step is to mod my BAT to further improve bass response. but as of now the bass is tuneful and abundant.
I think maybe it's your amp. Speakers such as the 20T should sound great without a lot fuss IMO.
I use a Bryston 14 BSST with DIY 8 gauge 7N Cu cables to power my Aerials 20T V2. I like classical music, and for the first time I can hear individual instruments in music from large ensembles or orchestra (of course this is very much a factor of the recording also). My front end is Esoteric (P-05/D-05), controlled by a Mark Levinson 326S. All interconnects and power cord for the amp are Acoustic Zen Absolute (silver!), while source components have DIY Oyaide 7N PCOCC-A Cu cables, Oyaide plugs and Oyaide receptacles.

I am happy with the sound. Do I think another amp could do better with the 20T V2? Maybe. What would I wish to try next? Maybe Bryston 28 BSST (indicating that SS and fast, fully bridged, high output amplifiers with low noise floor I think are a good match with Aerial Acoustics speakers).
Happy listening