Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC review: a set of surprising home theater speakers

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This week we reviewed the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC home theater speaker pack that includes the Highland Audio Aingel 3205 floorstanding speakers, the Highland Audio Aingel 320C center speaker and the Highland Audio Aingel 3201 compact speakers for surround sound effects.

The Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC home theater speakers have an elegant and understated look that makes them easy to integrate in even a small living room or home theater room. Their slim silhouette is made possible by the integration of 5” midbass drivers for the floorstanding models and 4” midbass drivers for the center and surround speakers.

The Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC speaker pack, with the Aingel 3205 floorstanding speakers on either side and the Aingel 3201 compact speakers in the middle mounted on NorStone Stylum 2 stands (natural oak finish). On top of the Aingel 3201s is the Aingel 320C center speaker.

Despite its small footprint, will this €489 Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC home theater speaker pack be able to plunge us into the heart of the action and provide us with a great experience?

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: the brand

Highland Audio is French brand founded in the early 2000s that has built itself a great reputation by crafting speakers with elegant and graceful designs as well as excellent value for money.

Highland Audio’s speakers have been praised by the specialized press and have received many positive customer reviews. They are appreciated just as much for their streamlined shape and beautiful finish as they are for their acoustic qualities. What makes them particularly appealing is the spaciousness and complexity of the soundscape they are able to produce. They are also capable of producing an astonishing level of bass despite their compact size and small diameter drivers.

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The Highland Audio Oran 4301 speakers received the “Choc 2005” label from the magazine Le Monde de la Musique the year they were released: “The sound is astonishingly accurate: the music never feels lusterless or subdued. The stereo image is so precise and the color palette so carefully organized that it seems almost lifelike.”

Highland Audio currently offers three speaker ranges:

Highland Audio Aingel

These three references form the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC home theater speaker pack that we are reviewing today.

Highland Audio Oran 

Highland Audio Dilis 

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: packaging & accessories

The speakers in the Highland Audio 35 HC speaker pack come in three separate boxes. One for the Highland Audio Aingel 3205 floorstanding speakers, one for the Highland Audio Aingel 3201 speakers and one for the Highland Audio Aingel 320C center speaker.

It should be noted that each cardboard package is reinforced (double boxes) to provide the speakers with better protection during shipping. Once the cardboard box is opened, the speakers are revealed to be wrapped in a white synthetic fabric cover and securely held in place with packing foam. Each speaker comes with an acoustic fabric grille that allows you to hide the drivers if you so wish.

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: presentation

Sleek design, elegant finish

The Highland Audio Aingel speakers are very appealing, with or without the acoustic fabric grilles.

The speakers in the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack all use the same small diameter tweeter and midbass drivers (5” and 4”) inside very slim cabinets that are deeper than they are wide.

Moreover, they all have a bass-reflex enclosure, two pairs of screw terminals (compatible with banana plugs) and a very elegant imitation wood finish.

The use of 5” drivers has allowed the Aingel 3205 speakers to have a very slim cabinet.

The streamlined design of the Highland Audio Aingel 3205 means they don’t look massive or bulky and makes them discreet and easy to place, even in a small room. The same goes for the Highland Audio Aingel 3201 compact speakers, whose baffle is no wider than a paperback!

This paperback gives you an idea of just how compact the Aingel 3201 speaker is!

As for the Highland Audio Aingel 320C center speaker, its reduced height and depth mean it can be placed in a TV/video cabinet or directly under or in front of a TV.

The proportions of the Highland Audio Aingel 320C center speaker are perfectly in keeping with the other speakers in this set.

Decoupling spikes and pads

The Highland Audio Aingel 3205 floorstanding speakers come with a base that needs to be screwed onto the bottom of the speaker (screws included). This base ensures perfect stability and helps emphasize the speaker’s delicate design. Metal decoupling spikes, counter spikes and damping pads are also included.

The Highland Audio Aingel 3201 compact speakers also come with metal decoupling spikes, counter spikes and damping pads. The Highland Audio Aingel 320C center speaker, however, only comes with damping pads.

The spikes underneath the Highland Audio Aingel 3205 speakers help dissipate the vibrations from the cabinet so that they don’t reach the drivers’ cones. Thanks to these spikes, the vibrational waves are evacuated towards the floor. By eliminating vibrations in this way, distortion is reduced and accuracy is increased. The counter spikes that come with the speaker can be placed under the spikes to avoid scraping the floor.

If you don’t want to use the spikes, the manufacturer also includes damping pads.

Metal/ceramic midbass driver

All of the speakers in the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC use one or two midbass drivers with a metal-ceramic cone and long-throw surround. The Aingel 3205 speaker’s drivers are 5” (12.7cm) in diameter and those of the Aingel 3201 and 3220C are 4” (10.16cm) in diameter. The drivers all feature the same qualities and properties, and ensure a perfectly coherent soundstage.

The midbass drivers of the speakers in the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack all have the same design.

A metal-ceramic cone provides a very effective piston effect. Thanks to these two very rigid materials, the cone isn’t deformed when moving back and forth. The flexible surround allows the cone to have a long throw and move a lot of air very quickly and efficiently.

However, this would all be for nothing if each driver wasn’t equipped with a large voice coil set in motion by a powerful, oversized magnet for precise control when the current arrives from the amplifier. This design, usually only found on much more expensive speakers, explains to a large extent their ability to produce a bass level that could seem impossible given their size.

Titanium tweeter

All of the speakers in the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack are equipped with the same 1” titanium dome tweeter.

All of the speakers in the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack have the same 1” titanium dome tweeter. Protected by a metal grille, the tweeter is equipped with a powerful neodymium magnet with an aluminum passive radiator at the back. This star-shaped radiator is designed to reduce the heat generated by the tweeter’s coil, which could otherwise cause distortion in the highest frequencies.

This design allows the speakers in this pack to deliver clear and detailed highs, without any distortion or harshness.

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: specifications

Highland Audio Aingel 3205

Design

  • 2-way, bass-reflex floorstanding speaker, rear port
  • High gauge, banana plug and bi-wiring compatible terminals
  • Magnetic shielding
  • Recommended amplification: 10W – 90W

Drivers

  • Tweeter: 1” titanium dome, neodymium magnet, aluminum radiator
  • Midbass drivers: 5”, metal-ceramic cone

Measurements

  • Sensitivity: 87dB
  • Frequency response: 39Hz – 20kHz
  • Cutoff frequency: 2.5kHz
  • Impedance: 6 ohms

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 140 x 1020 x 272mm
  • Unit weight: 15kg

Highland Audio Aingel 320C

Design

  • 2-way, bass-reflex center speaker, frontal ports
  • High gauge, banana plug and bi-wiring compatible terminals
  • Magnetic shielding
  • Recommended amplification: 10W – 80W

Drivers

  • Tweeter: 1” titanium dome, neodymium magnet, aluminum radiator
  • Midbass drivers: 4”, metal-ceramic cone

Measurements

  • Sensitivity: 85dB
  • Frequency response: 65Hz – 20kHz
  • Cutoff frequency: 2.5kHz
  • Impedance: 6 ohms

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D) : 430 x 127 x 230mm 
  • Unit weight: 5.5kg

Highland Audio Aingel 3201

Design

  • 2-way, bass-reflex compact speaker, rear port
  • High gauge, banana plug and bi-wiring compatible terminals
  • Magnetic shielding
  • Recommended amplification: 10W – 50W

Drivers

  • Tweeter: 1” titanium dome, neodymium magnet, aluminum radiator
  • Midbass drivers: 4”, metal-ceramic cone

Measurements

  • Sensitivity: 84dB
  • Frequency response: 65Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 6 ohms

General

  • Dimensions (W x H x D) : 125 x 230 x 210mm
  • Unit weight: 3kg

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: listening conditions

For our review of the Highland Audio Aingel HC 35 pack, we connected the speakers to the Onkyo TX-RZ840 A/V receiver using NorStone W250 Classic wire. The Highland Audio Aingel 3201 compact speakers were placed on either side of our sofa, each mounted on NorStone Stylum 2 natural oak finish speaker stands. We took care to position the three front speakers so that the drivers of the Aingel 3205 and Aingel 320C were all situated on the same axis, and toed-in the floorstanding speakers towards the listening position. For the reproduction of the lows, we used the Rel Acoustics HT/1205 subwoofer that we recently reviewed (read our review of the Rel Acoustics HT/1205 subwoofer).

After performing an auto calibration using the microphone that came with the receiver, we were able to test these speakers with the soundtracks of several movies across various streaming sites, including Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video.

NB: the speakers that we received for our review of the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC were brand-new. Therefore, we broke them in for a few dozen hours by playing music at a moderate volume then at a higher volume, and also using the Jean-Marie Reynaud Magic CD.

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: listening impressions

Clarity, rapidity, precision, impact. These are the words that come to mind when listening to the speakers in the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack.

By themselves in stereo, the Aingel 3205 floorstanding speakers were impressive with the energy, precision and breadth they brought to the soundstage. Better still was the level of bass which, far from being frustrating, was very enjoyable. Fast, solid and rather well nuanced, it allowed us to listen to music in good conditions, adding texture and substance. It was difficult to believe that the drivers producing the sound were only 5” in diameter!

For home theater sessions, however, it is more or less essential to use a subwoofer with such speakers to be able to enjoy a more physical sound, even though this pack is far from disappointing when used in a 5.0 configuration.

With Avatar, the Highland Aingel 35 HC pack was particularly effective during the scene in which Jake Sully faced the titanosaurus before being chased by a thanator. The cries of the different animals and the rustling of the foliage spread out extensively and transported us to the heart of the jungle before Jake began to flee. During the chase, we were treated to a myriad of sound effects that swirled around us. The branches were moved apart and cracked noisily under the hero’s footsteps, as well as those of the rampaging predator. When Jack dove into the waterfall, the bubbling of the underwater current sounded incredibly realistic.

The long opening scene in Mad Max: Fury Road also allowed us to observe and appreciate the consistency of the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack. During the first chase scene through the desert that ends in the vehicle rolling over and the hero being captured, as well as the scene depicting Max’s attempt to escape through the mountain maze, the sound effects flowed from one speaker to another with remarkable ease and coherence.

During the scene of the final battle between Thorin and Azong (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), we were impressed once again by the ability of these speakers to truly bring the action taking place on-screen to life. The blows dealt by the protagonists, the ice cracking under their feet and the rumbling rising from the battlefield further down the valley were all reproduced with great conviction.

Highland Aingel 35 HC: compared to…

Eltax Monitor 93 HC: the speakers in the Eltax pack feature one or two 5” midbass drivers (4” on the Highland Audio compact and center speakers) as well as a silk dome tweeter (titanium dome on the Highland models). The result is a slightly softer and smoother sound with the Eltax models, while the Highland Audio speakers produce a sound that is brighter and more detailed. The latter are also more expressive in the low mids. Design is a question of personal taste, but we prefer the look of the Highland Audio Aingel speakers.

Jamo S809 HCS: The Jamo S809 floorstanding speakers in this pack differ from the Highland Audio Aingel 3205s in that they feature three 4” midbass drivers, as opposed to two for the French speakers. The Jamo speakers therefore have a higher sound pressure level. The more recent Jamo S809 HCS speakers have an understated and elegant Scandinavian design with gray acoustic fabric grilles that are attached magnetically, which is more practical than the tabs on the Highland Audio speakers’ grilles. However, the Jamo speakers are more expensive…

Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC: conclusion

The Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC speaker pack is ideal for anyone looking to build a home theater installation on a budget. These speakers are energetic and excel at accurately reproducing voices and distributing sound effects across an extensive soundstage. They are also capable of precisely reproducing many of the details in a movie or series soundtrack, supporting the action on screen and providing an excellent sense of sonic immersion.

For home theater use, it is highly recommended to add a subwoofer to achieve a more physical sound. That said, the sound provided by these speakers is never frustrating when used without a subwoofer, making them suitable for a home theater installation in an apartment for example. Whether it’s in stereo with just the Highland Audio Aingel 3205 floorstanding speakers or with all the speakers in the pack (All Channels Stereo mode), the Highland Audio Aingel 35 HC pack provides a spacious, generous and detailed sound when listening to music.

Lastly, these speakers look very elegant and boast a high-quality finish and, above all, they are very discreet thanks to their compact size. This is even more true when the grilles are added: the speakers are no longer eye-catching and blend into their surroundings, becoming almost invisible.

What we liked:

  • The energetic sound and powerful lows
  • The magnitude of the sound and the level of detail
  • The elegant look and small footprint
  • The very high-quality finish

What we would have liked:

  • Nothing else at this price point

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