Our Visit To Audiovector

It’s a busy summer ahead for us here at The Audiobarn, with several manufacturer visits planned.  First up, and one we had been looking forward to all winter, was Audiovector in Copenhagen.

Arriving late Sunday afternoon, you could easily have mistaken Copenhagen for still being in the UK – grey overcast skies and the hint of rain in the air.  The welcome couldn’t have been more different.  The warm and immediately likeable Mads Klifoth (pictured centre above) from Audiovector greeting us at the airport and taking us on to Copenhagen itself.

Radhuspladsen

The first evening was a relaxed affair.  A meal out at Mad’s favourite French restaurant, followed by some essential sightseeing.  As with all these kind of trips, one is always left wishing for more time and a slightly gentler pace to take everything in, but Copenhagen is certainly somewhere we shall return I am very sure.

Down To Business

Ole Klifoth, founder and lead designer, preparing to go through the build of an SR 3

The day would split into a morning and afternoon session, which worked very well.  The morning spent discussing the technical aspects of the Audiovector approach to loudspeaker design with Ole, followed by a listening session after lunch to ‘hear’ how these innovations and designs impact on the overall sound, and how each model level of speaker builds on the previous.  Essentially each SR Series loudspeaker is available in 1 of 4 different levels:

  • Super
  • Signature
  • Avantgarde
  • Avantgarde Arrete
 
The Avantgarde Arrete is the premium model, and customers are always able to have their loudspeaker ‘upgraded’ in future, from say a Signature to a full blown Arrete.
Ole With A 'Signature' Driver

Design Philosophy

Before getting down to the detail, Ole shared some of his design philosophy, and covered a great deal of loudspeaker design history.  “Mechanics has been overlooked for so many years” he explains, the focus being placed on a straight frequency response…which tells you nothing!”

“The most perfect driver I ever heard, which on paper was perfect, was just so boring!” he adds.

One of Ole’s overriding beliefs is that the speaker should be an easy load for the amplifier.  That the driver should follow the amplifier.  Part of this is his ‘Low Compression Concept’.  

The Low Compression Concept allows for maximum freedom of movement for all components.  Ole explains this is essential for an open and dynamic sound.  Imagine that the diaphragm is able to overheat, and the impedance is able to rise from a specification of 8 Ohm, to 12 Ohm.  It is still working with an 8 Ohm crossover, so you get mismatch and degradation in sound quality.

Plinth Design on an SR 3 Super
AMT Tweeter..Exploded on right

As you move up the SR range, from Super to Arrete, the specification increases, including the plinth and rear panel.  The plinth changes on the Signature to the ‘superstand’ design, to deliver deeper base and deeper soundstage.  The tweeter pictured is Audiovector evolution of the AMT (Air Motion Tweeter) first introduced around 1967.  This tweeter design operates in a similar way to an accordion, and shuns the tradition ‘piston’ approach.  What you gain is driver which is unaffected by deceleration or acceleration of mass.  The Audiovector tweeter is able to produce sound up to 50Khz (if you can hear it!) without the need for an additional super-tweeter

Note the 3 point fixing of the driver chassis.  As I had come to expect from Ole by this point, this was not an unconsidered detail.  It was the result of testing and listening experience.

Audiovector Drivers & Fixings
SR 3 Super Crossover

As with everything that goes into an Audiovector speaker, the diaphragms are researched and developed in house before being specified to fellow Danish company Scan-Speak.  Ole explains “the membrane is our own recipe, a very light paper and woven carbon fibre with an airy lightweight glue.”  The result a very stiff and light membrane.  This gives rise to another core principle of the Audiovectors… when you can engineer and design the driver right down to the detail of the membrane, you can engineer the role of the driver – when the frequency rolls off for example, so as to avoid ‘nasty’ crossover interference which places load on the amplifier.  In effect, the filtering is engineered into the driver itself, and not into the crossover.

Arrete models also feature cryogenically treated crossovers.  Ole confirms that the resistance in the Cryogenically treated crossover is as much as 20% less than when untreated.  The molecules within the components are able to “flow back” to their pre-manufacturing position he explains. Listening shows that it just “sounds better”.  Time to put these topics to the test… after some lunch!

After lunch and kicking off our listening session, Mads was keen to introduce his new baby… the QR1 pictured here with matching QR Sub.  As his first dedicated project, it’s an absolute revelation.  The sound quality and seamless integration with the sub was faultless and highly entertaining.  This was a highlight of the visit, and we keep coming back to the sound this combo made in the demo rooms. 

SR 3 Avantegarde Arrete
SR 3 Signature

Moving on, Mads and Ole were keen to demonstrate how the model hierarchy works, and the changes in sound quality.  First up was the SR 3 Signature, which produced a room filling sound with plenty of drive and detail.  Very enjoyable indeed.  Moving on to the Avantgarde, it was easy to hear the same characteristics of the previous model, the same ‘DNA’ which runs through all Audiovector loudspeakers, but what you got was a refinement, whilst achieving even more of an insight into the music.  In particular we loved the sheer dynamic and rhythmic sound, paired with wide open soundstage, which seems to get more emphasised with each level you move up in the range. 

Finally the SR 3 Avantgarde Arrete was introduced, and boy another big step up in everything we had already been enjoying in spades.  Listening to Bob Dylans, ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’, the harmonica pierces straight out of the soundstage, hanging in the air as the bass guitars rhythm is locked onto by the speakers.  A truly mesmerising experience.

With time fast running out, and our ride to the airport approaching, it was time to just touch on on the SR 6 Avantgarde Arrete.  This was indeed the pinnacle of everything we had heard through the day, bringing an even greater sense of scale to the sound, which perhaps you might expect.  It was certainly one of the best sounds I have heard in a long time, and why we also have them on demonstration here at the ‘Barn’.

Bryan With Ole
Jack With Ole

Summing Up.

It is clear that the Audiovector range of loudspeakers have been made with passion and dedication, evolving and refining over many decades.  The result is a thoroughly entertaining and complete loudspeaker, which is a joy to listen to. Not only does the upgrade program make complete sense, but also allows customers to get a very sophisticated product at a comfortable budget and not ‘stress’ that they are missing out in some way.  You can hear the magic of the Arrete models all the way through the range, even in the humble yet quite exceptional QR 1 models.

We have a comprehensive range of Audiovector on demo here in the showroom, and can almost talk with as much passion, though not technical knowledge, as Ole and Mads themselves!  Well worth checking out and getting a thorough understanding of how the models work.

Come and experience them for yourself 

Jack

(UPDATE from 2020 – We now have the latest R1 and R3 Arrete models in store!)

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