Avantgarde Loudspeakers: Solid-State or Tube Amps

Skanda

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@caesar, well said, @marslo gave me alot to think about in his post - truly appreciative of that first hand account. as far as risk tolerance, given my profession i think of it as non static and situation dependent haha. my risk tolerance for an investment is very high...my risk tolerance for trying to configure a sound system that may just be a bit too much for my room and all the tweaking and money involved in fixing that original sin, not so high.

given all the different combinations for the trio+basshorn, plus the fact that the duo (and hopefully some successor to the duo mezzo) is quite big on its own, i have a lot of listening cut out ahead of me before a decision - and the pesky process of actually purchashing this new place...it's moving along or so i'm told. i am starting to think visiting the factory might be a great way to listen to all these different configs and hopefully i can line it with a work trip to ease the time burden

with regards to music, i know garbage in garbage out. but the audio journey's reality to me is that a great system can play poorly recorded stuff really well. sure it won't have the highest fidelity but you're going to get something more out of the music vs laptop speakers or even a lesser system. well recorded music sounds good on anything. with the right mood, tin pan alley playing out of an ipad can be a delightful experience so when i hear that stuff with high end gear it's a treat but it's not telling me much. and DEAR GOD, if i have to listen to Liberty one more time, i will jump off my balcony :eek:o_O (i loathe that track)

with regards to attack, of course there can be too much if it is too sharp but your comments have really piqued my interest. every cone+dome high end system i have heard or owned, including ones i enjoyed alot and would call "the best" of what i've heard, have a slight sense of restraint. it's not a bad thing just something you notice on a crescendo or a powerful bass drop - the "wallop" falls just shy of expectations. i never enjoyed it in live concerts because sure you got the wallop but it is generally accompanied by too high a volume and a loss in many other details, something which i value alot. i began to think that perhaps this is just because of the limited dynamic range in modern recordings. it wasn't until my 3rd or 4th system assembled that i started thinking about dynamic range, i thought resolution+detail and staging was all that was needed. and i've been thinking about this since my s5mk2 system: bigger amps, power treatment to bring down noise, etc. the 2 components that brought a lot of attack to my system were the soulution 721 pre and the taiko extreme. the soulution through it's sheer refined grunt and the taiko through bringing more of the music out of my digital.

enter avantgarde: it may not end up being the right speaker for me but everything i read points to uncompressed and wall to wall immersive soundstaging. i like feeling in the music as opposed to watching the music and everything i have read suggests thats exactly what these horns do. the trio or duo might also finally tell me if the restraint i'm experiencing is a function of speaker design or recorded material (or both!). i am excited to listen, i just don't know when i'll be able to swing it but it's quickly jumping up the priority queue on the to-do list :D
 
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caesar

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I am unfamiliar with this term, caesar?
Hahaha, it's a little Yiddish integrated into English... this is commonly used everyday in large urban centers like NYC and LA... in this context, it means an old audiophile who is lying in bed all day and searching for audiophile palatable versions, by obscure artists, of really great songs that will sound like crap on his hifi system... thing Vanessa Fernandez doing Led Zeppelin because it sounds good - instead of actually playing Led Zeppelin... kind of the opposite of what Skanda is looking for
 
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Skanda

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Hahaha, it's a little Yiddish integrated into English... this is commonly used everyday in large urban centers like NYC and LA... in this context, it means an old audiophile who is lying in bed all day and searching for audiophile palatable versions, by obscure artists, of really great songs that will sound like crap on his hifi system... thing Vanessa Fernandez doing Led Zeppelin because it sounds good - instead of actually playing Led Zeppelin... kind of the opposite of what Skanda is looking for
in the old 6moons review of the trio with Rhapsody Bob and Jim Smith, Jim said something that struck a chord (pun!) with me: why spend more to enjoy less i.e. why build an expensive system that can't play music you like and you're stuck listening to vanessa fernandez, patricia barber, and musica nuda...they aren't bad artists and if thats what someone wants to listen to, more power to them but i want to blast the type of music i referenced in my taiko review with a big grin on my face
 
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Skanda

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actually to that end, i have a really nice portable set up with custom in ears and astell and kern player and it's great. but these days away from my main system in nyc i've been reaching for my new bang and olufsen bluetooth headphones (h95) because i'm mostly listening to some cool mixes on youtube music that aren't on streaming services. sure they dont compete with my customs but i'm listening to what i like and im enjoying it
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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@caesar, well said, @marslo gave me alot to think about in his post - truly appreciative of that first hand account. as far as risk tolerance, given my profession i think of it as non static and situation dependent haha. my risk tolerance for an investment is very high...my risk tolerance for trying to configure a sound system that may just be a bit too much for my room and all the tweaking and money involved in fixing that original sin, not so high.

given all the different combinations for the trio+basshorn, plus the fact that the duo (and hopefully some successor to the duo mezzo) is quite big on its own, i have a lot of listening cut out ahead of me before a decision - and the pesky process of actually purchashing this new place...it's moving along or so i'm told. i am starting to think visiting the factory might be a great way to listen to all these different configs and hopefully i can line it with a work trip to ease the time burden

with regards to music, i know garbage in garbage out. but the audio journey's reality to me is that a great system can play poorly recorded stuff really well. sure it won't have the highest fidelity but you're going to get something more out of the music vs laptop speakers or even a lesser system. wetll recorded music sounds good on anything. with the right mood, tin pan alley playing out of an ipad can be a delightful experience so when i hear that stuff with high end gear it's a treat but it's not telling me much. and DEAR GOD, if i have to listen to Liberty one more time, i will jump off my balcony :eek:o_O (i loathe that track)

with regards to attack, of course there can be too much if it is too sharp but your comments have really piqued my interest. every cone+dome high end system i have heard or owned, including ones i enjoyed alot and would call "the best" of what i've heard, have a slight sense of restraint. it's not a bad thing just something you notice on a crescendo or a powerful bass drop - the "wallop" falls just shy of expectations. i never enjoyed it in live concerts because sure you got the wallop but it is generally accompanied by too high a volume and a loss in many other details, something which i value alot. i began to think that perhaps this is just because of the limited dynamic range in modern recordings. it wasn't until my 3rd or 4th system assembled that i started thinking about dynamic range, i thought resolution+detail and staging was all that was needed. and i've been thinking about this since my s5mk2 system: bigger amps, power treatment to bring down noise, etc. the 2 components that brought a lot of attack to my system were the soulution 721 pre and the taiko extreme. the soulution through it's sheer refined grunt and the taiko through bringing more of the music out of my digital.

enter avantgarde: it may not end up being the right speaker for me but everything i read points to uncompressed and wall to wall immersive soundstaging. i like feeling in the music as opposed to watching the music and everything i have read suggests thats exactly what these horns do. the trio or duo might also finally tell me if the restraint i'm experiencing is a function of speaker design or recorded material (or both!). i am excited to listen, i just don't know when i'll be able to swing it but it's quickly jumping up the priority queue on the to-do list :D

Great post... if you want wall to wall staging and 3D, get MBL...bi-amping MBL will give you a lot of attack... but there is nothing like the attack from the new Avantgarde...

A couple of other thoughts:
- I am purposefully exaggerating the wallop of the attack, to make you aware of a potential negative to some, as you referred to possibly purchasing blind. But I do not believe it's negative at all! As Marslo says, it mimics realism of real music! Which I believe is what you are looking for. But for guys acclimated to box speakers over many years, especially a sealed magico, it's a shocking difference, so they complain
- Agree on garbage in garbage out in the musical signal... I listen music I like, not the audiophile garbage...On a great system, even with a mediocre recording you will get the jump and proper tone.. obviously if there is more information on the recording, your system will have even more realism in voices, the acoustic recording was captured in, subtle interplay cues between musicians, etc.
 
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caesar

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Quoted from TheAudioBeat Roy Gregory article on the new Trio's

"There was also a set of Trio XDs with BassHorns, which is where the listening started, but it was instantly apparent that, even in passive form, the G3/SpaceHorn combination was in a completely different league, leaving the older speakers sounding thin, disjointed and musically awkward. In fact, a direct blind comparison might lead you to question whether the G3 is a horn speaker at all, such is its sense of rounded warmth, body and integration. Voices and instruments were significantly more natural and more naturally dimensioned. The sense of pace and timing in music was far more explicit."


https://www.theaudiobeat.com/visits/avantgarde_trio_g3.htm

Wow! A comparison from Roy Gregory! Thanks for posting this little bit of treasure!

Helpful, actionable advice to a potential buyer, for a change, from his typical incomprehensible and worthless rambling
 

Hear Here

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with regards to music, i know garbage in garbage out. but the audio journey's reality to me is that a great system can play poorly recorded stuff really well. sure it won't have the highest fidelity but you're going to get something more out of the music
Yes I agree totally but so many audiophiles seem to think that accuracy is more important than sound quality - or at least they believe that accuracy will automatically ensure an entertaining listen!

No, leave accurate speakers in the recording studio where the engineer wants to hear what's bad in the recording so he can hopefully fix it before it gets into the hands of CD and vinyl pressers and streaming services. I was so disappointed with my "accurate" ATC Active 50 speakers (beloved of recording engineers) that I sold them within a year and bought my first Avantgardes - Unos in 2002. What a breath of fresh air! At last music sounded like it was live. Peter
 

caesar

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Yes I agree totally but so many audiophiles seem to think that accuracy is more important than sound quality - or at least they believe that accuracy will automatically ensure an entertaining listen!

No, leave accurate speakers in the recording studio where the engineer wants to hear what's bad in the recording so he can hopefully fix it before it gets into the hands of CD and vinyl pressers and streaming services. I was so disappointed with my "accurate" ATC Active 50 speakers (beloved of recording engineers) that I sold them within a year and bought my first Avantgardes - Unos in 2002. What a breath of fresh air! At last music sounded like it was live. Peter
Very Well Said! Having lived with different speaker technologies, how do you find/ perceive the presentation of the horns, and their directionality, different than those of box speakers? thanks

want to add that when I listen to these, I am so struck by virtues of their immediacy and realism , I forget to notice audiophile things like imaging, soundstaging, carving out of the recording venue in your room, etc.
 
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Blackmorec

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Very Well Said! Having lived with different speaker technologies, how do you find/ perceive the presentation of the horns, and their directionality, different than those of box speakers? thanks
Based on 50 years of hi-fi experience and moving around the World, I would say that room-speaker combo is far more important than speaker type per-se. Amongst others I have owned Avantgarde Duos and Trios with multiple subs, ported Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage and Extremas and sealed box Magicos, all chosen because they happened to be the best match for the room I had available at the time.

The Avantgardes needed a large room and plenty of distance to the listener, the Sonus Faber Extremas needed a large room with plenty of distance from walls, the Guarneris needed plenty of space but greater proximity to the front wall but near-field listening was great and the Magicos worked best in a smaller room with near-field listening position.

For me, different classes of speaker sound great in certain types of rooms, not as much in others.
 

Hear Here

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Very Well Said! Having lived with different speaker technologies, how do you find/ perceive the presentation of the horns, and their directionality, different than those of box speakers? thanks

want to add that when I listen to these, I am so struck by virtues of their immediacy and realism , I forget to notice audiophile things like imaging, soundstaging, carving out of the recording venue in your room, etc.
Thanks caesar. I agree rather with Blackmorec, although I'd state it rather differently. Speaker type should be decided upon depending primarily on the room it is expected to perform in.

I bought my first AGs when living in London with a very "easy" listening room (350 sq ft, 5 sided with big bay, 10 ft ceilings, fully carpeted, 100 year old soft plaster walls) and they were a breath of fresh air after ATC 50 Actives that I had convinced myself would be great - but weren't.

I later moved to a new-build flat 80 miles away with a semi-circular room of 945 sq ft with low 7'7 ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows on most of the curved wall, no carpets or curtains. As you can imagine, the sound was pretty dire.

As time went by, I carpeted 30% of the floor, added more soft furnishings and hung curtains. Things had hugely improved but I was thinking of changing to electrostatics. After buying a pair of used Quad 2905s as a trial, the results encouraged me to look towards Martin Logan 13A Expressions as they would be aesthetically much more acceptable than Quad's barn doors in the middle of my room. Sadly these were not at all good in my room as they need a wall behind them. Unfortunately there's 12 ft behind one speaker and 15 ft behind the other and that "wall" is an angled glass window. They had to go - at a big loss.

I also considered that, as my living room and kitchen are behind the speakers, I should consider omni-directional speakers. I recently visited showrooms to listen to the main contenders - German Physics and MBL Both impressed from their huge sweet-spot point of view, but both failed miserably with their imaging. This to me is of huge importance. I like a singer to be dead centre and (close your eyes and point) the instruments placed around with no ambiguity of where they are. I've now appreciated that in my room with no reflective back wall, horns are great. Also if you want ultimate imaging (and therefore the feeling of being at a live performance, again horns are the answer.

The disadvantages are the need for very exact setting up and the very small sweet spot. I now accept that the sound in my dining and kitchen areas is compromised, but this is more than made up for by the astonishingly realistic sound when I sit in my listening chair. I have no plans to change my horns, though I've been considering adding omni top-end drivers (German Physics DDD drivers) to the AGs in such a way that I can switch between the AGs horns and the DDDs but use the AG's bass enclosure with either. Sadly the big problem is sensitivity and I'm not looking at this fantastical idea very seriously!

So, my conclusion is choose your speaker type according to your room’s particular features and horns are possibly the best choice for getting round room problems and ideal for ultimate feeling of being at a live performance. I’m sure in more normal rooms, electrostatics would be a close match. I’ve sadly dismissed what should be ideal in my room (omnis) because they lack the imaging I highly value. Peter
 
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Skanda

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certainly, that makes a lot of sense. the m2's are a perfect size for my nyc apartment. the new place is a loft space with 30ft tall ceilings. I have never had to work acoustics in a room that large with that high ceilings. budget willing, i would love to make big speakers happen and that's where i'm thinking the trio's (or other big horns like cessaro liszt) could work.

incidentally, i found out that here (location undisclosed :D) has electricity prices nearly double that of NYC so the idea of big monoblock class a ss amps that i leave on all the time will be a very expensive endeavor on a monthly basis. in nyc, my kraft riles up quite an electric bill so i don't want to see what 2x those would be doing here lol. on the other hand, high ceilings should help mitigate some that heat. in any case, that makes me a bit more interested in high sensitivity speakers as i can get by on less power and tube amps etc would actually get turned off unlike ss gear which i prefer to leave on at all times (unless leaving for days at a time)
 

Hear Here

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high ceilings should help mitigate some that heat. in any case, that makes me a bit more interested in high sensitivity speakers as i can get by on less power and tube amps etc would actually get turned off unlike ss gear which i prefer to leave on at all times (unless leaving for days at a time)
I used SET amps for 15 years or so to power my Avantgardes, but I then made a positive attempt to move to SS for environmental and reliability reasons, but only if I could get equally satisfying sound. I bought or borrowed a dozen amps of various ss designs - Class A, AB and D, some very low powered and some seemingly far too powerful for AGs. In the end I chose a 200 watt Class D amp - in fact an all-in-one streaming amp. After a couple of years, not regrets at all. This relatively inexpensive amp has seriously mitigated the recent big speaker outlay! One box with no cables does all I want. No messing about with vinyl or any other analogue sources. Very happy.
 
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caesar

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Based on 50 years of hi-fi experience and moving around the World, I would say that room-speaker combo is far more important than speaker type per-se. Amongst others I have owned Avantgarde Duos and Trios with multiple subs, ported Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage and Extremas and sealed box Magicos, all chosen because they happened to be the best match for the room I had available at the time.

The Avantgardes needed a large room and plenty of distance to the listener, the Sonus Faber Extremas needed a large room with plenty of distance from walls, the Guarneris needed plenty of space but greater proximity to the front wall but near-field listening was great and the Magicos worked best in a smaller room with near-field listening position.

For me, different classes of speaker sound great in certain types of rooms, not as much in others.
Thanks for reply. Excellent advice.

I completely agree on the "right speaker for the right room" thinking. In my case, I just happen to hate 97 percent of box speakers out there. Wouldn't be in the hobby if that's all it was. And I love what the horns do - which are the exact things the box speakers don't do. But seems like you are more lucky than I am as you have more varied taste.
 

caesar

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I used SET amps for 15 years or so to power my Avantgardes, but I then made a positive attempt to move to SS for environmental and reliability reasons, but only if I could get equally satisfying sound. I bought or borrowed a dozen amps of various ss designs - Class A, AB and D, some very low powered and some seemingly far too powerful for AGs. In the end I chose a 200 watt Class D amp - in fact an all-in-one streaming amp. After a couple of years, not regrets at all. This relatively inexpensive amp has seriously mitigated the recent big speaker outlay! One box with no cables does all I want. No messing about with vinyl or any other analogue sources. Very happy.

I am usually a tube guy, but those 8 watt SS amps Avantgarde has built for the new Trios didn't make me crave for tubes. At $35K or whatever they are asking for them, it's not pocket change... but the good news is one can phase them in, when ready...

Curious how these Avantgarde amps would compare to an outboard SS amps you discovered
 

Hear Here

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Based on 50 years of hi-fi experience and moving around the World, I would say that room-speaker combo is far more important than speaker type per-se.
Interesting! My reasonably extensive experience indicates that the TYPE of speaker (sealed box, reflex, electrostatic, horn, omni) can be reasonably reliably predicted by the dimensions and other features of the listening room. However, after that crucial decision is made, I agree that the best speaker to suit the room's acoustics (within the predictable type) can only be assessed by home trials.

For example, my own very odd-shaped room is not good with electrostatics as I found to my cost a few years ago. Martin Logans (typical of most electrostatics) for example project 50% of their energy backwards and this needs a rear wall to harvest some of this energy. My room cannot provide this. Similarly box speakers don't excel in my room because of the lack of symmetry.

This leaves horns and omnis. In theory, as my dining and kitchen areas are behind the speakers, I should be looking at omnis. The trouble is, when I've heard omnis at showrooms (German Physics and MBL) I've found a huge loss of imaging at the prime listening position compared with horns. Granted the sound is much better than horns if listening off-axis, but the loss of imaging (for me anyway) is too big a compromise. Therefore I use horns with their small but perfectly formed sweet spot where imaging is second to none and room acoustics upset things to a lesser degree than other speaker types. This also has the advantage that room correction DSP can be avoided.
 

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Hear Here

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I am usually a tube guy, but those 8 watt SS amps Avantgarde has built for the new Trios didn't make me crave for tubes. At $35K or whatever they are asking for them, it's not pocket change... but the good news is one can phase them in, when ready...

Curious how these Avantgarde amps would compare to an outboard SS amps you discovered
I'm looking forward to hearing the new G3 Avantgarde speakers. Probable one of the Duos rather than the Trio would suit me.

I've always thought that "advanced" Active (as opposed to "primitive" Active which simply uses an active XO and multiple amps) is the way to go and AG are joining the likes of Dutch & Dutch in taking this exciting route. With everything (streamer, DAC, active XO, DSP on bass, and power amps) built into the speaker and all designed to work in harmony, that’s the future in my opinion.
 

caesar

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This leaves horns and omnis. In theory, as my dining and kitchen areas are behind the speakers, I should be looking at omnis. The trouble is, when I've heard omnis at showrooms (German Physics and MBL) I've found a huge loss of imaging at the prime listening position compared with horns. Granted the sound is much better than horns if listening off-axis, but the loss of imaging (for me anyway) is too big a compromise. Therefore I use horns with their small but perfectly formed sweet spot where imaging is second to none and room acoustics upset things to a lesser degree than other speaker types. This also has the advantage that room correction DSP can be avoided.
As far as MBL, and I guess other omni brands also, imaging is diffuse. You can tighten that up a bit, with SMT panels, but it will never be "pin point" as other speaker designs. But then again, you will be messing with the room... As everything in this hobby, it depends on one's preference and what one has been acclimated to. This doesn't bother me one bit, as the speaker puts me in a state of flow every time because of other virtues such as near-electrostatic transparency, dynamics, tone, and ability to carve out the recording space in one's room.
 

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