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Audiovector R6 Arreté Loudspeaker

Denmark has long since proven itself a hotspot of high-end audio design and production, yielding a veritable plethora (no, not of piñatas) of creative developments in acoustic transducers, otherwise known as loudspeakers. Consider, if you will, Audiovector—a brand brimming with unique technologies, each described via a smorgasbord of acronyms. Indeed, Audiovector uses so many of these abbreviations that, before I begin discussing the sonics of today’s tasty subject, the R6 Arreté floorstander, I suggest you grab yourself a Carlsberg and prepare for an acronym extravaganza of Danish proportions, all of which I feel obligated to explain.

However, before I turn to lexicography, some history. In 1979, Ole Klifoth founded Audiovector in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the intention of providing the global high-end market with a speaker of exquisite build and natural sonic character. Ole’s son, Mads, is now CEO of the family-owned company, which has been going strong for over 40 years. Ole’s original design principles, which highlighted linear dynamics, linear phase, and low compression, have remained the backbone upon which all Audiovector speakers are built, and are highlighted in its R Series lineup.

The R6 Arreté uses the advanced technology created for Audiovector’s R8 and flagship R11 speakers in a “more affordable” package intended for smaller rooms. The R6 (which comes in Signature, Avantgarde, and Arreté models) employs five drivers in its Signature and Avantgarde iterations and six drivers in the Arreté version, which adds a rear-firing 3″ midrange with its own dedicated crossover. The Avantgarde and Arreté utilize an AMT tweeter, while the Signature uses a dome model. All three versions house varieties of Audiovector’s new carbon drive units, built in Denmark with titanium-coil technology, massive ceramic-ferrite magnets housed on rigid, turbulence-suppressing, magnesium-alloy baskets, and driver membranes of cross-woven Aramid-composite carbon fiber. The two front-firing mid/bass drivers are 6.5-inchers; the isobaric bass-reflex woofer system utilizes internal down-firing 6.5″ and 8″ woofers; and the rear-firing 3″ midrange of the Arreté uses a paper cone to perfectly blend with the AMT dipole tweeter. (Mads says that “the dispersion characteristics of our hand-built mid/bass driver are perfect for a transition between the midrange and the AMT treble driver at around 3kHz. Indeed, it was engineered for that purpose.”) Crossover points are 100Hz, 350Hz, and 3kHz. A beautiful and well-designed carbon-fiber terminal plate is used to reduce interaction with the crossover, which is mounted directly behind the plate. Both spades and bananas are welcome. All models include IUC (Individual Upgrade Concept), LCC (Low Compression Concept), SEC (Soundstage Enhancement Concept), and NES (No Energy Storage) technologies. The Arreté also makes use of NCS (Natural Crystal Structure molecular realignment) and Audiovector’s unique FGC (Freedom Grounding Concept).

AUDIOVECTOR_r6

 

When I asked Mads how the technologies represented by these acronyms benefit the listener, he began by explaining “absolute phase”: “Our crossovers are special in the sense that all filtering is going on in the negative side. This means that a pulse from the plus terminal of the amplifier hits the plus pole of the drivers directly.” In addition, “the enclosures have no standing waves inside, which makes it possible to avoid degrading both dynamics and sensitivity by using a lot of dampening material. This translates to better dynamics and better sensitivity.”

You could claim that the enclosures are “form-follows-function” designs. The cabinet themselves are made from eleven layers of hardwood HDF, glued together and formed under heat and pressure to obtain the optimum shape. Their teardrop structure—in combination with their dense, strong, and heavy laminated rear baffles—further reduces resonances and minimizes standing waves. Once assembled, the cabinets are heavily braced internally and carefully damped with strategically positioned Nano Pore damping plates. This heavy internal bracing both supports the shells and forms the compartments for the treble, mid, lower-mid, and isobaric-loaded bass drivers. The rear-firing midrange sits in its own enclosure. So, the “NES (No Energy Storage) concept means that the treble and mid drivers are fixed at three elevated points to make sure that they are isolated from the enclosure’s mass as optimally as possible. And this again means that you get a clearer, more dynamic sound. Also, we avoid tensions in the baskets of the drivers this way.”

Mads explained that “the FGC (Freedom Grounding Concept) is quite new. The whole idea is that motion-induced energy stored in the drivers is drained away through a dedicated FGC filter and on to the FGC terminal, which can be connected to earth. This means that we avoid distortion and ‘resistance’ to free movement, lowering noise and adding to the sonic realism.”

Audiovector’s SEC (Soundstage Enhancement Concept) improves dispersion and lowers compression, resulting in better imaging. In addition, its AMT tweeter is installed within an Integrator Acoustic Lens, which also improves impulse response and dispersion, and helps the AMT better integrate with the midrange drivers. The LCC (Low Compression Concept) ensures that the driver membranes can move freely in demanding conditions with minimized compression. NCS (Natural Crystal Structure) in the Arreté models means that the internal “seven-nines” copper wiring is cryogenically treated to realign its crystal structure to improve clarity and resolution. And IUC (Individual Upgrade Concept) allows customers of lower or older models the ability to upgrade to the highest-tech current models, making all Audiovector speakers totally future-proof. (I think that’s enough acronyms for today.)

Finish options include piano white, piano black, piano African rosewood, and Italian matte walnut. Piano crayon (grey) is a special-order finish. Custom colors are available on request.

AUDIOVECTOR_R6_front

The R6 boasts a frequency response of 23Hz to 52kHz, a sensitivity of 91.5dB, and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms. Power handling is described as 450 watts. Essentially full-range performance with an easy load makes for flexibility in amplification. The R6’s ran as easily with my 18Wpc Lamm ML2’s as it did with my 200Wpc Dartzeel 8550 mk2 solid-state integrated. Switching between them changes the sonic flavor noticeably, but not the overall level of performance. Ole explained that “we have pioneered first-order function filters with just one component in series with each driver. This makes certain that the speakers are easy to drive, with an impedance curve with very low phase angles. This has been made possible, because we ourselves design the hand-built Scan-Speak-manufactured drivers to our specific needs. The treble drivers, we design and hand-build in Denmark at our factory. We have done so since 1984 to ensure uniform quality in every respect.”

As the subjective/objective, evaluate-the-gear-and-report-on-it guy (aka, the reviewer), it is my job to convey to you what these speakers do, how they do it, and if they are worth what they do for the cost of entry. In this case, that is both easy and difficult. When I set the Arretés up, I immediately noted their quality of craftsmanship and the obvious care that went into fabricating their unique design. Although by no means inexpensive, at $35k, the parts, materials, and build-quality certainly represent the price point and justify the expense. The fit and finish are simply exemplary.

As to the actual set-up process, the unique down-firing woofer/forward-ported design permitted remarkably easy placement. In addition, the AMT tweeter provided all the horizontal  dispersion I needed, but limited side dispersion, reducing wall reflection. As a result, stage width/depth and image density were excellent. The 3″ rear-firing midrange clearly added to dimensionality and depth of stage, as well as adding overall texture to the midrange.

Considering that this Audiovector is a six-driver design, I was surprised at how “of-a-piece” it sounded, never really calling attention to any of its individual parts. The R6 Arreté tolerated placement very close to the front wall, though losing bass depth and projecting the midrange forward (as expected) due to the reflection of that rear-firing 3″ driver. To truly shine the R6s preferred to be about 2–3 feet out into the room. This was the first moment (but not the last) that I told myself that these would make wonderful combo stereo/home-theater speakers in a true high-end theater. In the end, they settled at a point slightly farther apart and slightly closer to the front wall than many other speakers prefer to be—not a criticism, just a notation.

The sonic character of the R6 Arreté can generally be described as unconstrained and accurate, with an emphasis on resolution and natural detail. The AMT tweeter highlights that unconstrained, unlimited, detailed character, as it comes into play around 3kHz and, I’m pretty sure, rolls off just south of googolplex kHz. Its clarity and resolution are, at times, almost staggering, while always avoiding glare or brightness. A visual analogy would be comparing a 1080p screen to a 4k monitor. It’s not that there is more there; it’s just that the definition of what’s there is cleaner, crisper, and better resolved. Add to that an almost magically neutral midrange of miraculous speed, and you can see why I described them the way I did.

The lower midrange is full and well bodied but in no way voluptuous. The layering and tonal character provided is more that of striated layers of earth than, say, a seven-layer cake (why I settled on seven layers, I do not know). The overall reproduction is timbrally and harmonically rich like silk, not cashmere. My notes teem with words like “fast,” “dynamic,” “scale,” “punch.” But the “punch” frequently came without weight, as the low frequencies rolled off in the mid to high 20s in my smaller room (regardless of placement), and although present the bass lacked palpability. At times, the isobaric design sounded more like a sealed enclosure, highlighting speed and accuracy over weight and visceral impact. With the overall midrange neutrality and wide-open highs came a sense that the speaker was sometimes tipped up—that its needle tilted toward treble. Since it is certainly not a warm speaker, the detail and resolution highlighted the importance of matching it with electronics that do not accentuate those qualities. As a result, both the Dartzeel integrated and my Lamm monoblocks provided a nice synergy. I will warn that with poor recordings, you will know that they are poor. The R6 does not sugarcoat or soften anything.

As mentioned, depth and width of stage were expansive and meticulously recreated. Image location and dimensionality mirrored tonal accuracy, rendering the recording with almost laser-like focus and creating a true parallelogram-shaped stage. The perceived listening position was closer to the front of the audience, with expansive regions to the far left and right. Height seamed to attenuate around 52″ to 60″, which presented a realistic vertical stage from my listening position. The R6 Arreté did a very good job of vanishing within its soundfield, and I was (as I mentioned) stunned at the cohesion with which all those drivers hung together.

One of the truly unique features of these speakers is the FGC (Freedom Grounding Concept). A shared AC receptacle, connected to the ground post, runs a cable to each of the speakers where there is a dedicated banana jack in back. I kept these plugged in during the entire review, but disconnected them at the very end to see if I could determine what the FGC was doing. In all honesty, I may have identified a hair more clarity with FGC in the system, but the difference was subtle and difficult to specify. My room is custom built from the ground up with an isolated and dedicated electrical subpanel and grounding system. I would imagine the FGC would be more noticeably effective in a more “normal” listening environment.

Now we come back to my “easy and difficult” comment. It is easy to identify the technological prowess of the Audiovector R6 Arreté, its amazing ability to recreate and almost replicate the recording, and its masterful construction. But like other speakers with small woofers in an isobaric loading, the R6 Arreté favors speed and resolution in the bass rather than weight and authority. I prefer a speaker with more heft in the bottom end, although your tastes may differ. As I frequently do, I invited some reliable and trustworthy ears (connected to heads and bodies) over to enjoy the tasty ever-rotating treats in my room. As I expected, some of my guests absolutely fell for the R6, while others found them too resolving, or tilted up. For some, however, these speakers will check every box.

These are in a price range filled with serious contenders from many of the current premium manufacturers. When you go audition the R6 Arreté, I strongly suggest you bring music you love, not “audiophile” recordings, and spend time with your dealer matching the right gear. If you favor detail, dimensionality, clarity, and scale, then these need to be on your list. If you are looking for premium speakers for a combo stereo/home-theater system, they must be on your list. Naturally detailed and resolving, the R6 Arreté is taking on some well-established and imposing challengers, but Audiovector clearly created the R6 to stand firm against all comers.

Specs & Pricing

Driver complement: 2x 6.5″mid/bass; 1x 6.5″ bass/midrange drivers and 1x 8″ bass driver in Isobaric Compound Bass configuration; 1x 3″ midrange, 1x Audiovector AMT tweeter
Frequency response: 23Hz–52kHz
Sensitivity: 91.5dB
Impedance: 8 ohms
Power handling: 450W
Dimensions: 11″ x 48.6″ x 17″
Weight: 88 lbs. each (net), 115 lbs. each (shipping)
Price: $35,000 per pair

AUDIOVECTOR
P.J. Zornosa (USA Brand Manager)
(610) 853-9171
audiovector.com
[email protected]

Tags: AUDIOVECTOR FLOORSTANDING LOUDSPEAKER

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