AUDIO PHYSIC Avantera

MJ01.03.2013

Floorstanding loudspeakers

The Audio Physic’s HHCM midrange drivers are fantastic. The realism of both male and female vocals through the Avanteras is nothing short of magic. The Avanteras skillfully blend a cocktail full of colors, sonority, textures, details, energy and timbral accuracy, that is hardly heard with other speakers. It is so addictive that I wish that any speaker could have at least one HHCM in it.

Function and form

95%
Ease of use
64%
Sound
85%
Appearance

The Avantera's main features are: very slim and tilted back enclosures, tandems of side firing woofers, cone tweeters, dual midrange drivers and wide stabilizing feet. 

Excellent tweeters and midrange drivers are without any doubt the focal point of the Avantera. HHCT and HHCM, where HH stands for “hyper-holographic” and C for “cone”, are truly holographic drivers – this something I can attest from sharing several months with the speakers.  In the Avantera aluminum cones are used in all drivers. The Avantera employs two midrange HHCM drivers, each covering dedicated frequency bands. Thus one operates between 150-500Hz and the other between 500Hz-2,8kHz; the cross-over at 500Hz in fact exists only on paper as the tandem of the HHCMs is as seamless as possible - the Avantera is super-coherent and approximates to what TAD or KEF achieve with their concentric designs. This facilitates total disappearance of the speakers as sound sources in a room.

 

Bass management

Weight
64
Slam
59
Articulation
61

The bass section of the Avantera is designed in the typical Audio Physic fashion: two pairs of 18cm woofers (all active and connected in push-push tandems) radiate to the sides and are vented to the floor. Such the arrangement benefits from the bass energy distributed over a higher number of smaller cones that can be lighter and faster. The other benefit is the elimination of the floor-bounce null caused by the reflections from floor, usual with front firing woofers, resulting into smoother in-room response. The trade-off is the way the bass arrives to a listener’s ears – some claim that in principle it loses attack and definition. I did not experience neither of these with the Avantera, quite opposite. The big drums in  Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah (Reference Recordings, Exotic Dances from Opera) were, as far as the full orchestral attack and definition are concerned, among the best I had ever heard in absolute terms.

The timpani that rolls in at around 2´26 mark into Bacchanale was convincingly portrayed from the first stroke of its skin and when played really loud a minute later the orchestral climax swept the room with the energy that had to be felt two blocks away from the house. Despite the amount of the energy that was thrown into the room I never had a feeling that I was loosing anything from the speaker’s superb control and resolution. The drum maelstrom after 6‘ mark was palpably physical including the delicate and spicy detail of the variation in force with which the percussionist was hitting the instrument’s skin. For the Bacchanale is a firm part of my test discs portfolio I had opportunity to listen to it through many excellent speakers, with a lot of variation in what I heard. For example, the bass ranged from muscular and juicy (Wilson Audio Sasha W/P), controlled and dry (Focal JMlab Scala Utopia) and wonderfully textured (Bowers Wilkins 802 Diamond) to swift and smoothly impactful (Dynaudio Confidence C2 II). The Audio Physic Avantera did not outperform any of the previously mentioned speakers in what was considered their particular strength, yet somehow managed to make a blend of all aforementioned assets into the very balanced and tuneful bass performance. All of sudden, there was everything, yet in a less exposed manner than like singled out by the competitors.

Clarity & delicacy

Detail
81
Air
75
Transparency
72

No loss of fine detail is the motto of Audio Physic and the Avantera is indeed very good in revealing the tinniest and faintest ornaments in music. The fine brush of the Avantera removes sonic haze from breaths of singers in Gloucesterhire Wassail (Loreena McKennitt, A Midwinter´s Night Dream, Quinlan Road) or smacking lips of Son Seals in Love Had a Breakdown (Telarc). The cumulative effect fo such nuancees enriches the listening experience, especially when the detail is always integrated with the rest and does not show off in a cheap way. This is due to excellent dynamic capabilities of the speaker that handles fine dynamic contrasts with ease and does not throw spot light through dynamic compression like many others.

Tonal accuracy

Timbre
82
Dynamics
57
Temporal resolution
66

The timbre of a piano is harmonically rich and glowing through the Avanteras, however, when the program material asks, it can be crystalline clear and icy cold. The wood on the brass around 3´00 mark is very woody, the sharply defined tranzient of the drums‘ rim rings with realism and the riding cymbals around 5´10 are clean and microdynamically refined. My favorite sibilant test with Something Cool (The Best of Groove Note) that can be tricky for many speakers was something formal for the Avantera: the voice was projected well, with fine articulation and no hint of issues with „ss“ or „ff“. With flying colors The Avantera extracted a very fine detail of the air flowing through the saxophone – such nuancees are rarely heard even with the best speakers.

Spatial resolution

Holography
85
Soundstage width
76
Soundstage depth
90

The Avantera, like all Audio Physic speakers, can throw an expanding, deep and finely layered soundstage. The Avanteras simply left most competitors behind in how holographic they were and how efficiently they disappeared in the room. In direct one-to-one comparisons the Bowers  Wilkins 802 Diamond’s soundstage was not less expanding but less bottom-to-top seamless, the Focal JMlab Scala Utopias were laterally very limited, the Wilson Audio Sasha W/P‘s showed some frequency lumpiness, the Vienna Acoustics The Music could not entirely disappear and the Dynaudio Confidence C2 II were less transparent and precise. On the other hand, the BW Diamonds were audibly less ‘colored‘, the Focal Utopias were more airy on top, the Wilson Audio Sashas were more muscular and the Dynaudios more organic. Once again, the Avantera did not outperform any of the listed speakers in the single out attributes, however, as a whole, it outperformed all with ease. It also means that the Avanteras will appeal to the preferences of majority of listeners, as they have a lot of pros and no apparent cons.

Price as reviewed:335 000,- Kč

Recommended resellers

CZ: High-End Audio Studio, Praha, tel. +420 224 256 844

SK: Platan Audio, Hlohovec / Bratislava, tel. +421 905 409 802

Associated components

  • Sources: Accuphase DP-510, Ayre CX-7e MP
  • Amplifiers: Ayre K-5xe, Ayre P-5xe, Accuphase A-65, Accuphase C-2820
  • Interconnects and speaker cables: Cardas Audio Clear, Cardas Audio Golden Reference
  • Power cables: Cardas Audio Clear, Shunyata Research Black Mamba CX and Anaconda
  • Power conditioning: Accuphase PS-1220, Shunyata Research Hydra 6

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