Avantgarde Acoustics

Had a trip to my dealers today, and had one of those experiences HiFi seldom gives, but stay with you forever…

I went initially to hear the new Wilson Speakers he had in - hugely expensive at £180k a pair - and in a system where the cost was over £600k - but utterly underwhelming. Sounded ok on some tracks - really lost focus on others. Rhythms all over the place. Revealing to a fault I’d say. I’m nowhere near that market in terms of price - but was surprised how happy I was to leave the room. I couldn’t live with them.

Just as we were leaving (I was there with my wife) and having given the feedback, and noted that others that had listened had also been considerably underwhelmed - Paul said “have a listen to these…” …and we were ushered into one of his other rooms.

There were the Avantgarde Acoustics Duo ND - hard to miss upon entering the room, but beautifully made and finished in Germany. They sell at £35k - so not a snip by any means - but a drop in the ocean compared to what we’d just heard, and similarly priced to my current speakers.

They were hooked up with an Audio Research pre and mono power amps, and a DCS Rossini streamer. System price - around £80k - so again - similar to my own investment, albeit down a very different track.

From the first moment of the first track they just sounded right - they disappeared in the room, filling it with music, with PRODIGIOUS bass, but and easy to listen to sound. Loads of rhythm too - fast and accurate.

I’ve never been enamoured with DCS - and I’ve heard Audio Research sound good, but not great. This whole system sounded utterly amazing.

Super flexible colour options too - from funky to understated.

My lovely wife thought exactly the same - they were amazing. One of those HiFi epiphanies. Wow :star_struck:

I’m looking at the range, and the model above (the Duo Mezzo X D) has horn loaded bass - instead of the active bass that the Duo ND has. The suggestion is that these are the star of the range.

I’ve booked to hear them with Naim when they land - will be super interesting.

…anybody else heard anything from these guys? …definitely worth a listen. And I could get used to the looks!

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Matt, you are suffering from the dreaded 90° rotation. I suspect you are posting from your iPhone and it’s such a pain. If you very slightly crop each photo and repost, they should then be fine. @Richard.Dane is on the case with the developer.

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Think I’ve sorted it - never seen that before!

Thanks :pray:

Heard the Duo at Deco Audio and the Trio’s at Criterion Cambridge. Can’t remember the gear they were with apart from the top spec LP12 front end on the Trio’s.
The two best systems I have ever heard bar none and far from the most expensive. If I had the money and the space I would be a Duo owner. They were both just effortless and musical.

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That’s super interesting - and quite a statement!

I was just blown away by exactly that sound….effortless and musical. I’ve never heard a room as full of music - but still with the ability to follow what the band were playing. My wife and I have just spent all dinner talking about exactly that….

…I did think they were rhythmally snappy too - so I’m thinking they might meld with Naim really well :relaxed:

The Duo XD are extremely sensitive speakers:

“For 94 decibels of sound pressure at a distance of one meter, this speaker needs just 0.07 watts of power. Seven watts would be somewhat normal, 0.7 watts already a sensation – but 0.07 watts reads like a typo.”

It would probably be counterproductive to hook them up to a beefy Naim power amp. A well designed low power amp rated at 5-10W would probably sound better en will be enough to rock the house!

I have not heard the Avantgarde’s, but the beginning of your story reminded me of a visit I had at a Manhattan Hi-Fi shop years ago. I was not a customer but casually aquatinted with the staff and they were always gracious to let me visit and listen. On this visit I asked to listen to a big Wilson/Spectral system, Grand Slamm’s was the speaker model. The sales associate was surprised I wanted to hear that system but off I went for an hour with a stack of familiar CDs. When I came out he said “what did you think?”… I shrugged and told him I expected something better for $500,000. He laughed and ushered me into a smaller demo room with a LP12/202/200/BW’s. He spun Paul Simon’s Graceland on that system and I was blow away. It was so much better at 1/20th the price. The salesman told me everyone who worked there owned Naim at home.

I don’t think much has changed in 20 years. I’ve heard the latest behemoths from Wilson and they left me the same empty feeling. Those Avantgarde’s look cool… I’ve always wondered how they sounded.

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If I remember a little harder, the Deco system was sourced with a top loading CD player, have no idea which one. The amp was something they were developing themselves I think. I clearly remember the music, These New Puritans. It was astounding. I also listened to Paul Simon, his eponymous record and ‘Duncan’ and ‘Papa Hobo’ were just so real.
The LP12 was running through either Burmester or Nagra amps, I remember the silver, but not the details. This time I played Gone Till November, Wyclef Jean and some Joanna Newsome. Again, the sound was effortless, musical and natural.
I’ve heard some very expensive systems, but these two stand out. They had one thing in common and that was the Avantgarde horns.

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A relative has these (Trios?). This pic is from a while ago - back then they were in a side room about 4x4m even though he had an enormous living room. He’s in Sri Lanka - the AA CEO was holidaying there, came over for dinner and was pleading for them to move into a larger space. He was using some 7 watt mono valve amps. A level of transparency I don’t think conventional speaker designs are capable of.

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Have heard them many times. Wonderful speakers with the right amps but that won’t be Naim.

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I heard the AvantGuarde a couple years back into a maxed out Accuphase DAC/pre/power system. Like the OP I was at my dealer for something else but I wandered into the dem room and there they were.

A little warm for my taste but the authority and command they had for piano and vocal was undeniable. I think if jazz was your main preference, they’d be hard to fault. Visually I couldn’t get along with exposed horns but they certain sounded good.

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It’s interesting. The reaction to horns is almost always “I think they’ll do this well” almost in a pejorative sense implying that there’s a weakness because they can only cover some of the bases not all. I must admit I fell for this too. Nowadays I tend towards the view they do everything superbly but stripped down music best of all. If you ever get a chance to hear them again I recommend trying some electronic stuff like Kraftwerk or something like Queens of the Stone Age. They will blow you away. I have never heard anything quite like it.

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How funny you should say that! …there is a mix of Kraftwerks “La Forme” by Hot Chip, that’s one of my test tracks - and I did indeed play it yesterday!

I also played “Match Cut” by c418 - that sounded superb too…

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I think the horns look great, i kind of like the industrial grey variant of these speakers too i must say

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I could see somewhere on google pics a system with Avant Garde Duo XD with a Nova. A well known US dealer was showing it.
But more often they are shown with tubes amps or Avant Garde own class A amps.

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Some years ago I heard the Duo’s two times a few weeks apart. Powered by an Audio Note Ongaku. Immensely impressive and indeed, never heard anything like it. It’s hard to believe only a few watts can sound so powerful and dynamic. Their size and looks would be divorce material in my living room though.

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Hi,
I have never heard the Avantgarde,
But I have been very interested in them.
Then, after researching and hearing the opinions of various contacts, I settled on Acapella.
And now I am a happy owner of Basso Nobile.
I could talk long about Acapella horns, the famous Plasma tweeter, Alfred Rudolph, and so on.
But I don’t think it is useful, in the end what matters is how they sound according to the personal parameters of each of us.
For me, aesthetics also counted, but it doesn’t have to be so for everyone.
As I was saying, in the end after researching both Avantgarde and Acapella I found an interesting offer on used Acapella, and the dealer was closer to me and more comfortable (covid limit).
To make a long story short, in the end I was convinced and got the Basso Nobile, which were not the interesting offer mentioned above, but maybe they fit more to the genres I listen to than the used ones on offer. Plus they are two-way and don’t have the Plasma tweeter to power and service.
As the name suggests their strength is the bass, which surprised me, much the same as Naim did in the same field.
Initially I started with the Avantgarde aesthetic (which I fell in love with), then of course I inquired if they were “good” as well as beautiful, while I discovered Acapella which from my research was “better”.
I would have liked to compare them, but in addition to the fact that it is difficult to do,
with the same or almost the same conditions (if the conditions are quite different, room, system etc., comparisons do not make sense to me, and in fact I find most of the comparisons useless), in the end I did not do it because I did not feel the need after hearing the Basso Nobile.

TL;DR: I have very similar speakers and I’m very happy with them, the version I got sounds good in my opinion with almost any genre and has great bass.In my opinion from what I’ve read and heard with Avantgarde you can’t go wrong, although maybe with Acapella you’d get something more audiophile and better sounding. Give them a listen if you can and are interested, or if you’re happy with the Avantgarde sound, go for the Avantgarde.
In my opinion, you won’t go wrong no matter what your final decision is.

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That is exactly what horns are. But high sensitivity means amps are critical - e.g. hiss needs to be low or will become dominant in quiet passages or when listening quietly.

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Indeed. I have a pair of 98db speakers (not horns though). Pairing them with my 282/250 wouldn’t cross my mind in a hundred years. I have a 10w tube amp that has a noise floor my Naim system can’t get close too. Crank the amp up with nothing playing and put your head close to the drivers: absolute utter silence.

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They slightly remind me of the time an ear shaped fungus grew out of the kitchen wall in a house I use to share 30+ years ago. It wasn’t red though.

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