Denmark is world renowned as a leader in design and style, particularly when it comes to furniture, fashion and toys. It is also in Denmark where LEGO - the world’s greatest toy - was born. It should come as no surprise then, that we also find a fashionable speaker company called Audiovector there. Audiovector was founded in Copenhagen in 1979, the same great vintage as the author of this article, by Ole Klifoth who at the time had been in the hifi sales business for eight years. During this time, Ole was exposed to a wide range of speakers but was never fully satisfied with what he heard, compared to the live music he regularly enjoyed in Copenhagen concert halls, jazz and rock clubs. It was this disconnect between reproduced and live music that drove Ole to design his first speaker, which immediately became a success. Today, together with his son Mads Klifoth, Audiovector designs and builds high quality speakers determined to reproduce live sound as accurately as possible - the very same goal that founded the company almost 40 years ago. Although I had heard about Audiovector earlier, I got my first chance to listen to their speakers at the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show in 2016. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mads Klifoth at the show.
DESIGN & FEATURES
Many traditional high-end speakers tend to be large, obtrusive and not particularly attractive in the looks department. Not to mention the high price of admission. The Audiovector QR series of speakers however, are none of that. This series is designed for those who love music, have a sense of style and don’t want to remortgage their house to buy a pair of speakers.
The QR series is the company’s most affordable line designed for the modern music listener, rather than the traditional audiophile. At the time I wrote this review, this series offered just two models - the QR1 bookshelf ($1,000 US) and the QR3 tower ($1,800 US). However by April 2017, the series will be expanded to include the QR Sub (subwoofer), QR Center (centre channel) and QR Wall (on-wall speaker) models (pricing to be announced). The QR3 model left a lasting impression on me at the TAVES Consumer
Electronics Show in 2016 thanks to its big sound, detailed highs and impressive bass. Hence we asked the Canadian distributor Tri-cell Enterprises to send us a sample for review. The QR3 is an elegant speaker, pretty enough that your significant other will likely not protest to having it in the living room, instead of relegating it to the basement. Housed in a cabinet that will feel comfy in just about any room, thanks to its compact dimensions (942 W x 190 W x 232 D mm). Its design marries a gold-plated AMT (Air Motion Tweeter) and dual 150 mm mid/bass drivers (consisting of an aluminum/glue/ aluminum “sandwich”). It has a sensitivity rated at 90 dB, impedance that ranges from 4 to 8 ohms, and a frequency response from 30 to 45 kHz. The AMT tweeter is a design that has trickled down from Audiovector’s higher-end speaker lines, and promises a detailed high frequency. The Q-port bass reflex design, ported at the bottom of the cabinet, enable the speaker to produce a deeper, more room-filling bass than other similarly sized speakers. To ensure a visual fit into any environment, the QR3 is available in three finishes: Dark Walnut (veneer), Silky White (flat) and Piano Black (glossy). The fit and finish of my Dark Walnut QR3 sample were excellent. If you wish you learn more about the technology behind the QR series, head over to www.audiovector.com.
During my tests, I tried these Audiovector speakers with a few different amps, including the Jeff Rowland Continuum S2, ModWright Instruments LS 100 tube preamp & KWA 100 amp, and the Unison Research Sinfonia tube amp. However, these speakers should work equally well with good quality, lower powered (and lower priced) amps because their 90 dB rating makes them easy to drive. The bottom-ported, bass reflex design of the QR3’s makes them easy to place in the room, since proximity to the rear walls does not affect their overall presentation as much as it does traditional rear-ported designs.
I began by listening to a few of my latest rock and alternative album purchases: Red Hot Chili Peppers “The Getaway”, Bros “Vol. 1”, Demics “Talk’s Cheap”, Shinedown “Leave a Whisper” and Mondo Cozmo “Shine”. What was immediately clear to me was that the QR3 is capable of producing a large, room-filling sound; bigger than you might expect from a speaker of its dimensions. It served up a great tonal balance, smoothly blending the highs, mids and bass. The allimportant midrange, where most voices and instruments play, offered a natural character and musicality. Guitars in Shinedown’s “Simple Man (acoustic version)” rang soulfully, with excellent definition and tonality. Lead singer Brian Smith’s dynamic, passionate and sometimes raspy voice was reproduced with fantastic energy and liveliness. “Go Robot” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, had me tapping my toes and dancing in no time. The heavily distorted guitars and angry vocals of the lead singer of the Demics on “New York City” made me want to take back a few beers, head down to a local bar and listen to live rock. Unfortunately I was performing these listening tests on a Monday evening. Yes, I was certainly enjoying the sound of the QR3.
Another strength of the QR3 design I quickly noticed was its reproduction of high frequencies. Most certainly this was thanks to the AMT transducer, which delivered crisp, clear and high definition playback. With jazz and classical recordings, this allowed instruments that reach into the
high frequencies such as violins, flutes, cymbals and triangles, excel in performance compared to traditional soft-dome tweeter designs. The AMT design also produced a much warmer tone than you would expect from a ribbon tweeter. The highs were very well integrated with the mid and bass frequencies, and never drew my attention or sounded harsh.
The bass performance of the QR3 is another characteristic that will impress most listeners - it’s also what initially attracted me to explore this speaker in more detail. Most “hifi” speakers tend to be light in the bass department but the QR3 is quite the opposite. Despite their size, these speakers are capable of deep but tuneful bass. The bass-reflex design radiates sound down, towards the plinth at the bottom of the speaker and hence operates much more independently of the rear wall than rear-ported speakers. This allows the QR3 to achieve a much more predictable and controlled performance. Songs with great bass lines from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the TRON: Legacy soundtrack played with impressive dynamics and weight. And it wasn’t just a single-note kind of bass, no - the QR3 offered a respectable amount of articulation and low bass detail. Asaf Avidan & the Mojos’ “One Day / Reckoning Song” played with thumping, deep notes and loaded my room with enough bass to get a dance party started - just add a few friends.
Of course, no speaker in the world is perfect. Layered soundstaging is not the strongest suit of the QR3. This speaker was not capable of delivering the same level of depth or width of soundstage that I’ve become accustomed to from my system. Rather than positioned in a three dimensional space, the instruments played in a flatter plane. But let’s not forget that the components in my system cost many times the price of these speakers. And to be fair, soundstaging and pin-point accuracy are not something that floor-standing speakers are known for, that’s why many music listeners turn to bookshelf speakers if they want to hear superb soundstaging.
During my tests, I also found the QR3 to perform its best with recordings that offered fewer complex passages. As more instruments and voices were introduced into the mix, the sound became less resolved and slightly congested, in the case of large classical recordings.
All in all, the Audiovector QR3 speaker is an excellent choice for younger listeners interested in exploring what high-end audio is all about, without having to spend a fortune. It is an equally great choice for those building a hifi system with a limited budget. This speaker will allow you to peer deeper into the details of your music and provide a great level of engagement. The combination of performance and excellent build quality, make the QR3 a smart choice over any mass produced speaker brand that you’ll find in a big box store. It’s lifestyle appearance and small footprint will also make it feel right at home, even in a small, big-city condo. Give it a listen today and you just might get hooked.