Au­diovec­tor

QR3 Loud­speak­ers

NOVO - - REVIEW - by Suave Ka­jko

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.

PER­FOR­MANCE

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.

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