Au­dio Physic Avanti

FOR Crisp, ar­tic­u­late sound; fine build; clever en­gi­neer­ing AGAINST Sound ap­peals to the head more than the feet

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“We’re im­pressed by the lovely glossy fin­ish too, and ev­ery panel lines up just so, giv­ing the Avan­tis the air of qual­ity de­signer fur­ni­ture”

Why should you buy Au­dio Physic’s Avan­tis when there are a mul­ti­tude of bet­ter-known speak­ers from the likes of B&W, Fo­cal and PMC? At first glance that’s not an easy ques­tion to an­swer. The Avanti looks like just another pre­mium two-way floor-stander, and the world is hardly short of those.

But those fa­mil­iar with the brand – prob­a­bly not so many in the UK, ad­mit­tedly – know that these tow­ers are likely to have con­sid­er­able sub­stance. Over its 30-year his­tory, Au­dio Physic has turned out more than its fair share of fine speak­ers, and this cur­rent Avanti can be counted among them.

Where’s woofer?

De­spite ap­pear­ances, these floor­standers are three-way de­signs. The tweeter and midrange driv­ers are ob­vi­ous enough, but where’s the bass unit? Usu­ally, it would be found on the front or one of the sides, but here it’s hid­den in­side the cab­i­net, mounted to the base, and ported through a slot be­low the front baf­fle.

Here’s where things get re­ally in­ter­est­ing. The woofer – a 22cm pa­per-cone unit that crosses over to the midrange at around 130Hz – fires through the base. Take a look un­der the speak­ers and you’ll find the base isn’t the usual ve­neer-cov­ered wooden board but is made of ceramic foam. This por­ous ma­te­rial not only adds strength to the speaker’s struc­ture but also al­lows the sound from the driver to pass through.

The un­usual bass ar­range­ment helps make the speak­ers less fussy about room place­ment. It works, the Avan­tis sound­ing bal­anced across a wide range of po­si­tions. We wouldn’t put them right up against a wall or in a cor­ner, but given a lit­tle room to breathe they’re per­fectly happy.

At the other end of the fre­quency spec­trum, what ini­tially seems like a con­ven­tional dome tweeter turns out to be a far less com­mon cone de­sign. It uses a 38mm alu­minium di­aphragm. The me­tal theme con­tin­ues with the 13cm midrange, which – like the tweeter – uses an elas­tic damp­ing ring along the outer edge of the cone to con­trol res­o­nances. The midrange’s chas­sis is un­usual too. It uses a plas­tic bas­ket in­side the alu­minium frame to de­liver a struc­ture that com­bines rigid­ity, low res­o­nance and an el­e­ment of de­cou­pling. Clever.

Struc­tural in­tegrity

The same could be said of the cab­i­net. In­side it’s solidly braced, and lined us­ing more of that ceramic foam, which not only adds to rigid­ity but also im­proves the vi­bra­tion damp­ing of the en­clo­sure.

We’re im­pressed by the lovely glossy fin­ish too, and ev­ery panel lines up just so, giv­ing the Avan­tis the air of qual­ity de­signer fur­ni­ture – an im­pres­sion re­in­forced by slanted de­sign.

There are sev­eral fin­ishes avail­able, from the usual wal­nut, black ash and cherry to the fetch­ing ebony of our re­view sam­ple. For an ex­tra £1000, there’s also a pre­mium all-glass op­tion, which looks stun­ning in the right sur­round­ings.

No devils in this de­tail

Au­dio Physic’s com­pany motto is ‘No Loss Of Fine De­tail’. Not the catchi­est tag line, but it de­scribes the sound of the Avan­tis pretty well. Con­nected to our usual ref­er­ence sys­tem – Naim’s NDS/555PS streamer, the Clea­r­au­dio In­no­va­tion Wood turntable, Cyrus’s Sig­na­ture phono stage/psxr2 and the Gamut D3i/d200i pre/power com­bi­na­tion – these speak­ers im­press.

Our first im­pres­sion is of a re­mark­ably clean pre­sen­ta­tion. The Avan­tis de­liver an up-front and de­tailed sound that pos­i­tively brims with agility. Give them a sparse record­ing such as The xx’s An­gels and they shine, ren­der­ing the group’s vo­cals with con­sid­er­able fi­nesse.

The Au­dio Physics cap­ture the sub­tlety and emo­tion of the track beau­ti­fully, with each part of the min­i­mal in­stru­men­ta­tion ren­dered with breath­tak­ing crisp­ness. Lead­ing edges are su­perbly de­fined, but never over-em­pha­sised. It’s an ar­tic­u­late sound too, right from the low­est bass notes up­wards.

Tonally, things are a touch brightly lit, a lit­tle lean and can be pro­voked with ag­gres­sive record­ings or edgy sys­tems. But if care­fully matched, the pre­sen­ta­tion re­mains bal­anced enough to con­vince. The in­te­gra­tion be­tween the three driv­ers is seam­less, which points to a care­fully cal­i­brated cross­over.

The Avanti’s low-end is pleas­ingly taut and punchy, and de­liv­ered with far more au­thor­ity than most would credit from such a slim­line tower – these floor­standers may be 109cm tall but they’re only 17cm wide. This helps to make them an un­ob­tru­sive ad­di­tion to any lis­ten­ing room.

Ex­tended sea­sons

Switch to Vi­valdi’s Four Sea­sons and these speak­ers re­spond pos­i­tively. They cast an ex­pan­sive sound­stage that ex­tends well be­yond their phys­i­cal form. It’s nicely lay­ered and sta­ble, even when the mu­sic gets busy. We’re also im­pressed by the Au­dio Physics’ com­po­sure. They al­ways sound un­flus­tered, re­gard­less of the mu­sic’s com­plex­ity or, to a large ex­tent, vol­ume level.

Dy­nam­i­cally, the Avan­tis are pretty good. They de­liver large-scale swings with con­fi­dence, though by the high­est stan­dards (and we must ap­ply those here) they stop just short of con­vey­ing the ebb and flow of Vi­valdi’s mu­sic with to­tal con­vic­tion.

Ra­dio­head’s In Rain­bows shows another mi­nor crack in the Au­dio Physic’s case. For all their con­sid­er­able tal­ents, these speak­ers aren’t par­tic­u­larly great at com­mu­ni­cat­ing rhythms. While each note is de­fined with clar­ity, they aren’t strung to­gether well enough to con­vey the hard-charg­ing mo­men­tum of

15 Step with the en­ergy it de­serves. This short­fall doesn’t go so far as to spoil our en­joy­ment, but it cer­tainly takes it down a notch.

Pow­er­ful pros

We still like the Avan­tis, though. They’re smart, el­e­gant and packed with clever en­gi­neer­ing. Their sound brims with agility and clar­ity, and it’s all backed up with class-lead­ing build and fin­ish. They’re worth a se­ri­ous au­di­tion.

Sev­eral fin­ishes are avail­able – in­clud­ing a stun­ning all-glass op­tion – each one built to the high­est stan­dards

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