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Arx A2 Review

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  • Arx A2 Review

    I’d like to take a second to comment on my experience with Arx A2’s running as L/C/R.
    My first impressions of the A2’s were VERY positive! They arrived well packaged and the build quality of these speakers was immediately apparent. As instructed I adjusted the tweeter configuration on the 2 speakers that would pull L/R duty and was presently surprised by the internal bracing and care in manufacturing. My initial comment was that the Arx line appealed to my own sense of worth by spending money where it counts, not on making the enclosure more attractive.

    After hooking them up, I ran a quick multipoint calibration leaving the Bass Reflex ports open on all 3 speakers. For a first listen I turned on the opening 10 minutes of Transformers 2, and to my surprise it got the attention of my Fiancé from the other side of the apartment. She was amazed at how much of an improvement the A2’s were to the SVS speakers, and demanded to know how much I spent! Once I told her that they were in the same price range she was a huge fan!

    I let the speakers break in a bit by letting a playlist of RANDOM music play on them at moderate volume while I was at work, and they would get TV/Movie duty in the evenings. Even during the initial break in period it was apparent that the A2’s were a special speaker. Even watching things like “Mike and Molly” sounded rich and exciting, and I noticed American Idol was getting some extra volume.

    After 1-2weeks of this type of “break in” I recalibrated the speakers and decided on plugging the center speaker and letting it cross over at 80Hz due to its location inside the TV stand. After that I started to really listen to these speakers.

    For Movies they have a larger than life presence and paint a soundstage much larger than the room they are placed in. How to Train your Dragon was a delight to watch and I had to keep reminding myself that there was not a subwoofer installed. The speakers are highly dynamic and completely disappear regardless of seating position. Dialogue has a lot of weight but I felt like it could be a little more forward. This could be due to the position of the center channel.

    Music is much tougher on speakers, and I spent a great deal of time with positioning and seating before passing judgment. I have used the same playlist structure for over 10 years, it always starts out with some delicate tracks that have only a few instruments and solid vocals and progress to much more aggressive music. Everything I listen to is very familiar to me, and I have a “reference point” in my head, sometimes to fault (I’ve never heard Diana Krall sing to me unamplified, so my idea of reference is subject to what I feel is correct).

    In this price category the A2’s exceeded what I thought was possible. I was starting to believe that everything would have that “kept” feeling and I’d just have to accept that listening to music on my HT system (at this budget) would be…meh. The A2’s completely changed that idea. I was continuously surprised by the weight and “fun” these speakers brought to music. The amount of low end available with these speakers prompted me to play some DubStep (low bass techno stuff) and just sit back in amazement. Granted these speakers don’t have the authority of a subwoofer or some floor standers, but I can tell you that they play deep, and without distortion. I actually enjoyed being able to hear the lower end of music without having to worry about bothering the neighbors, and am happy to say that they have a more natural bass than 12” Cerwin Vega floor standers (old garage speakers).

    Another area that surprised me was how well the A2’s filled the room. My listening area is 14 X 22, but is open to the Kitchen and Dining room…pretty much everything that’s not a bedroom in my 1200sqFt apt. While cleaning or doing laundry the A2’s were just as rich and enjoyable everywhere in the apartment.

    For “critical” listening they also performed admirably. They have a very convincing soundstage that is multidimensional at times. While listening to the chorus of Willie Nelson’s, “Maria” I had to double check that the receiver was indeed in 2ch mode and there were no rear effects on. Everything I listened to from Nora Jones and John Mayer to the Sick Puppies and Avenge Sevenfold was entertaining. To clarify, I would rather just NOT listen to music on previously reviewed speakers in this price range.

    With everything I listened to, music and movies, there was a reoccurring theme: deep, natural, undistorted bass, great soundstage, but the midrange could be a bit more forward. This is the first set of MTM speakers that I’ve auditioned for music (the SVS speakers just weren’t fun to listen to with music). I expected the midrange to be a little more “in my face” than it was, not harsh, just more… With the presence of 2 mid drivers and a planer mag tweeter I expected to be almost overwhelmed by dialogue and vocals, this was not the case. The A2’s are laid back and have a great deal of weight.

    Overall, I think the A2’s are a superb offering and perform well above their price range.

    For both movies and music they are dynamic, fun, and non-fatiguing. While I’m sure the addition of a subwoofer will further add to the enjoyment of these speakers, they stand on their own with authority. My only criticism is that I would like a little more articulate midrange presence, but I must reveal that I compare everything to the Focal Utopia 165W’s in my car (bi-amped, 150/channel to mids, 75w/channel to tweeters, high end cables and sources). In fact the “laid back” sound to the A2’s is VERY welcome for TV viewing. It’s nice to have the added depth and dynamic range to shows without the overly bright I’M USING MY HOME THEATER TO WATCH COMMERCIALS feeling that is so often the case with “high-fi” equipment (e.g. using some Boston Acoustic CR9’s as a stand in prior to the A2’s arrival).

    I would honestly recommend the A2’s for R/C/L duty to 95% of the people I know. The other 5% have either been exposed to much higher end equipment, or would simply want something finished “prettier” without caring how they sounded.

    One last note, The Audio Insider, specifically Jon Lane is an absolute dream to deal with. It’s refreshing to find a company head that has that level of enthusiasm and knowledge while still taking the time to provide personalized customer service.

  • #2
    Fasian: Outstanding thread, sir.

    I'd like to direct your attention to the A5 prototype thread for some neat pix of the ARX midwoofer (used across the ARX line). I think it will cause you to admire your A2's even more than you already do. :)