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ARX A5 Tower prototypes... Group Buy UPDATE on pg 2!

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  • ARX A5 Tower prototypes... Group Buy UPDATE on pg 2!

    I know I'm a HUGE tease for only posting a few pictures, but here it is:










    Jon has in my hands a prototype pair of ARX A5 tower speakers. Brief specs:

    • 3 XBL2/splitgap motor 5.25" midwoofers.
    • 1 dedicated midrange with non-moving phase plug and multiple copper shorting rings.
    • 1 ARX tweeter.
    • 1 ingenious crossover network that Jon has been fine tuning (by ear) since late 2010.
    • Tunable ARX cabinet bass reflex port (tweeter and mid are in separate sub-enclosure).
    • 6-ohm nominal load (very benign and EASY to drive....NO 3-ohm dips or other anomalies).
    • Crossover designed from the outset with high current bi-amplification in mind.


    They sound massive. The A5's sound ten feet tall and the soundstage is so wide that my wife has been repeatedly startled when watching movies in stereo direct by sounds she thought were coming from BEHIND her. Articulate and dynamic bass down to the low 40hz range in my 22x24ft listening space. They integrate perfectly with my eD A7s-450.

    They've been driven so far by an ultra-cheap Yamaha surround receiver from ~2005 (read: bottom of the line from b*st buy) and by my Arcam AVR300 using 12awg pre-terminated speaker cable. While they respond superbly to high current amplification (like the toroidal power supply in my 120wpc X2 [in stereo] Arcam AVR300), they also sound darn impressive on low-current budget receivers and amplifiers.

    Most importantly, they are MUSICAL. Music just comes to life on the A5's! The Rolling Stones 'Shine A Light' on Blu-Ray is simply stunning.

    They are due in fall of 2011 (not long!)...I can verify that there isn't a tower speaker anywhere NEAR these in price/performance......

    More to come.....;)

  • #2
    Sadly I picked up a pair P363s with the PC351 already...Jon didn't respond to my question on the ETA of these in the other thread earlier this month, though I understand the reasons for this.

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    • #3
      Jterp, I'm really sorry for this. Jon has been really busy and I'm sorry he hasn't gotten in touch with you.

      Just to be clear, you're referring to a pair of Infiniti P363 towers?

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      • #4
        Yes I am. Buford, to be honest your review + my experience with the Asub (is there going to be a successor?) almost sold me on the A3.

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        • #5
          Jterp, the Infiniti towers are a really solid value at their on-sale price point. They don't have any glaring weaknesses. BUT, they also don't have anything that makes them sound 'special'. I can't fault you for buying them...they are a safe choice. You could easily spend twice as much and get the same performance that they offer.

          But, back to the A5's, the midrange in it is simply phenomenal. It is smooth, but so delicately articulate that it amazes me. I finally feel that I'm taking advantage of the quality amplification (and DAC's) found in my Arcam AVR300. Music just comes alive.

          Best example: The Rolling Stones 'Forty Licks' 2-disc set is one of my favorite albums. The A5's bring back dynamics, clarity, and treble open-ness that I thought was long-lost to the annals of time and decay. It's all there...albeit with some hiss from the recording media of the time. I'm very impressed with Jon's handiwork.

          The mid works so smoothly with the tweeter, that I never put the grills on. There's no fatigue...just tons of clarity. You can probably see all the dust on the drivers in the pix above, now you know why. ;)

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          • #6
            A quick note to thank BTJ for sharing his experiences and views. The A5 was an interesting development and like him, we found it to have an enormous soundstage and excellent dynamics.

            Development took dozens of hours of tuning on top of probably twice that many in measurement and modeling, but the model really came together once the crossover coordinates revealed themselves, which was a trick. The lower crossover is a classic first order transfer function, and the upper point is designed for good power handling and off-axis continuity. In hindsight I think these characteristics are why BTJ and ourselves find the design fast and open.

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            • #7
              Jon, I think you're being too humble by simply referring to the upper portion of the crossover as a 'trick'. It's a hell of a lot more ingenious than that. AND it sounds fantastic along with being easy to drive.

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              • #8
                no comment about a sequel to the Asub? ;)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BufordTJustice
                  Jon, I think you're being too humble by simply referring to the upper portion of the crossover as a 'trick'. It's a hell of a lot more ingenious than that. AND it sounds fantastic along with being easy to drive.
                  Thanks.

                  It's common to think of a crossover as an arbitrary, designer-chosen point and slope just dialed into the mix before product starts shipping. It's actually determined by a set of conditions imposed by the drivers on the design and designer that limit them to what's usually only a good filter strategy; sometimes better, sometimes worse.

                  In the A5's case, it's a very narrow range of values in what's really only one option of filter networks. I also suspect a lot of majors don't bother to find them, but that's just me speculating based on what I hear out there.

                  Many times you can walk the halls at an audio show listening for what sounds right without ever entering the room. For 30 years I've tended to hear just a small handful of designs each year with this musical characteristic, and all of them are in the "high-end" areas. Most popular, big-brand designs just sound like parts in a box, infrequently rising to sound like great hifi and almost never sounding truly, engagingly musical.

                  The industry is obsessed by measurements, theory, and frankly, being brighter or bassier or more forward than the rest of the speakers in the shop. The odd thing is that if they're willing to put the effort and investment in, they'd get something that really stands out in a comparison, which is dimensional, harmonic, and even emotional realism.

                  Our goal is to make the sound that immersive. We want to suspend disbelief and make the gear disappear. All of our unique designs have our best effort in them to provide this possibility for your great system and great software -- oddly, the musical speaker almost ceases to be a link in the chain, at least psychologically, because we all know it has an order of magnitude more inherent distortion than an amplifier. Yet the ear hears and the ear prefers what it will, regardless of a preponderance of popular theory.

                  Naturally, every speaker has its limits, but a well-tuned design can provide a nice sense of involvement without any mental work on the part of the listener while he listens. Here's an example, and I think that while the design is much different, the result is similar: Dig down to the design's fundamentals, and extract all you can for the product class and budget.

                  We want an effortless listening experience, free from fatigue and that all too common shrill hifi sound. We want maximum musical content presented faithfully and without personality. If the A5 can do that, great.

                  I'm pleased that for the A5 we could find a simple network to install between the drivers that integrates them well and gives us both a flat response and a great platform to voice the speaker well along toward strong musicality.

                  So the trick is to find that single "point in space" that merges the drivers in at least three primary ways - flat on-axis, decent power response off axis, and a well-damped, non-reactive impedance magnitude and benign phase angle.

                  From there, make it sound good. :cool:

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jterp7
                    no comment about a sequel to the Asub? ;)
                    Actually we've got the design sketched in but for now the A5 has to take precedent for new Arx models. Even though we're having our best year yet, in this economy we're being cautious until some sense of reform tackles the mess Washington DC and Wall Street have made of things.

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                    • #11
                      The ARX midwoofers are kindof a misnomer. They are done a GREAT deal of injustice by being called a midwoofer. They are every bit of a woofer. Enormous XBL2/Splitgap magnet structure, plenty of excursion clearance, cast metal basket (for strength and effective heat removal from the motor), vented pole piece, long tinsel leads, etc. They move substantial amounts of air.

                      However, the ARX midwoofer is done an equal injustice by being called a midwoofer. It is every bit an excellent midrange, with extremely low distortion (roughly 30% less than other motor designs), copper shorting ring, even dispersion, high cone breakup frequency, and an even response deep into the low 'tweeter' territory (flat extension far above their ~2.25kHz crossover frequency).

                      SO, we're left with a compromise in name only. :)











                      Last pic is of the ARX midwoofer resting on the floor next to a standard size DVD jewel case, for size reference.

                      With the short XBL2/Splitgap voice coil & former, excursion is generous. X-max (excursion within the MUCH-reduced distortion limits) of an estimated 9-10mm...one-way.

                      As per the usual XBL2/Splitgap design, max clean excursion is typically twice the thickness of the top plate. I measured the top plate to be just over 11mm in thickness. So a conservative estimate of clean two-way excursion is ~18mm. There is even more raw mechanical clearance in addition to that.

                      Without sounding cocky, I am fairly confident that you will not find another midwoofer/driver using this level of quality and technology in the ARX A1/2/3/5's price range. And we haven't even gotten to the planar tweeter yet...

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                      • #12
                        A re-post from Jon at Audioholics forums:

                        "I believe this is true. Neodymium costs have gone up ten times since Arx came to be, and labor is also rising, but as of this date I believe we'll see the A5 at $799/pr, possibly including an incentive for early adopters. Caveats apply, so kindly don't hold us to this on either the high or low side."

                        Any deals would come HERE first. So chime-in over the next week or two if you're interested.

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                        • #13
                          Update

                          Talked with Jon and the design has been finalized. A minor design tweak to the upper part of the crossover (adding about a 1/2dB to the tweeter) and a minor alteration of the port tuning frequency (moved up by 1hz or 2hz via a physical port length adjustment).

                          Full review coming very soon. The midrange on these speakers is so refined. Enormous amounts of detail, really wide soundstage (and outstanding horizontal dispersion), but they sound so buttery-smooth!

                          I have also thoroughly abused the A5's at above-reference volume levels for the entire Back in Black album from ACDC as well as plenty of R&B/hip hop via pandora while working around the house. The XBL2 motors move a LOT of air.

                          Also, these are the first speakers that make pandora via my bluray player (LG BD590), which is currently limited to a 128kbps stream. No longer do I have to bother my wife to use her laptop so I can use the 192k stream. And, yes, I have been pestering pandora via email on a monthly basis stating that the ONLY reason for me to upgrade to pandora One is to have the 192 stream available on my streaming devices (TV & BD player). I think that they are finally realizing that I'm not alone in this. But that's another issue, entirely.

                          Group buy coming in the next few months! Will advise on that.

                          Group buy news will be here on TAI FIRST. :)

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                          • #14
                            I'll be succinct.

                            Drool.

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                            • #15
                              i am in line and waiting patiently

                              amazing all i can say

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