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  • Arx A5 Evaluation

    The Arx A5
    The Towers that almost didn't exist

    By Collin Bruce, s/n BufordTJustice




    The Idea

    I've been living with the Arx A5 tower prototypes (abbreviated to A5x) for about a year now. This really shouldn't be the case, since the A5's shouldn't exist in the first place. The only reason they exist is because I pestered Jon Lane on a consistent basis, for an extended period of time (several months). Here's how the journey started....

    Once upon a time, I saw a guy named Jon Lane posting online, who also apparently owned The Audio Insider. After reading many of his posts, I determined that he spoke with a wisdom and knowledge of loudspeaker tuning that I have seen in few other places.

    I saw that Jon had a loudspeaker series called Arx. It looked too good to be true. $500 for a pair of 2.5-way towers using magnetic planar tweeters and XBL2/Splitgap midwoofers? Were the cabinets and crossovers made from plastic and paper? Nobody else was putting drivers of that quality in speakers under a grand. So I played 20 questions and Jon answered every one. I asked him if he had plans for a bigger tower than the A3. He said very plainly, "Nope". Undeterred, I asked him if he would consider, even if only on paper, a bigger tower. I expressed my desire to have towers which possessed a duality of talents; they had to be strong on music, but they also would need to mesh with other cabinets for home theater. He kindly laughed and said something to the effect of, "lemme see what I can dream up in my [extremely limited] free time".

    Weeks passed until I found an email in my inbox titled "A5 towers". Jon had modeled a tower with the A3's cabinet size envelope, the same XBL2/Splitgap midwoofers (except there were now three midwoofers per cabinet as compared tot he A3's two) and planar tweeters used in the rest of the Arx series, and a dedicated midrange that he had access to which he determined might work with the rest of the system. Jon mentioned that the midrange driver had a very-low-distortion motor assembly, a true [fixed] phase plug (read: not a bullet-shaped dustcap), and outstanding musicality. He told me it could be done in the same size cabinet as the A3 towers by eliminating the mass-loading chamber in the base of the cabinet in favor of increased internal volume. However, they didn't physically exist yet and Jon had no plans to fabricate them, even on a prototype basis.

    After about a month of talking about boring design details, and desperately trying to convince Jon that a set of music-focused towers like that COULD sell well if they existed, Jon agreed to entertain my requests with some full modeling of the potential crossover network and he told me he would get back to me. Within a week, Jon informed me that the crossover was going to require more work than he had previously anticipated and that it may not work at all. A couple weeks after that, Jon emailed me the following: a) the A5's were possibly "doable" within a reasonable price constraint and using available drivers. I told him that if it didn't cost between $700 and $850 per PAIR that I had no interest and that several current market offerings would quickly make it an irrelevant also-ran. I did not want to give Jon the false impression that I would be paying any more than that. I felt that, surely, this would be the last nail in the coffin and that our pleasant phone chats and email exchanges had essentially come to an end. Jon ran some numbers and emailed me back the next day with a very simple message, "I think I can do $700-$800 per pair. But it will be a squeeze. Let me build some prototypes so I can know for sure the design works in the real world."

    Then Jon blew me out of the water with this offer, "How about I build a mirror pair of prototypes? Would you be willing to help me tune the crossovers, acting as a second set of ears?" He advised that there were still no guarantees about production and that he would need a minimum number of people to buy a production pair for it to be feasible (a number which he had not calculated yet). He then offered to have me babysit a bruised-up demo pair of Arx A3 towers so I could be ready to supply feedback to him about the continuity of the entire Arx line's voicing and if the A5's played into that. Further, he wanted the A5's to represent a marked and distinct improvement over the A3's. He stated that he would ship to me a prototype pair of A5x's once he had them ready....and once he could master the midrange-tweeter crossover to his satisfaction. He wanted input on the A5 design as it progressed. He told me that he had a mirror pair that he would craft and he would be able to send me small parts, different port tubes, etc, that I could switch-out myself and provide feedback to him. Mind you, we still have not met in person (to this day, actually). I could be a serial killer and he wouldn't know it. Or a thief. Or a liar. Or all three.


    The A5's

    Jon and I discussed extensively what the sonic character of the A5 needed to be. He and I both agreed that they would be designed and tuned with a focus toward stereo music listening, and as a secondary role filling the main L+R slots in a home theater setup. This meant careful attention paid to the horizontal soundstage, the depth of said soundstage, and the clarity of the midrange and treble sections while avoiding harshness, proper damping and impulse response, among many other issues.


    Well, the A5's met my expectations. The soundstage is wide and often three dimensional (depending on the quality of the source/content, of course). The midrange clarity belies its under-$1K price. After placing them about 8.5-9ft apart and about 10 feet away from me, the image reached all the way to the outer walls of my listening room (about 3.5ft to the outside of each speaker). The midrange resolution was like turning the detail knob up to eleven. However, no harshness or fatigue resulted. The dynamic delivery of the bass, without bloat, is satisfying. The A5's reach down to the low forty's in my room with negligible roll off. Usable bass output extends to just above 30Hz in my room. Your mileage may vary

    The Arx A5x's have a fundamental core of musicality; they sound detailed and revealing, but listener fatigue is kept lower than I expected. Which is to say, it is very low, indeed. I'm not interested in using esoteric terms to describe my listening experience, but I'll do my best to describe what I have heard from the A5x's. Being a huge fan of Diana Krall, I popped in her CD, "Live in Paris" and sat back. I usually demo by playing a minute or so from my favorite tracks (which is nearly all of them on this album). In this case, I lost track of time and played the entire album. The first track opens with a crescendo of audience applause. This applause was crisp and clear, and seemed to emanate from well outside of the physical confines of the boxes themselves. I was being surrounded by sound, yet with only two speakers. I was so pleased at this, I wanted to make sure it wasn't a placebo effect, so I restarted the track several times throughout my listening session. Of course, I expected that this wide soundstage would come (as it usually does) at the expense of focus (and possibly coherence) at the center of the soundstage, which it did not. I could hear the instruments from their original positions as recorded, panned across the front of the soundstage, with Diana's voice floating in the middle. The raspy character of her voice can, at times, come across as strident. This was not the case during my listening session; the A5x's allowed me to hear the texture of her voice, the subtle vibrato she uses on some words, and her delicate whispers, but it never hurt, even when being played at reference for short intervals. Brushes of the snare drum head were equally revealing.

    The bass seemed much more effortless than I had anticipated. The kick drum and floor tom provided a solid foundation for the rhythm section, their dynamic nature belied the small size of the Arx midwoofers and the modest cabinet volume. The upright acoustic bass also sounded full, yet it did not sound bloated. I could hear the bassist's fingers slide along the strings and could differentiate the 'pluck' of the string from the resonance that is created in the wooden body. This clarity also carried into more complex passages. I later contacted Jon about this and he had done exactly what I had asked; he had not included any type of 'showroom' output hump in the bass region. He maintained proper damping and impulse response through the bass region instead of chasing maximum raw bass output. It is, after all, hard for a pair of decently designed speakers to sound 'bad' with Diana Krall and her band. So I raided my wife's CD collection for some known-horrible, ultra-compressed modern drivel. My friends, say hello to Nickelback. Mediocre recordings, stupefying lyrics, lackluster dithering in production, compressed harshness, and a teeny bit of digital distortion on some of the lead vocal screams. Mix this with some more compression during mastering, and extra reverb for that oh-so-popular 'cathedral effect' ....and you have Nickelback.

    I don't like this music. Which makes it easy for me to be critical, both of the material itself and any system it is playing on. I am depressingly familiar with them because both my wife and my younger brother love them. This, in my mind, makes it really good evaluation material. Why listen to music that I already like? That's an easy test. This is a more difficult test for a speaker because I am (unfortunately) familiar with it and I can't stand it.

    The A5x's did an admirable job on Nickelback's 'Here and Now' and 'Dark Horse'. The perennial harshness that I came to associate with these discs was pleasantly almost absent. It's easily as smooth as my Grado headphones (read: tolerable). There is still plenty of sibilance and harshness on cymbal crashes and some snare hits. The annoying grunge in the guitar is still there, but somewhat more palatable than before. I no longer found myself compulsively reaching for the remote to turn the volume down. Yet, I was hearing more detail and more of the ambiance surrounding the instruments, and sometimes even the room/booth they were recorded in. This was a mighty fine balance of clarity without harshness. The best quality was that, again, the music seemed to emanate from far outside the edges of the A5x cabinets. This with no sound processing (other than the standard DAC conversion going on inside the Panasonic DMP-BDT500 courtesy of the Burr-Brown 192kHz x 32bit DAC's) and being sent to the DVD-A input on my Arcam AVR300 in PureDirect mode (where all internal DSP is fully disabled along with all non-essential video and audio circuits). So this is definitely not something that is being added to the signal. No phase manipulated 'fake surround' circuits employed here.

    I told Jon from the outset that stereo listening was my primary goal, and that if the A5's could to that well, HT duties should be adequately fulfilled as well. That goal has been met.

    The A5's are the kind of quality speakers that, when connected to quality equipment and fed a quality source, you just want to turn off the lights and let an album play all the way through. All I'm missing is the gentle glow of a tube amp.

    The A5x's even breathe life into Pandora Internet Radio. Never have I been so impressed with the quality of sound that I got from streamed content. This is a credit both to Pandora and to the A5x's. Large soundstage, lack of sibilance, and excellent vocal qualities across all genres of music. I can honestly say that I only became a true fan of Pandora once I got the A5x's in my system. For less-than-critical listening, I can very nearly forget it's not a CD or lossless audio; perfect for chore duty or when I'm working on another bench project.


    Specific Tracks

    Kid Cudi: Day 'N Nite -
    A strong bass line anchors the song, and an ethereal synthesizer floats over the vocals and sound effects. The bass is dynamic, and the ambient nature of the synthesizer creates a large envelope of sound. This should, and did, provide a wrap-around sound experience due to a lot of phase manipulation happening in the studio. The vocals, as with most modern music, are highly compressed. This usually creates a strident and tinny nature, even to people who have deeper voices. The A5x's excelled in revealing the texture of the vocals, without allowing them to be too shrill. (great break-in song)


    Timbaland: The Way I Are -
    Another song that has highly compressed vocals, an ethereal and reverberant backing track, coupled with a very loud bass line that digs quite low for mainstream musical content. Another great test of the A5x's ability to maintain composure at higher volume levels without falling apart. (and a great break-in song)


    Justin Timberlake: What Goes Around -
    I have grown to like Timberlake. This song is my favorite of his so far. It is easy to tell that he paid more attention to the vocal harmonies and the quality of microphone being used in the studio. The compression he uses on the vocal track on this song is lighter than usual for the hip-hop genre.



    Lupe Fiasco: The Show Goes On -
    The electric guitar sampling that plays throughout the song, along with the (fake) trumpets and the strong bass beat is another showcase for the A5's bringing composure and smoothness to a song that really doesn't have too much of either of those. The reverb effect applied to the guitar is conveyed with great effect, seeming to wrap around you in the beginning of the track.



    Diana Krall [Live in Paris]: I Love Being Here With You & Fly Me To The Moon
    Oh, Diana. Some love her, others hate her (no idea why). I find her music well recorded and well produced. Her use of live musicians on this album, along with the live audience's applause being tastefully mixed into the beginning and end of each track really helps you visualize the experience. The A5's paint a clear sonic picture of what was recorded. Again, a very wide and deep soundstage is the norm.



    The Rolling Stones [Forty Licks]: Gimme Shelter
    My all-time favorite Stone's song. The A5x's really allowed me to listen in on this recording; hearing the female singer's voice actually break (crack) as she belts-out her part in the latter part of the song. If you listen real close, you can hear Jagger react to it in the recording. The A5x's present tons of clarity, but also keep listener fatigue impressively low. Fatigue on midrange-heavy recordings from this era (especially ones that have been 'digitally remastered') can detract from one's listening enjoyment.


    John Mayer: Heartbreak Warfare
    John seems to be experimenting with more ambiance in his recordings. This first track sounds less intimate, but shows off the wide soundstage that the A5x's reveal.


    Tom Petty: You Don't Know How it Feels
    If a speaker is harsh in the midrange, the Harmonica (especially in the beginning) will be grating. Now, Harmonicas are naturally shrill instruments, but they don't have to be punishment. On this track, clear-yet-smooth is what you want, and the A5x's deliver. You can hear the texture of the diaphragms as they vibrate inside the harmonica and Tom's gritty road-beaten voice.



    Movies

    I sampled Star Wars Episode III on BD and Episode 4, also on BD. These movies are a favorite of mine, the latter since my childhood. I ended up purchasing an Arx A2 center from Jon during the above evaluation to complete my front three for movie viewing. To the A5x's credit, they still meshed seamlessly with the A2 to create a cohesive front soundstage. Pans across the front sounded pleasingly natural and I was unable to differentiate where one speaker ended and the other began after getting them level-matched.

    Using my Panasonic DMP-BDT500, I have discovered the world of FLAC and lossless audio (also, Dolby True HD, DTS HD MA, LPCM, etc.).....and there's no going back to the lossy stuff. Whether playing 44.1k CD rips or 96/24 files from HD Tracks-dot-com via my USB thumb drive, it is vibrant, clear, and enveloping. Despite extensive comparisons between the actual CDs and the FLAC files, I was not able to determine the difference between the two on my system. Do yourself a favor and taste the FLAC kool-aid.


    Break-in



    It took about 25 hours for a break-in. The A5x's produced noticeably more effortless bass after the first 25 listening hours. I don't think that the way the break-in is conducted has any effect on how the speaker sounds after break-in as long as they aren't being abused. But speakers are mechanical devices and I would imagine that the spiders and surrounds of the midwoofers gained some additional compliance after several hours of listening as opposed to when they were brand new. No Voodoo here.


    For my friends who have seen the A5x's in action, they were always amazed at how little the midwoofers moved during loud bass passages relative to their amount of output. If anybody has seen my A3 excursion video on Vimeo, forget about that with the A5's. I was afraid of frying the crossover in an effort to get the midwoofers to move like I had seen in the A3 towers. I never once saw the midwoofers fully unload, even when feeding them signals that were well below the port tuning frequency (signals in the high 20Hz range). It was comforting. So, to this day, I have NEVER bottomed the midwoofers in the A5x, even when playing Star Wars Episode III above reference for some friends. The only listener fatigue I heard I can associate with my Arcam AVR300 almost running out of gas.


    My wife was also impressed and surprised by their dynamic qualities. They scared her on several occasions. Which made them even MORE valuable to me. Horror movies like Insidious made the wifey jump over and over again. She actually stopped the movie to check the front door at one point. She was convinced that a knocking was coming from within our house, but from another room. Wrong-O! Boy, was it fun watching her investigate. Since she will likely read this, I'm not going to elaborate any more on that.

    The A5's are 6 ohm speakers. I don't say this meaning that they are AVERAGED to 6 ohms with an impedance plot that looks like the rocky mountains. I mean that when you look at the impedance plot, there are no nasty surprises that so many other designs include. No mystery overheating problems like other "6 ohm nominal" speakers that have 3 ohm dips in critical bands of the frequency spectrum can create. They are conservatively rated at about 90.5dB at 1w/1m.


    Jon and I agreed on two modifications; one to the crossover and one to the port setup. Using a slightly different crossover component, Jon increased the tweeter level by about .5dB (maybe less than that) and he made a port adjustment by changing the length (moving the tuning freq up by about 1 or 2 Hz). Small stuff that I advised was probably not required. However, Jon wouldn't relent...stating that he wanted to get the bass impulse response "just right".


    Continued in the next post

  • #2

    The Chronology


    So, this whole project started by me bothering Jon for a month to scratch some design down for a bigger tower than the A3 towers. I doubt Jon would have designed the A5 towers if I had not asked for them. This all happened because towers like these were what I was shopping for in my own home setup. It was an entirely selfish motivation, but at least I told Jon up front. He was aware that I was not concerned with profit margins or anything else related to his business operations. I just wanted to know if he was willing to craft a speaker that I wanted to see....and one that I thought may have limited sales potential. Without sounding callous, I didn't really care about the sales potential. Yet, Jon did all the design work prior to making the prototypes per my sole request. I would say that, for the entire gestational period, Jon was toying with the idea of only having a single pair of A5 towers made and selling them only to me (which would have made me perfectly happy). He even took care to explain to me that this would not be a production item and to keep my mouth shut tight. Before actually getting the A5x's into my hands, Jon told me that it really didn't make financial sense for him to make ONLY one pair for the A5 project at my price point and that I should just call it off. He stated he was having trouble making the midrange-tweeter crossover work to his satisfaction, and that he would not be able to do it at my stated price point. My idea of an A5 tower was dead. Damn. Back to shopping all the competitors.

    Fast forward a few fast-paced weeks of work. I called Jon to shoot the breeze (he and I also share an interest in politics and history). Jon mentioned to me that maybe the A5 wasn't dead after all. He told me that he had overcome an issue in the mid-tweeter crossover in a way that was simpler, though less conventional than he had previously thought. And cheaper...maybe even plausible for a limited production run. He then sent me the above listed prototype pair, and the above evaluation was conducted.

    After Jon and I had settled on what the design should be, he encountered a problem; the price of neodymium had begun to climb rapidly. He was clear to tell me that now the only way it made financial sense for him (as a small business) to release the A5's was for him to be able to sell about 12 additional pairs to other buyers.

    So, I asked Jon if he would allow me to facilitate his efforts to find 12 other interested buyers for what he termed "a very limited engagement". I asked him if I could bring the project out in the open via various internet forums (since it had been completely secret until this point) in an effort to see if any interest actually existed for the 'A5 tower' we had conceived. He gave me permission to essentially reveal the work that had been done up until that point in a thread on the TAI forum, with me crossing my fingers that at least 12 people would be interested enough to participate in a potential group buy of 12 pairs, at some indefinite point in the future....and with some unknown price point between $650 and $800 a pair.

    After posting the thread at TAI forum, my only (self serving) goal was to see if enough people were as interested in the A5 tower as I was....interested enough to buy it, like me. My aim was twelve people who were adventurous enough to commit on a preliminary basis. Jon cautioned me against getting my hopes up, warning that in a down economy like this it was a tall order to have people voluntarily commit themselves to a product that hasn't been manufactured yet. He told me later that he had expected near-zero interest. Essentially an utter failure.

    Well, he was wrong. Four people turned into eight, which turned into twelve, which turned into a LOT more than twelve (nearly 70 as of this writing). The numbers grew very quickly. This was when I had the bright idea of starting a thread at a forum that I had always enjoyed reading, with the intention of sharing the good news. I mean, where else in the market could you get a speaker that sounded THIS GOOD for this price? Answer: you couldn't....at least not at the moment. Despite my best (and clearest) of intentions, that thread turned into something awful after about 12 pages of productive posts, pictures, and many expressions of interest. It is a shame what happened between me and a moderator with poor grammar skills and an ax to grind...... but that is another story for another time.



    Final Thoughts


    Now it's July 2012. Basically a year and a half since Jon first had me nagging in his ear about creating the A3's "big brother". The delivery of the A5 production model is right around the corner and the original group buy of 12 has been expanded to nearly 70. I am really excited to hear what the people in the A5 group buy at TAI Forums have to say about The A5's once they hear them. So here's where I'll give a few tips for anybody who has bought an Arx A5. Tip 1: don't be kind during break-in; play plenty of bass heavy music at moderate volume. Get those XBL2/Splitgap midwoofers moving (as much as possible, anyway). Tip 2: get the A5's out into the room and away from the back/side walls. I wouldn't recommend placing them any closer to the rear wall than 12"-14"....further away if at all possible. Jon has employed boundary-step compensation in the crossover design, so the A5's don't need to hug a wall in order to have ample bass output. Just place them for great stereo imaging and enjoy.

    I am anxious to hear the reports from other listeners. I think they're going to be very impressed at the value and performance the A5's bring to the marketplace.

    Comment


    • #3
      Buford, any chance of getting a pic of the A5 Xover?
      Thanks Jeff

      Comment


      • #4
        That pair have hand-built xovers, jnordi. They're electrically identical but ugly. ;)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jnordi
          Buford, any chance of getting a pic of the A5 Xover?
          Thanks Jeff
          Yeah, I'm sure once somebody has a production pair they'll be able to get pix posted, but the pair I have are U-G-L-Y on the inside. Structurally they are properly assembled, as well as the component arrangements being proper. But they have been altered, fiddled-with, and modified several times over. They look rough, to put it nicely. ;)

          Comment


          • #6
            Wonderfully written, Buford! I can't wait to receive my pair to finish off the cave...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by WeDgE
              Wonderfully written, Buford! I can't wait to receive my pair to finish off the cave...
              Thank you. I'm no writer...but I did put some time in for the eval. You are gonna be quite pleased with the A5's. There just isn't another speaker at this price that can compete with it right now.

              Comment


              • #8
                thoughts compared to swan diva 6.1? figure med room good power; movies and stereo, movies maybe a bit more important. thanks for any thoughts.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by William Aaron Markoff
                  thoughts compared to swan diva 6.1? figure med room good power; movies and stereo, movies maybe a bit more important. thanks for any thoughts.
                  Hey William. I haven't heard the Diva 6.1's in person aside from a quick listen at a party several years ago. I didn't know the guy who owned the house (and he didn't seem to be really interested in audio, talking about audio, or doing much else that didn't include impressing his rich friends) and he was less-than-interested in switching off his party mix for me to do some listening. He was a friend of a friend of an acquaintance.

                  I ended up flirting with his ultra-hot wife for the duration of the party out of sheer spite (this was before I met my wife, of course). He was an ass and I was truly frustrated at the missed opportunity to hear them. He had the 6.1's (with the yellow kevlar midrange) not the newer 6.2's that are larger in size.

                  They sounded really great and looked mighty impressive in person, but I couldn't offer any honest opinions on them, other than they produce an incredible amount of bass for their size.

                  Jon Lane would be the one to ask on this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My A5s arrived today. Here are my initial listening impressions:

                    The first time I hooked them up, they sounded like brand new A1s. The planar tweeter was sounding good but the bass was not yet "full" and they need some break-in time. So left them on and went out for a couple of hours to do some chores.

                    After coming back, I was surprised that they are already sounding a lot better. I mean, it took about a week or more for me to break in my A1s and A2. Right off the bat I noticed the increased clarity. These were not just A1s that played louder. The highs seemed a bit more pronounced and the midrange was amazing. It seemed that there was more spacing between instruments and the vocals. Not sure if this is the treble adjustment and improved midrange resolution that Jon and Buford talked about in their prior posts (nonetheless, thank you).

                    I was surprised to hear sounds coming from the A5s that I did not hear before on the current track that was playing (LMFAO). I was like, "was that there before?", and I had to rewind the track... I was waiting until the full break in to play my wife's favorite tunes but I had to check. I played the live performances from Daryl Hall's website and was amazed at the increased clarity. My wife stopped by to listen. I switched from stereo to 5.0 and could not tell the difference between the whole Arx system (with the A2 and A1s fully broken in) and just the A5s. I asked my wife to close her eyes and see if she can hear any difference (she sings in a band). I was pleasantly surprised when she said I prefer the prior one (just the A5s)--they're clearer and louder. I used to do this with the A1s and she always preferred the A2 with the A1s playing vs. just the A1s. She then said that she liked the A5s the best and gave a compliment "it's better than your prior [HTIB ribbon] speakers" (she always compares those to the A1s and prefers them). She then asked about the price and I told her about the value of the first group buy, which made her happy.

                    We then had to stop and just listen to our favorite songs (and enjoy the music). Amazing! I'll probably sound like Buford in his initial impressions of the A5 prototypes but the sound really seems to envelop you. I did not notice how loud the A5s were playing (I was using my normal 50% volume), when my wife told me she could not hear me because it seems that she's surrounded by sound in 3D. The A5s do sound a lot bigger than their physical size. The attributes Buford mentioned in his initial impression of the prototypes that convinced me to avail of the group buy are true!

                    Thank you Buford for "pestering" Jon to create the A5s and of course, thank you Jon for such a wonderful product. I really enjoyed my A1s and A2 and thought that they could not be outdone by the A5s.

                    Clarity, transparency, efficiency and value (I agree to what Bill said). Great job folks! Call me impressed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by D'Argo
                      My A5s arrived today. Here are my initial listening impressions:
                      We then had to stop and just listen to our favorite songs (and enjoy the music). Amazing! I'll probably sound like Buford in his initial impressions of the A5 prototypes but the sound really seems to envelop you. I did not notice how loud the A5s were playing (I was using my normal 50% volume), when my wife told me she could not hear me because it seems that she's surrounded by sound in 3D. The A5s do sound a lot bigger than their physical size. The attributes Buford mentioned in his initial impression of the prototypes that convinced me to avail of the group buy are true!

                      Thank you Buford for "pestering" Jon to create the A5s and of course, thank you Jon for such a wonderful product. I really enjoyed my A1s and A2 and thought that they could not be outdone by the A5s.

                      Clarity, transparency, efficiency and value (I agree to what Bill said). Great job folks! Call me impressed.
                      You're very welcome...though I have reaped the same benefits so my efforts were also self-serving. ;)

                      The 3-dimensionality, deceptive smoothness, and "resolution" (the revelation of additional sonic material, as Jon and I call it) are all purely intentional byproducts of the strict standards we set during the concept and design phase. They aren't lucky happenstances, serendipity, or good fortune. They are there because they have been tuned by ear to be like that.....and I am so glad you enjoy them!

                      Thank you for chiming-in, D'Argo. :D

                      Keep it coming folks! I wanna hear more!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BufordTJustice
                        You're very welcome...though I have reaped the same benefits so my efforts were also self-serving. ;)

                        The 3-dimensionality, deceptive smoothness, and "resolution" (the revelation of additional sonic material, as Jon and I call it) are all purely intentional byproducts of the strict standards we set during the concept and design phase. They aren't lucky happenstances, serendipity, or good fortune. They are there because they have been tuned by ear to be like that.....and I am so glad you enjoy them!

                        Thank you for chiming-in, D'Argo. :D

                        Keep it coming folks! I wanna hear more!
                        You're welcome, Buford. The cross over design was "more than a trick" as you said in an earlier post. And this wonderful sound is just coming from (you may cringe at this), website streaming from an iPad to a (gasp) stereo jack to an RCA to a $140 re-branded Sherwood RD-8601 650W receiver (pumps out ~50-55 W RMS per channel only?) to 16-gauge wires (the ones that came with the HTIB) to the A5s = great sound.

                        I know you'd advised of discovering FLAC files and good sources and components. My A5s are the best components of my system right now and I want to enjoy each incremental upgrade of my system. From good sources to beefier receivers/amps to good components such as 12-gauge to 10-gauge quality speaker wires with the proper plugs/terminals. At least I started in the right direction by upgrading to the Arx speakers.

                        There you have it folks. Even with my modest components, the A5s are sounding real good. I can't imagine what they'll sound like once I start upgrading.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by D'Argo
                          You're welcome, Buford. The cross over design was "more than a trick" as you said in an earlier post. And this wonderful sound is just coming from (you may cringe at this), website streaming from an iPad to a (gasp) stereo jack to an RCA to a $140 re-branded Sherwood RD-8601 650W receiver (pumps out ~50-55 W RMS per channel only?) to 16-gauge wires (the ones that came with the HTIB) to the A5s = great sound.

                          I know you'd advised of discovering FLAC files and good sources and components. My A5s are the best components of my system right now and I want to enjoy each incremental upgrade of my system. From good sources to beefier receivers/amps to good components such as 12-gauge to 10-gauge quality speaker wires with the proper plugs/terminals. At least I started in the right direction by upgrading to the Arx speakers.

                          There you have it folks. Even with my modest components, the A5s are sounding real good. I can't imagine what they'll sound like once I start upgrading.
                          I'm not cringing at all. I am actually spending a surprising amount of time listening to Pandora via my Panasonic DMP-BDT500....both analog into my Arcam and digital coaxial. The smoothness of the A5's, paired with the resolution I harp about, truly makes Pandora enjoyable.

                          You automatically get a higher quality stream with the free Pandora service IF you are using a media player and NOT a computer or mobile phone. So, any receiver or DVD or BD player will gain you free access to what some are stating is 256k stereo stream.

                          One of my buddies, who works at a large themepark in Orlando (It's a 'studio' ;) ) told me he called Pandora regarding some park business and such and that they told him all media players (to include home AVR's) receive a 256k stereo stream. He's not one to embellish (he's an audio snob who prefers to edit raw audio files). He is also an old friend; I take him at his word.

                          So, give Pandora a try if you guys haven't already. The fidelity will shock you through the A5's.


                          Also, D'Argo I think you would see GREAT benefit with very little capital outlay from the following items: a beefy Monoprice premium 1/8"-> stereo RCA adapter and some Monoprice unterminated 12ga speaker cable (a 50 ft spool would be plenty for you). You could be out the door for well under $30 including shipping and I guarantee a massive and immediate improvement even with your current receiver and the lossy connection with your iPad.

                          I'm not pushing you to spend more money...but if I had to prioritize upgrades for you on a bang-for-buck basis, that's what I would advise. The good news is that the A5's will gladly reveal improvements upstream....even incremental ones.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BufordTJustice
                            Also, D'Argo I think you would see GREAT benefit with very little capital outlay from the following items: a beefy Monoprice premium 1/8"-> stereo RCA adapter and some Monoprice unterminated 12ga speaker cable (a 50 ft spool would be plenty for you). You could be out the door for well under $30 including shipping and I guarantee a massive and immediate improvement even with your current receiver and the lossy connection with your iPad.

                            I'm not pushing you to spend more money...but if I had to prioritize upgrades for you on a bang-for-buck basis, that's what I would advise. The good news is that the A5's will gladly reveal improvements upstream....even incremental ones.
                            Thank you, Buford. Yes, sir, the recommended Monoprice wires/RCA cord are next on the list.

                            Sorry for the off-topic question, the iPad/stereo-RCA jack combo sounded better than my PS3/TOSLink digital cable (both to the 6.1 receiver). Could it just be a setting on the PS3 or a browser setting? (I was accessing the same site through the PS3's browser and the iPad's browser). Any thoughts? I guess that's why my wife sort of preferred the old HTIB ribbon speakers because I was playing them in another room using the iPad (and an older Sony stereo receiver). When I used the iPad on the A1s on my 6.1 receiver, it was definitely much better (than the PS3 and ofcourse the old HTIB ribbon speakers). The A5 trumps both by a margin. Sorry again for the off topic and we can PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by D'Argo
                              Thank you, Buford. Yes, sir, the recommended Monoprice wires/RCA cord are next on the list.

                              Sorry for the off-topic question, the iPad/stereo-RCA jack combo sounded better than my PS3/TOSLink digital cable (both to the 6.1 receiver). Could it just be a setting on the PS3 or a browser setting? (I was accessing the same site through the PS3's browser and the iPad's browser). Any thoughts? I guess that's why my wife sort of preferred the old HTIB ribbon speakers because I was playing them in another room using the iPad (and an older Sony stereo receiver). When I used the iPad on the A1s on my 6.1 receiver, it was definitely much better (than the PS3 and ofcourse the old HTIB ribbon speakers). The A5 trumps both by a margin. Sorry again for the off topic and we can PM.
                              Well, if you are using Pandora, both are using a browser, so the hi-fi stream wont' be available to you even with Pandora One. There's a LOT that goes into a digital signal and it's not as cut-and-dry as it should be.

                              I'll illustrate with this example. I have a 55" Vizio LED (fully backlit) 3D TV with Vizio internet apps. It says quite clearly in my manual (twice, in fact) that the settings in the audio setup sub-menu DO NOT have an effect on the signal coming out of the SPDI/F Optical out that comes into my Arcam AVR.

                              However, I and my wife (who is much like yours), have been able to detect a noticeable and consistent difference in how the signal sounds when two "TV speaker settings", which are not supposed to have ANY effect on the output signal, are changed; when the SRS surround circuit is disengaged and when the SRS sound compression (truevolume?) is disengaged.

                              If these are both turned off, the midrange and treble portions of ANY signal coming through the TV (ATSC broadcast, routed from HDMI from my Panny DMP500, etc.) are greatly improved, clarity is increased, and the horizontal soundstage is stretched MUCH wider. This despite Vizio's manual and their tech reps assuring me that I am "not hearing a difference" because these settings have no effect on the Optical out. ;)

                              If only digital audio were as simple as some people make it out to be. DSP's are amazingly complicated circuits and many times there is unintended interaction between one part of a circuit and another. I wasn't able to really hear this difference when the A3's where in place (it is so very subtle), but the difference is glaring with the A5's. I've even tried the ultimate test of re-enabling those circuits and waiting for the wife to come and start watching TV. She'll watch for several minutes and, more often than not, reach for the TV remote and make the above-listed adjustments. The proof's in the pudding.

                              So, I said all that to tell you that I have no idea why you are experiencing what you are hearing....but I have zero doubt that you ARE experiencing it. :D

                              How's that for help? Haha.

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