"One thing to always keep in mind is that one can never evaluate a speaker without the room it's in. If we turn this around, the manufacturer should have an idea of basic room acoustics and the ways people place their speakers in relation to their room and listening position. This is very different in pro where most listening occurs in the nearfield between 1 and 2.5 metres.


"Often the audiophile listening distance starts at 2.5 metres, being at times easily double that. In pro the rooms are generally acoustically treated. In the home they are not. In pro one school of thought looks for absolute even brutal honesty. Despite being honest and highly resolving, we want our pro speakers to still be 'musical'.


"In hifi we want to be honest to the original recording without making it straining or fatiguing even when the recording isn't technically what it should be. In pro you can make changes if something does not sound right. Being totally honest works well. As you cannot at home, we feel that we must make slight adjustments to the balance to either match your signal chain, room acoustics or simply your taste. One way this is done is via a rocker switch. That gives you control over the tweeter level. 1-1.5dB depending on model may not sound like much but seems to work just fine.

Studio nearfield at the mixing console.

"We never believed that one should have drastically different sound on different sides of the mastering. Amphion’s philosophy is always to present an open and large clean window on the music. We could even say that I'm not truly happy unless we're forgotten. I'm probably shooting myself in the foot if this is taken out of context but sometimes it feels that philosophically, making a professional monitor is easier than a hifi speaker. A pro monitor is good if it shows everything, warts and all. But privately, most men prefer their ladies with a bit of makeup. Despite the endless audiophile lip service about the truth and nothing but the truth, most actually feel that a little bit of skillfully applied makeup is a good thing. What then is a good hifi speaker? How much and what kind of makeup should the manufacturer apply? I think that's the eternal question. In my view, hifi generally uses too much. At Amphion we try to apply it very sparingly like the very best makeup which isn't really seen but still makes the lady look more radiant.

Home-typical mid- to farfield at a show.

"There are things which the slightly higher priced professional monitors allow us to do. Naturally the crossovers aren't the same since the voicing isn't but their effect on cost is not substantial. The Corian waveguide is actually surprisingly expensive to make and this along with the voicing and crossovers is the biggest technical difference between the home and pro products. My problem with high-end audio is that a lot of attention goes to specs and fancy materials, not on what the manufacturer meant to achieve. To me the task of any audio manufacturer starts with the mastering. This is the sound we are supposed to not recreate but reproduce. Unless a manufacturer has access to hear the recordings in the room where they were actually recorded, how is he supposed to know what the final voicing of the product should be? This is a great advantage for Amphion because our products are in daily use in professional studios and not for the sake of promo shots to create pro credibility in advertising. We know exactly how the master sounds in the room it was made in. Often we also get access to these masters even if they aren't commercially available. So we can go back to the original event when dialling in the final balance of our home products."

Another studio nearfield setup with Amphion monitors atop Amphion bass extender bases.


From the above, we understand that Amphion's home line wasn't tainted but informed and improved by Anssi's strategic long-term immersion in the recording/mastering sector. Then what did Anssi's mild makeup consist of? Knowing that a 'home-approved' tonal balance tends to be a teeter totter—bass on the up side, treble on the down, hinge somewhere between 100-400Hz like the raised/dipped wings of an airplane leaning into a turn—that's what I figured was in place for us homies versus the flat-lined professionalism of Amphion's studio monitors.


But because assumptions are merely a dark stain on the pretty grey cells they're written on, I asked Anssi directly. I also wanted to know how the move from ports to passive radiators had impacted the impedance plot where ports exhibit a saddle response with steep twin peaks. Those can deviate by surprisingly high amounts from the nominal 4Ω or 8Ω rating. Because those peaks occur in the bass around the port tuning frequency, the associated phase angles can be harder on amplifiers depending on their severity. Did ABRs in general peg that deviation needle just as hard? How about the Argon7LS?


Before Anssi could respond, I'd already learnt over the first weekend that at least in our room, the twinned rear-firing passive radiators behaved exactly like ports by triggering a room resonance mode our usual speakers don't see. Having the Argon front baffles set up exactly where those of our residents go, this narrow-band boom at the beginning of the octave below middle C reminded me of the Kroma Audio Julieta in our prior Lecanvey residence. Their twinned rear-fire ports had been very critical relative to room interactions. It had made listening outside the final sweet spot an exercise in breaching various room resonances or boom zones. The Finns now were far from that severe. They simply rode one very obvious mode. After playing musical chairs and moving speakers to lock in the most linear response (my actual starting place is shown in the next photo)...
If fortunes favour the old, the +1dB treble boost might be doctor's orders.

 

... I ended up with the chair in the middle of the carpet (the original chair position indicated by the second chair below) and the speakers pushed back to the corners of the carpet. Now I sat very strategically in a null of the particular trigger node and the speakers completed an equilateral triangle to approximate a mastering-console nearfield with the same 'giant headphone' type of immersion recording engineers enjoy. This reshuffle perfectly sorted the first narrow-band but annoying ringing and the Argon7LS proved good into the mid thirties with surprising power. After helping me write comparative notes on the FirstWatt F5, F7 and SIT-3 amps for the latter's review, the three low-power samples of the Class A art departed and our 1MHz DC-coupled fully balanced LinnenberG Liszt monos doing 400 watts into this load's 4Ω took to the driver's seat in very low-distortion and fast class A/B. To be sure, I could have remained with the original layout, knowing full well that it meant merely a room-related issue. But being able to fix it was more gratifying.