Beautifully honest is honestly beautiful. Having by now a good notion on the shift potential these speakers allowed their ancillaries, I picked Crayon's CFA-1.2 integrated preceded by the hybrid tube/Mosfet Fore Audio DAISy1 DAC in single-ended connection. This combo reinjected the juiciness and bass power of the first round, combined it with the extreme sorting precision and grip of the second, then added even more colour pop and gloss to the timbres. With an intense front-row perspective, truly massive but taut even bass and tremendous airiness on high to peel out the fire and grit inside incendiary Flamenco vocals, this final hardware assemblage with its minimized signal path really laid it on thick that there was nowhere else to go. With wall-to-wall staging, good depth, incredible solidity and plain-as-day visibility into convoluted tracks without any confusion, I felt quite certain that nobody considering my in-room photos of these narrow d'Appolito floorstanders would actually believe such descriptions.

What to do? Revisit very basic math on how to calculate the surface of a circle with that ancient solution πR². Now I saw that 4 x 6.5" nets the cone surface of exactly one 13" woofer. No wonder these modest-looking Argonauts could move some low-frequency air and sound rather dynamic doing it. No wonder that Amphion positioned this model at the apex of their home line right beneath their flagship 3-way. With dual 8" midranges and one sidefiring 10" woofer with dual rear ports, their Krypton3 fetches €15'000/pr; three times today's ask. At right we see the size progression of Argon 3LS, Helium 520, Argon7LS and range topper. More expensive also means bigger and more imposing.

At €4'500/pr for the Argon7LS, you'd have enough money left over to buy Crayon's CIA-1T integrated (less costly than our version but even better) and a top DAC; in short a system which in a normal-sized room would be end-game material for the vast majority.

On how ABR use reflects on the impedance/phase plot versus ports, Amphion product designer Martin Kantola was evasive. "With the current amplifier technology trend, the impedance curve in the lowest frequency region has not been a concern." From this we should safely assume that the Argon's twinned radiators look no different on the impedance plot than equivalent ports. That would explain why the best bass came from amps with 3-digit damping factors like the nCore monos and Crayon, not 2-digit affairs like the FirstWatt brigade. Kantola's next statement confirmed why despite undeniable bass prowess, the 7LS played it so open and unimpeded in the midband. "The actual benefit of the radiators we find to be mainly in the character and speed of the bass response and the eliminated midrange resonance from the port tube itself. The benefits of using the passive radiators therefore go past the bass frequencies as at least in our case they improve midrange clarity as well." Indeed.

Relative to makeup, Anssi explained how "traditionally a large number of audiophiles and manufacturers focus on specs from 20-20'000Hz. but we should remember that human hearing is nonlinear. To us some frequencies are therefore more 'visible' than others. Human hearing has its most precise region between 2-5kHz. Chair and sofa manufacturers hide their seams to the side instead of placing them in the middle of the cushion. I feel the same common sense should apply to audio. The so-called critical range of 2-5kHz plays a major part in how we can apply makeup to keep music attractive and natural. Fire alarms operate around 3'000-3'100Hz. As our ear is very sensitive at these frequencies, they are the ones that start to sound annoying also with music if tone is just a bit too bright or the level of those frequencies too high. Humans didn't develop hearing just for fun. It was given to us for survival to know the direction of danger. The reason why human hearing is most acute between 2-5kHz is the fact that spatial information locates there."

"Most manufacturers probably agree that here it's always safer to be slightly on the warmer side of neutral because that creates a bit of a cushion so things don't irritate when a recording is slightly forward due to certain shortcomings in studio monitors or speakers used during mastering. Another aspect which one must understand about human hearing is that it cannot detect absolute levels but only understands frequencies in relation to others around it. This allows refined possibilities for applying makeup around the problem area. If we want to fade out the critical annoying frequencies without lowering absolute level which would lead to a loss of spatial information, we can gently raise the treble beyond the critical area. Remember also that our ears will always (try to) adapt to a speaker and its response. If the loudspeaker is well within acceptable limits, we will in a relatively short time perceive its frequency balance as neutral. This is true for gentler 'softer' midrange curves but does not work with annoying sharp resonances or peaks." Here we have an extra explanation for the optional +1dB treble contour; and why despite their pro roots, the home-trained Argon7LS never sounded annoying even on bright recordings.

Summary. The Amphion Argon7LS is perhaps best condensed as "classic two-way purity meets 13" woofer-style cone surface for mature bass power, reach and dynamics". Whilst our €9'000 Albedo Audio 5.5" Accuton two-way tower with clever transmission lines will reach nearly as low with the very same Crayon Audio integrated, it doesn't move anywhere near the same air. It expresses small-woofer bass: tight, quick and snappy but without the impact or scale of bigger artillery. With appropriate drive, the Argon7LS behaved as though running at least a 10" woofer yet remained the same attractively narrow box of good sensitivity to not rely on big amps. Just so, when Amphion reference current amplifier technology as not making their impedance curve in the lowest frequency region any concern, they seem to point at those switching amps which flaunt very high damping factors. That kind of control should get the best of this Finnish speaker though as our Crayon and LinnenberG amps showed, it needn't mean class D. In closing, when mutually respectful movie adversaries face each other during a show-down, one will often say something to the effect of "do your worst" before combat begins. In that spirit, the worst that could be said of the Argon7LS is that its looks are far more conventional than its sound. It silently makes that reminder about not judging a book by its cover; or the loud audiophile version thereof - mistaking an apparently basic rectangular speaker for being a square. This Amphion is anything but. I honestly, beautifully loved it!

Postscript: Because Amphion's lifestyle shots show this model very close to the wall even in a corner and often clearly without cables to indicate pure promo efforts, the reader might wonder whether they really work under such conditions.

To mock up the closest such scenario I could, the 7LS hoofed it upstairs into a secondary system's far smaller room. There it hunkered down as near the front wall as the thick cables allowed.

Whilst soundstage depth vacated the building as it mostly also does with typical in-wall speakers like you find them in restaurants or doctor's offices, nothing else really took a hit.

If you have the space, some breathing room will of course enhance the subjective panorama and its layering to roll out the 3rd dimension and avoid a shadow-puppet show. But if you don't have the space; or if décor considerations forbid against using it that way...

... Amphion's Argon7LS will really work under such close-boundary conditions. That's another very practical point in its favour, confirming its status as a real-world speaker, not an exotically impractical contraption of dubious looks.

Amphion website