Amphion is a relatively young brand, founded in 1998 and brings some interestingly different techniques to the party.
The most obvious of these is the large waveguide that surrounds the tweeter and matches the diameter of the bass/mid drive unit. This has several implications. The prime purpose is to control the tweeter’s directivity, presumably to avoid the directivity discontinuity that usually occurs in the transition from bass/mid driver to tweeter. However, it may also be due, at least in part, to the potentially superior time alignment that results from locating the tweeter down within the waveguide and well behind the front panel, which should help place the two voice coils the same distance from the listeners.
The speaker is slimmer than most of its contemporaries and the enclosure is nicely built, with sharp edges all round. Our samples came finished in a rather anonymous walnut veneer, though two other veneers and three painted options are also available. An attractive bonus is that the waveguide is roughly the same size as the bass/mid drive unit, bringing a rather fetching symmetry to the appearance.
No complete grille covering both drivers is supplied here, but both drive units have metal diaphragms and these are protected from prying fingers by discreet fixed open- mesh metal grilles. The tweeter has the usual 25mm dome, while the bass/mid driver has a relatively small 90mm cone. A modest rear port provides reflex loading and may be blocked by the supplied foam bungs if the speakers are placed close to a wall. Signal is applied to a single terminal pair.
Although the vote wasn’t entirely unanimous, the majority of panellists in the Blind-Listening Group Test placed the Argon 1 at the top of their lists, unambiguously voting it the winner.
It’s not perfect, but then no speaker is, especially when it’s as small as those assembled here. But despite the inevitable lack of sheer bass weight imposed by the modest size of its enclosure and main driver, this speaker delivers an entertaining and well-timed bottom end, encouraging the feet to tap along with the music.
The restrained top end did leave one panellist complaining of a degree of ‘wooliness’ in vocal rendition and this is certainly a valid criticism. There is a slight lack of air and sparkle here, though this is arguably less serious than experiencing an excessive top end, especially when a speaker is likely to be used at the end of a fairly modest system.
The major strength of this speaker, however, lies in its unusually coherent and lucid midband. Our choral excerpt sounded clean, clear and free from the rather compressed sound that had been audible during previous presentations with other loudspeakers. Stereo imaging showed good depth and the overall sound was quick, lively and musically communicative.
The Argon 1 is a fine little speaker that conveys the musical messages in a more convincing manner than many of its peers. The tonal balance might, perhaps, be a little too restrained for some tastes and systems, but the fine timing, smoothness and overall coherence ensure that it leads the way.
LIKE: Delivers a coherent midband with a seamless crossover transition
DISLIKE: Top end is a little dull, as was the veneer of our samples
WE SAY: Supplies fine midband coherence, alongside a tuneful and entertaining bass
• Large waveguide around tweeter
• Metal diaphragms for both drivers
• Real wood veneer or painted finish
• Rear port with foam bung option
00 31 0493 744020
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