Home Theater Forum and Systems banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,838 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An Arx A5 Initiation Listening Party


by Wayne Myers
AudiocRaver





Introduction

It was a special pleasure to be able to co-host an Arx A5 speaker initiation listening party recently. This involved a brand new pair of A5's, the second pair I have been exposed to. My introduction to the Arx A5 speakers came in August of this year at Sonnie Parker’s Two-Channel Speaker Evaluation Event for Home Theater Shack at his home in Alabama. I heard that same pair again in November. On both occasions, I was impressed that the A5’s are an incredible value and some of the best-sounding speakers that can be had for up to three or four times their retail price.

This brand-new pair of A5’s first went through brief measurements to ensure matching and proper functionality, then of course some private listening time. I do not know who would have the willpower to run a pink noise burn-in without listening for awhile first, but I surely do not possess patience of that sort.



The above set of curves was taken with Room EQ Wizard (6th-octave smoothing). A point in the room was arbitrarily designated for initial measurements - this test was mainly to see good matching between the two speakers of the set. Two measurements were taken, one with each speaker sitting at the exact same point in the room, without the measurement mic being moved at all. The unused speaker was also at the same point several feet away during each measurement. This was then all done again at a different measurement point in the room.

You can see the speakers match very well. Over most of the curves they overlay each other perfectly.


Setup

On the day of the party, the A5’s were set up in the living area designated for the party. The details of the room and the setup process will be documented shortly as an example post for the Home Theater Shack Two-Channel Speaker Setup Guide for a Deep Soundstage.

The room was fairly live with hardwood floors, a medium-sized throw rug, and no special acoustical treatment. The spacing was wide and speaker angling was well outward from on-axis with the listener. We were very happy with the soundstage and imaging given us by the A5’s, and by their tonality in that room. We had followed “golden mean” guidelines for their positions in the room and for the Primary Listening Position (PLP), or “hot seat,” which ended up being a small office chair for lack of an easily-movable comfy chair. One guest took a turn in the hot seat while the others sat on one of two large sofas.

Here is the frequency response we ended up with at the PLP, Left (red) and Right (green), 6th-octave smoothing.



Media Sources and Amplification

Our available sources were:
  • Laptop running foobar2000 playing files from an external hard disk drivr (HDD), Fiio E7 used as DAC
  • FiiO X3 media player
  • Pro-Ject Essential turntable with Ortafon OM5E cartrige
Amplification:
  • Denon AVR-790, 90 W / 125 W into 8 ohm / 6 ohm

The Guests

The guest list must remain confidential to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent. It included the individual who at one time had the Internet’s largest file sharing repository of Dream Theater tracks, and who was actually served notice by Geffen Records to shut it down. Cool! (Not downloading, but cool having him with us!) Obviously, we were to hear some Dream Theater tunes.


Overall Sound Quality

With very little trouble, we were able to achieve an excellent soundstage and sharp, stable imaging. The soundstage had nice depth and good depth acuity, or clarity of specific depth in the soundstage. Tonality was very good, with strong bass and even highs.


The Tracks and Impressions

ZZ Top, Eliminator album, including
  • Gimme All Your Lovin
  • Got Me Under Pressure
  • Sharp Dressed Man
  • I Need You Tonight
  • I Got the Six
  • Legs
from Vinyl. This 1983 album was a clean record with minimal wear, so it was a fun way to start showing off the A5’s. A lot of older vinyl becomes the limiting factor in a critical listening session. The A5’s are very revealing and leave a record’s high-frequency imperfections totally uncovered. I could see how some listeners choose speakers with a more laid back presentation for listening with vinyl, especially with worn copies or with older pressings that might contain more HF noise or distortion. Eliminator, a great classic rock listen musically, was sonically unremarkable. The honest A5’s passed the music straight to us without much to say about it, allowed us to enjoy the music on its own terms.

Porcupine Tree, Arriving Somewhere, Not Here, 16/44 FLAC from HDD. I was in the hot seat for this one, an all-time favorite track that I only listen to on special occasions. This piece covers a wide dynamic range from quiet ambient effects to crunchy metal. The A5’s are effortless in their handling of dynamic range and high volume. They seemed happy to be paired with our 100 W/ch Denon. We had all the power we asked for, never pushing the volume much above 100 dB SPL (peak reading of the slow-averaged, C-weighted scale on our SPL meter, not true peak), although our fairly live room helped make it easy to reach those volumes.

Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon album (all tracks), from 180 Gram Heavyweight Vinyl - first playing of this freshly-opened record. I sat in the hot seat for Money and Us and Them. The saxophone and the vocals on those two tracks had a sheen about the tonality that I had never noticed before. I really enjoyed it, even though it was subtle. Was it the clarity of the A5’s revealing something new, or an element accentuated by the vinyl or the vinyl mastering process? Or both? Like it or not, the A5’s are not about to hide sonic detail. In this case it was a good thing.

The B-52’s, Ain’t it a Shame, 16/44 FLAC from HDD. This is one of my standard test tracks, in this case used to demonstrate the sharp, rock-solid imaging coming from the A5’s. One listener commented on his inability with eyes closed to locate the speakers in the wide soundstage.

Nickel Creek, Ode to a Butterfly, 16/44 FLAC from HDD. Another standard test track for imaging and soundstage. The room is one of the livest I have set up speakers in for critical listening, and is totally untreated. The A5’s both fill it with soundstage and manage to keep its components separately defined. This track has lots of empty space between instrument locations, and the A5’s with their tight control of the soundstage kept those spaces empty.

Dream Theater, Home, 16/44 FLAC from HDD. We pushed this track LOUD, and the SPL meter got to 100.2 dB SPL (true peak was probably 6 dB or more higher). Solid bass and crystal highs make tracks like this one tempting for the volume rider to push and push and push some more. I gave the hot seat listener a nudge of encouragement for that last few dB.

Iron Maiden, Wasted Years, 16/44 FLAC from X3. This is not the clearest recording for demonstrating speaker quality, but we were there to have fun. Having great speakers properly set up spoils you for great sound really fast. Without both of these conditions met at least fairly well, all recordings sound mediocre or worse. With decent speakers and a good setup, many listeners learn over time to steer away from low-quality recordings, even old favorites. A party atmosphere can lower listening standards, however. Ah, well, we were there to have fun, right?

Captain Beefheart, Dachau Blues, 16/44 FLAC from HDD. Someone saw this on the HDD and asked what it was like, so we played it. The A5's did not freak out over the Zappa-esque 60's weird rock, simply allowed me to hear it more clearly than ever before, and perhaps sounding a little more lively, too.

Muse, Knights if Cydonia, 320K MP3 from HDD. Another track insisting on higher volume levels, in this case a max reading of 101.1 dB. The listening position was close enough to the speakers that the liveness of the room never overcame their ability to keep the soundstage present, cohesive. The overall sound was lively but never out of control, even at high volumes.

King Crimson, Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With (EP version), 320K MP3 from HDD. There are still some higher quality mp3's lurking in the old hard drive collection here and there, and while I normally insist on FLAC or WAV files for critical listening, an occasional fun MP3 never hurt anyone. Did I say that out loud?

Dream Theater, Constant Motion, 224K MP3 from HDD. Dream Theater’s recordings are about as expertly-mixed as they come for heavy, complex music. While hard driving music is never a problem for the A5's, the low-distortion components chosen for the A5’s are, in a word, CLEAN. Together, they make loud sound like the “new soft.”

Shins, Phantom Limb, from Vinyl. The Shins’ recordings are all so snappy and -- have I used the word clean yet? Once or twice? You could not even tell this came from vinyl, which is intended as a complement to the medium’s ability to be transparent. A somewhat bright mix, the mid and tweeter drivers put on their shine for the Shins.

Gorillaz, Rhinestone Eyes, 16/44 FLAC from HDD. The instant-on / instant-off nature of the synthetic rhythm sounds can use the A5's a chance to show their quick responsiveness.

Postal Service, including
  • the district sleeps alone tonight
  • such great heights
  • sleeping in
  • nothing better
  • recycled air
from Vinyl. At this point we were winding down. All reactions to the A5's were positive, ranging from Wow to Never heard anything like it.


Conclusions

Arx speakers may never have the household name status of some prominent brands, but they will certainly be known by those who hear them properly as experience speakers. “I had an Arx experience at a friend's place recently. Wow.” They make it hard to go back home.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Wow, thanks for sharing, I definitely want to hear a pair of these :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
I've been thinking of getting a pair of A5 and moving my A3rx-c to surround, and the A3's to surround back. However, I thinking I am going to wait till Jon comes out with the new A5rx-c :). Just the waiting is killing me lol.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,784 Posts
I like these kind of reviews, very positive indeed. I have never heard these, maybe one day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
51 Posts
Wow, this is a really nice review! It really captured the essence of these speakers. Thanks for the hard work in reviewing and posting this!

I've been using mine for a few months now and I am really pleased with them. I originally got these for a mostly HT setup but after getting them setup and broken in, I find myself using them for strictly two channel music listening more and more. I"m digging all my old music out of storage these days. They're great for powerful HT but they really shine (especially for the price) with music.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
I am enjoying my A5's for primarily HT duty.........the clarity of voices and the dynamics these speakers produce are seducing me the most. I can also use them without sub for all music ( no dubstep here!) and enjoy the bliss............

The word on these speakers, as well as the newer A3rx-c and A2rx-c, is getting out...........
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,838 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The A5's are really versatile speakers. Having set them up in several different rooms, they are pretty easy to place. It is almost hard to make them sound bad.

BTW, at Sonnie's place right now, and yesterday spent some time with A5's next to his new upscale Martin Logan Montis fronts. At $10,000 a pair MSRP for the Montis, it is not really a fair matchup. But the A5's never fail to make you think about what you can get for the money..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,784 Posts
That is high praise indeed.
I have been so thinking about getting into a pair of mains for the HT that are inexpensive (A relative term) and can give me some of the slam during movies and large scale music performances that my present speakers do not. Hmmmm may have to make some actual decisions soon.
 

·
Plain ole user
Joined
·
11,121 Posts
I finally got my A5s and set them up with my PS6 preamp and B&K amp, running right out of my sound card to the preamp and they sound every bit as good as I remembered. I have an awful room, but even so, they perform well whether I pull them out into the room to get the best image or if I push them against the wall where they will have to live. This is simply an extraordinary speaker that is forgiving yet reveals astounding amounts of detail. I feel very fortunate to be able to own a pair.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,784 Posts
I an so very intrigued by these speakers, I will have to find a way to hear them. My room is apparently no too easy to work with either and not much has worked there, including my beloved Dahlquists, whereas the Arx speakers seem to be somewhat immune to less than ideal rooms. Hmmmm I will find a way. This will give me some time to see the Dahlqust and the Martin Logans.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,838 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I finally got my A5s and set them up with my PS6 preamp and B&K amp, running right out of my sound card to the preamp and they sound every bit as good as I remembered. I have an awful room, but even so, they perform well whether I pull them out into the room to get the best image or if I push them against the wall where they will have to live. This is simply an extraordinary speaker that is forgiving yet reveals astounding amounts of detail. I feel very fortunate to be able to own a pair.
Very cool. Keep us updated. They bring a smile every time I hear a pair, and every time I hear of someone else's delight with them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
I just read this thread through and feel I must thank the OP and commenters for their kind words. Briefly, it's really quite gratifying to find that a seemingly minor design philosophy developed a couple of decades ago - one instilled by a late associate and the many hours we spent developing this method - can deliver what I've always felt was an emotional connection with the music.

To me the intriguing part is that it doesn't really have to cost a great deal.

Again, our thanks and appreciation. Craig and I both derive a lot of satisfaction from audio done such that it delivers this kind of reaction. We appreciate that it is received and shared.
 

·
Plain ole user
Joined
·
11,121 Posts
Jon,
You should be very proud of this product. The more I listen to them the more I appreciate them. As you know we have reviewed about two dozen speakers ranging up to $3500 per pair using the same model for evaluation that we did in the first session where the Arx 5 was so well received. While there are certainly things that many of the more expensive speakers do better, by a very small margin, I continue to be intrigued and pleased, and continue to discover something new in music that I have been listening to for many years. The emotional connection to the music is certainly one of the things that the A5 delivers on. As I said in the review, very few speakers call me to listen more, or call me when listening from a distance. It is hard to describe how pleased I am with this product.

Maybe, as we have discussed before, it is because we happen to share some priorities in speaker design and performance, but after being around the business for over 30 years I think those priorities resonate with many, if not most people. Low distortion revealing great detail, and careful matching of components to produce a consistent and coherent sound over a wide range is hard to argue with.

Count me as one huge fan. This speaker is a tremendous value.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
It is our pleasure to but serve, Leonard, and as long as you bring the records we'll try and make stuff to play them through.

***

I should probably also repeat a note from the other Chane 'Arx' thread in the HTS speaker forum. The A5 has sold out its last production, as has the A1b. The next and probably final major design generation for the A5 is due to stock in about 90 days. That will complete the C series for all model platforms. The line will become "Chane" by brand.

After that time we expect no more out-of-stock status for any Chane model, and we foresee no fundamental product changes for platforms A1 through A5 aside from deluxe options to them and periodic evolutionary updates within them. We do anticipate that by "deluxe options" we're looking at a parallel product series some time in 2014.

If we do encounter a big new advantage we can bring to the line, naturally that may give us yet another product generation; probably named the D series. I do not expect one today, but I want to make the distinction that the C series may be the semi-final level aside from incremental improvements here and there.

(And yes, an A7 tower and beyond will both include all C technologies and principles and will launch as part of the C generation. No, we do not have dates or even final product designs beyond the A5 platform, again as of this date. When we do we'll reveal them here.)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,539 Posts
I would like to hear these speakers too.
It is very popular for people to say you don't have to spend a lot to get good speakers, but I have never really heard a pair of speakers that I thought played above their price point.
I have run across several that played below their price point though so if that happened to be the measuring stick I would agree lower priced speakers would outperform one of those.
In this case though are enough people with no investment that have picked this speaker based on nothing other than its sound that I am intrigued.
It took a real leap of faith for me to order a ID subwoofer, not sure I could ever do it with speakers without hearing them first.
 

·
Plain ole user
Joined
·
11,121 Posts
I have heard many hundreds of different speakers over the years. In most cases it is hard to say that a speaker is clearly performing above or below its price point because the decision is so subjective. Many times speakers that I considered very good values or very poor values are judged just the opposite by others. This is one that I don't think many people would find anything other than it being an exceptional value. They were so good that I ended up with a pair, even though I don't have a great place to put them right now, and have plenty of speakers. Even placed poorly in my room, they are constantly playing. They have pulled me back to listening to music that I have not heard in years for a fresh experience.

You won't here me go on and on praising many products, but this is a real standout. I could afford any of the speakers we have auditioned so far, and chose these.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
310 Posts
Now i am starting to get intrigued .. from a price point standing it's great and this year i was thinking about making a change in my front stage ummm :scratch:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,539 Posts
Yes, speakers are the most subjective piece of the music listening experience.
The only ones I have heard that I thought sounded perfect to me cost almost as much as my house...worth it??...NO. LOL, not even close to worth it...but they did sound spectacular.
The ARX A5 speakers surprised your whole group in the $1000/pr evaluation when there was no ownership or other loyalty involved.
Since these actually come in at less than $1k they certainly seem to be a very good value.
I don't need more speakers, nor do I have anyplace to put them, but like a lot of others I enjoy listening to new speakers on occasion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Wow, excellent review. I was planning to buy a pair of these in the near future, but my sub is making" death rattling" sounds, so now sub first, speaker upgrade later. Oh well. Thanks again for the great review.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top