Apogee Duetta II loudspeaker Anthony H. Cordesman part 3

I did notice listening room limitations at higher power levels. I was getting a bit too much reflected sound when I really cut loose, but this was relieved by better placement. I also found I got better results in this area of sonic performance when I switched speaker placement from 3.5 feet away from the rear of the long wall, to one-third the distance of the room from the rear wall. This produced an immediate major improvement in transparency at very loud listening levels, although at some cost to the size and depth of the soundstage. Since your room is certain to be different from mine, this indicates only that you should experiment.

As my wife said at the start, the Apogee Duetta IIs, more than any other speaker, remove an entire layer of coloration from the sound. They are at least a truly excellent speaker system; I strongly suspect that more extended listening will reveal they are the new state of the art.

There are a great many things I have to learn, however, before I can fully report on the overall spectral balance, room effects, and amplifier- and speaker-cable match. I hesitate to say that this is the most value for money I have yet encountered in a high-end speaker only because I have not had the time to search out any minor quirks; nor have I heard the Duetta IIs with their active crossover.

You also need to show a bit of sense before rushing out to buy a pair. Not everyone has a room in which they can place speakers 3 feet from the rear wall and give 2 feet clearance on the sides. You may still need a good cone speaker with no rear radiation, even if you can afford the Duetta IIs. I should also stress that we sometimes underestimate the level of progress and sophistication available at moderate prices from designers like Thiel, Vandersteen, and KEF.

I have heard so many dipole speakers work well in small rooms and badly in large ones, however, that I would not rule out using the Duetta IIs even in small rooms, after tuning their placement for the best compromise of room interactions. I'd just caution you to work closely with your dealer. No dipole speaker can easily be placed in a small listening room.

I suspect that the Duetta IIs will rapidly force competing speaker manufacturers to make whatever improvements they can in their existing line. I would not sleep easily were I making Magnepan, Quad, or Martin-Logan speakers—or even the larger Infinity Reference series. Yet these are all outstanding speaker manufacturers at the top of the high-end pyramid.

Apogee already seems to have forced Bob Carver to rip off Apogee's styling in order to compete. One wonders what manufacturers who do compete with Apogee will do to equal or surpass this new level of sound quality. The Duetta IIs are brutal competition, and I expect a sudden flood of new ribbon systems a year or two from now, as other manufacturers begin to catch up.—Anthony H. Cordesman

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