Audiovector R 8 Arreté loudspeaker

Many loudspeaker designers are minimalists at heart. They embrace a design aesthetic that says that simpler is better. Based on the evidence of the company's R 8 Arreté, Ole Klifoth, of Danish loudspeaker maker Audiovector, is not one of those designers.

On its website, in the Specifications section for its "R"-model loudspeakers (footnote 1), Audiovector offers a long checklist of technologies, many of them optional, some of them, called "Concepts," assigned snappy names and acronyms: IUC for Individual Upgrade Concept; LCC for Low Compression Concept; SEC for Soundstage Enhancement Concept; NES for No Energy Storage; FGC for Freedom Grounding Concept; and NCS for Natural Crystal Structure.

Several Audiovector loudspeakers come in different versions, sort of like trim levels in cars: Pay more to get more. The R1, R3, and R6, for example, come in three levels: Signature, Avantgarde, and Arreté. The differences among the levels can be meaningful: The R6 Signature has a soft-dome tweeter, while the Avantgarde upgrades the tweeter to an air-motion transformer (AMT) tweeter. The Arreté version has an AMT tweeter, too, but the Arreté's tweeter employs an integrator grid behind the dispersion lens, which helps to integrate it with the other drive-units, and a "special resistive termination." The Arreté adds a a rear-firing midrange driver, the Freedom Grounding Concept, and Natural Crystal Structure.

Audiovector's two largest speakers, the flagship R11 and the one-step-down R 8, are only available fully loaded, in the Arreté trim level, which is to say, the options aren't optional—except for one, sort of. In the US, the R 8 Arreté—the product under review—sells for $69,995/pair plus a ($3850) upcharge for the optional grounding cable, which is necessary if you want to take advantage of the Freedom Grounding Concept.

The R 8 Arreté
I first encountered Audiovector at the 2019 Toronto Audiofest. The R 8 Arreté was in the room, but the room was small, so the smaller R3 Arreté was getting most of the playing time. The R3 sounded very good, like a complete speaker, one that was well thought through. I was struck by several aspects of the design including the relatively lightweight enclosure, the openness of the cabinet, and especially that grounding cable and its associated grounding terminal. It was the first time I'd ever encountered that in a loudspeaker. I was also struck by its appearance: The R3 was attractive.

I'm not sure I paid much attention at the time, but here in my living/listening room, the much larger R 8, with its acres of glossy "Piano" Italian Walnut Burl veneer, is more than pretty. It's gorgeous.

Mounted on the top, front part of that lovely wood-grain cabinet is a matte-finished aluminum-alloy baffle; all the front-firing drivers are mounted on this baffle, with contrasting polished rings providing just a touch of bling, luxury with a hint of ostentatious fun, enough to make you grin a little even before the music starts playing. Pride in ownership. A black grille comes standard, but who would cover up that lovely front?


That pleasingly blingy baffle holds three 6.5" midwoofers designed by Ole in collaboration with a couple of other, unnamed driver specialists and built elsewhere (footnote 2), each with a different passband, plus, as already mentioned, the company's most advanced AMT tweeter. The woofer cones combine carbon fiber and aramid fiber (think Kevlar) "loaded with synthetic wood resin." This last piece of information comes courtesy of Audiovector CEO Mads Klifoth, the designer's son. Mads continued: "Both these fiber types are strong, and together they form a very stiff, light, and sound dead membrane. This one is the one we have chosen over many others in our listening tests." Voice-coils are wound on titanium formers. Because titanium is less magnetic than aluminum, which is slightly paramagnetic, using titanium instead "drastically reduces hysteresis compared to most other drivers," Mads told me.

A convex aluminum panel runs the length of the backside of the R 8's teardrop-shaped cabinet. At the top of that panel, opposite the tweeter, five horizontal slots, each about 5/16" tall, allow the tweeter's back wave to exit to the rear; that's part of the Soundstage Enhancement Concept and also perhaps the Low Compression Concept. A few inches farther down that back panel, opposite the topmost midwoofer, a 4" midrange driver fires to the rear through seven horizontal slots—another piece of the Soundstage Enhancement Concept. This rear-firing 4" driver uses "a polypropylene membrane and a strong magnet," Ole told me. Farther down are two port openings, each venting through seven horizontal slots, one serving the chamber shared by the two lowest-frequency midwoofers, the other serving a down-firing isobaric woofer.


Isobaric woofers are rare in the hi-fi world, though not unheard of. The isobaric concept was invented by Harry F. Olson in the 1950s; "isobaric" means "equal pressure," achieved by having two identical drivers firing in phase in a single chamber so that the region between the two drivers isn't pressurized. Olson's insight was that the bass output achieved by such a configuration is equivalent to what you'd get with a single driver and twice the cabinet volume. (Since the extra driver takes up space, the actual yield is less than double.) The downside: It takes more current to feed two drive-units instead of just one. Which makes the R 8's amplifier-friendly specifications—8 ohms nominal impedance, 92.5dB/W/m sensitivity, equivalent to 92.5dB/2.83V/m if it is an 8 ohm speaker—surprising.

The R 8's isobaric woofer system is a variation on Olson's original concept in that it uses woofers unequal in size: a 6" driver internally and an 8" driver on the outside; the 8" driver uses a carbon-fiber cone, and the 6" driver is similar to the front-firing midwoofers. The R 8's elegant, slotted aluminum base directs the woofer output in a controlled manner to the rear and sides.

In the course of writing this description, I've come to recognize an apparent Audiovector design philosophy, a unifying concept behind the acronyms. Ole Klifoth aims to keep things free and easy, the pressure low and stored energy minimal. The LCC, or Low Compression Concept, means the cabinet is open so that pressure doesn't build up too much on the inside—no more than necessary. The teardrop-shaped cabinet minimizes standing waves in the internal air space, and the enclosure is relatively lightweight so that it cannot absorb and store much energy. Don't lock energy up inside the speaker; rather, send it out into the air as music.


The R 8 Arreté sends energy out into the air via no fewer than nine sound-radiating openings, only four of them—the three midwoofers and the tweeter—firing forward. The others are the down-firing woofer (which radiates through those base slots to the back and sides), the rear-firing midrange driver (diffracted through those five horizontal grooves), the vent that allows the tweeter's back wave to emerge from the rear, and the two aforementioned ports. This rather complex radiation pattern is summed up in Audiovector's SEC.

While I'm on the subject of "concepts," here are the others. NCS stands for "natural crystal structure"; it means that all the copper parts used in the speaker are cryo'd. FGC, for "freedom grounding concept," is where that grounding cable comes in.

A grounding cable for loudspeakers? What's up with that? "In one sense, this is quite simple," Ole Klifoth told me in an email. "We are simply grounding the baskets."

When I first heard about it, I thought I understood what it was about, at least a little. Some driver baskets are made from ferrous metal. With all the magnetic activity nearby—strong magnets and magnetic voice-coils—I assumed the grounding was intended to modify eddy currents, which could be expected to influence the motion of the cones much as the eddy-current break on my Thorens TD-124 turntable modifies the speed at which the platter rotates.

Nice theory, except that Audiovector's driver baskets are made of an aluminum-magnesium alloy. They possess no ferrous metal and minimal magnetism. If the FGC is not about modifying magnetic interactions, then what is it about?

Audiovector noticed that different driver baskets were at different electric potentials, which is to say, there was a potential difference, or voltage, between them. "Let's see what happens if we get rid of that," Ole recounted in an email. So they grounded the baskets.

Footnote 1: Audiovector also offers a less expensive series, designated QR. QR-series speakers have fewer "options."

Footnote 2: This approach makes sense for just about any loudspeaker manufacturer, because each specialty driver manufacturer has different tooling. The ability to shop around gives a loudspeaker manufacturer more options. Audiovector's drivers are made by Denmark's Scan-Speak.

F3/Audiovector ApS
Mileparken 22 A
DK-2740 Skovlunde
+45 3539 6060

MZKM's picture

It certainly looks amazing (not sure if $70,000 amazing), but I find it odd that the tonality can’t be more linear (doesn’t have to be flat, just smooth), but nice to see the wide directivity allowed by having multiple drive units of different sizes.

georgehifi's picture

"The R 8's demand for current will be ameliorated by its high sensitivity, but it should be used with amplifiers that don't have problems driving 4 ohm loads".

Looking at the fr and -phase epdr impedance across the bass, I think an amp that's not going to have any problems driving 2ohms is more the call, as many Class-D do 4 ok but into 2 many ????

Also looking at the spatially averaged room response, they look to be bass heavy and for a speaker this price I'd expect a flatter response, like the Sasha DAW
All the more reason with these to have an amp with dry vice like grip at 2ohms, any amp bloat will exaggerate that bass lift.

Cheers George

otaku's picture

That lead photo looks a lot better than it did in the magazine.

MauriceRon's picture

pink noise...?

hello ladieeeees

Lars Bo's picture

Thanks, Jim - very nice to read your positive review of a Klifoth speaker.

More than 30 years ago, my only second speaker on The Never Ending Hi-fi Journey was actually a kit by Ole Klifoth (satellite w/ bass module). The speakers provided years of much enjoyment.

To some extend I agree with your: "We like to say that's it about the music, but for me it's about the sound, too, equally. Music, after all, is made of sound. It is a distinction without a difference". I think most, if not all, audiophiles intensely enjoy the sheer "sound of sound". We react quite emotionally to certain drivers, be they spatial, micro dynamics, tone, klang, just to name a few. Or, indeed, as Herb, home recordings of Buddy Holly "being" in his NYC apartment. Or Art's "touch", perhaps similarly linked to a vivid humanness in sound. The aesthetics of sound is an intrinsic part of audiophile fascination, no?

But, generally and in hi-fi as well, I think music is distinctly different from "just" sound. Sound in itself is representational and of a concrete physical world; music is a sound-mediated, presentative art*. Like paintings are yet something other than their paint, and poetry more than its words, music is not reducible to sound (which, musically, is listened through). That doesn't mean the two phenomena are dichotomous; rather, in audiophelia, being about re-creating music (mostly) in our homes, they function hand-in-hand as the fidelity of real music play-back spans the two. Differentiation, though real, is somewhat of an abstraction. In practice, audiophelia pretty much seems to be about a hybrid fascination with the representativity of sound and alive music in authentic play. Perhaps, we all have our personal preferences of focus balances, but rarely, I believe, is intense enjoyment totally devoid of one or the other . Would e.g. (your, it seems to me, also partly musical "reading" of) the sound of tympani and the bass drum be equally emotional, if not skillfully played and conveyed in the context of a grand Mahler's 2nd?

On another topic in the September issue, in Letters, namely pitch of a record player, some additional comments/questions: The threshold for hearing a difference between two isolated pure tones is 1/20 of a semitone (semitone-frequences being ca. 6% apart (and 1,0595 ^12 = 2.0, i.e. an octave)). That translates to a critical pitch deviation of ca. 0.3%, or +/- 0.15%, no? Research shows that threshold is significantly lower for complex tones heard simultaneously, as in music. Along with e.g. in-press deviations, too (not to mention e.g. AAA recordings), vinyl is, on paper, not categorically free of possible audible pitch deviation. Even so, I think, we are many who hardly ever experience the slightest pitch-barrier for full musical and soundwise enjoyment on vinyl. Perhaps analog (heh) to rather high levels of measurable distortion in vinyl, well, simply not distorting.

As you state, people with perfect pitch can adjust to an overall off-pitch, say flat or sharp. But that is depending on music being in equal temperament; with older temperaments or some non-western temperaments this may not be so (as scale tone pitches vary within different fundamental, overall pitches). With equal temperament this is avoided. Then we have to live with a 5th harmonic being about three times greater (i.e. 0,83%) than the threshold for an off major third, a 7th harmonic six times more off a minor (or Mixolydian) 7th, not mentioning an 11th harmonic tritone. I imagine these patterns of off-pitched harmonics are also a part of JA's position on a specific profile of distortion being essential rather than merely raw levels?

Thanks again, Jim.

* As in Thomas Clifton's (Music as Heard): "Music is an ordered arrangement of sounds and silences whose meaning is presentative rather than denotative."

tonykaz's picture

Your PS Audio P10 is a power re-generating system, not a "power conditioner".

I suppose it's a small portion of your Associated Equipment grouping but it's a very large contributor to assured review confidence!

( In my opinion ) every reviewer of high resolution audio gear should have a reliable supply of clean power, shouldn't they ?

PS Audio is the only outfit offering gear like your P10.

Tony in Venice Florida

ps , the review loudspeaker veneer-wood is gorgeous but how do people keep them from scratches and damage? I had a pair of Meridian Loudspeakers in Rosewood that got scratched, ouch, too deep to repair. I also had a pair of Klipsch Corner Horns in Rosewood that were traded in with scratches, it's a pain that keeps on hurting to see and/or remember