Audio Artistry Beethoven loudspeaker system Page 5

More important, though, is the aural break-in often required by the listener with this class of speaker. Without the room masking and excess bass many audiophiles have become conditioned to, you'll hear both a lot more and a lot less than you're accustomed to hearing from favorite recordings: less coloration and more musical detail, particularly in the lower midrange and bass. My experience was that, as I listened to an ever-greater variety of music running the gamut of recording quality from poor to awesome, the deeper my appreciation grew for the "rightness" of the Beethoven's performance. So give yourself some time to discover the Beethoven's special qualities.

• The absence of typical pressure variations in the room often takes a bit of adaptation as well, as mentioned above. However, this speaker is so dynamic and moves so much air that most people familiar with live music will adjust rather quickly to its more natural presentation. Indeed, after a few months with the Beethovens I was shocked when I heard just how distorted the bottom third of most systems really sound when played in normal rooms.

Speaking of bass: Don't turn the woofer levels up too high to try to "hear" the subwoofers. That's a mistake commonly made during the adjustment phase. When the subwoofer level is properly set, you should hear no directional clue that any sound is coming from the two woofer cabinets.

• The Beethovens are very easy to set up for good sound, particularly compared to most other large systems. When a speaker demands a difficult, ultra-precise placement scheme to sound decent, it usually signals a fundamental problem with the system's design and/or some room anomaly. In any event, good details are given in the Beethoven's informative owner's manual. Just place the woofers outboard of their respective main panels and adjacent to the side walls, with your ear the same relative distance to the center of the woofer cabinets and to the front of the panels.

The woofers can be either flush against the side wall or somewhat toed-in. If space allows, place the main panels a good 8' or more apart (measured between the two tweeters), and toed-in so that the tweeter axis is aimed across the outside of your shoulders. Also, while the tonal character sounds remarkably similar from just about any position in a room, make an effort to raise your listening position so that your ears are nearly level with the rather high-placed tweeters. This can be done with extra cushions, or an improvised platform under your chair. Doing so will enhance image focus.

• Since this system stimulates the room less and reflects very little from the side walls and ceiling, be careful not to overdo absorptive acoustic treatments. Some flutter-echo control is fine, and a pair of Tube Traps in the corners might be welcome in some rooms, but an overly dead environment will impair the vibrant life these speakers are capable of. I'm all for acoustic treatment when called for, but, like speakers that are difficult to set up, those that require a ton of room treatment to sound good usually have some anomaly.

Final thoughts
The Audio Artistry Beethoven captivated me as much by its grace as by its grandeur, opening up new levels of musical appreciation. After using the system for more than nine months, I'm still continually amazed at just how much information the brain can sort and the emotions assimilate at one time when listening to it.

Certainly, several among the elite of world-class speakers share a number of the Beethoven's superb qualities, such as low-distortion drivers, outstanding resolution, near-holographic imagery, and a beautiful tonal balance. Most of these designs are also immensely satisfying. However, when you add those attributes to this speaker's lack of room interaction, stunning low-frequency performance, and superior real-world dynamic contrast, I know of no other commercial offering that possesses as many virtues and blends them so successfully, regardless of price.

Whether valued from the objective perspective of its parts count, or by the subjective pleasure I've experienced with it, the Audio Artistry Beethoven system is, at $24,750, a bargain! That's a lot of money any way you slice it. The Beethoven, though, remains the single most impressive audio component I've yet encountered—an instant classic, sure to make a real contribution toward future advances in the art of speaker design. Enjoy!

Audio Artistry
8312 Salem Dr.
Apex, NC 27502
(919) 319-1375

JRT's picture

That is an amusing and rather creative "serial number" listed in the specifications.