Audio Physic Avanti III loudspeaker Page 4

Certainly the Avanti III's overall character wasn't as "rich" as, for example, the Amati Homage's. The lack of midbass warmth could also contribute to the sensation that the speaker couldn't fill a moderately large room. In fact, it's recommended for rooms of 210-460ft2 with ceilings of average height. My review pair had no problem filling my moderately sized, 15' by 21' (315ft) space.

There's a solution to the bottom-end problem: Add a subwoofer. There are two new subwoofers coming from Audio Physic, but they weren't available for this review; I used the older AP Rhea. The Avanti III's clean and subjectively flat low-end response, which sounded as if it rolled off evenly below 40Hz, meant that dialing-in the subwoofer without overlap was not difficult. The result was bottom-octave extension without midbass muddiness.

I hear you: "$11,000 and I still need a subwoofer?" Well, you don't need a subwoofer with the Avanti III. There was plenty of satisfying, well-defined, nonmechanical deep bass, but not of the stomach-socking sort. The bass definition I got was of the "six-pack stomach variety": tight and exceptionally well-defined. Bass of the stomach-socking variety will require a subwoofer. So will reproduction of the biggest organ pipes.

But if your main concern is with the Avanti III's rhythmic talents, don't worry about a subwoofer. The speaker's abilities to swing, carry a beat, and communicate rhythm and pacing were absolutely first-class. In that regard, the Avanti III beat the Infinity Prelude, the Virgo, and the Amati Homage, which rhythmically delivers a mature and satisfyingly wet kiss compared to the Avanti's muscular teenaged tongue.

High clarity, ultra-low distortion, accurate timbral and rhythmic presentation, breathtaking soundstaging (width, depth, and height), three-dimensional imaging, natural focus without hyper edge-definition—you should hear all of these attributes and many others if you audition the Avanti IIIs in a well-set-up demo. But most important, the Avanti III delivered music with ease. And despite their analytical honesty, and unlike some other analytical speakers, they did so without imparting a medicinal aftertaste.

Comparing an original UK Island pressing of John Martyn's exceptionally fine Solid Air (Island ILPS 9226) with the recent Simply Vinyl reissue revealed subtle but striking differences: By itself, the SV reissue sounded like an outstanding recording. The original, however, put holographic, 3-D Martyn in a space—my room—and made the reissue sound cardboard-cutout two-dimensional by comparison. This difference was audible through the Amati Homages, but not with the same stark, vivid clarity.

Listening to the Avanti IIIs late into night after night, I experienced new insight into the physical and emotional underpinnings of some of my favorite recordings. The mental nourishment was accompanied by waves of sheer, sensual sonic pleasure. How much more do you expect a loudspeaker to communicate?

Rather than beat you over the head with a play-by-play of what my usual reference recordings sounded like through the Avanti III, I've tried to convey the big, generalized picture. Like the Infinity Prelude, the Avanti III proved that it's possible to design a flat-response loudspeaker that does not sound antiseptic, bright, or hard—one that still manages to communicate the meaning and mystery of music while presenting a vivid, accurate, and detailed picture of what has been recorded or what is being reproduced. VTA set too high? You'll know it.

Truly flat response should open up the timbral palette, not create a cold, sterile, monochromatic musical world. The Avanti III proved that. It easily delineated the delicate individual instrumental colors within an orchestra's massed strings, for example, while preserving the coherence of the whole. The difference between spurious "detail" created by response peaks and genuine detail created by flat response was made clear by the Avanti III's performance in the mid- to high-frequency range.

Though not particularly large speakers, the Avanti IIIs produced a very large, airy sonic picture while managing to "disappear" from sight, even when I stared at them. Not since I owned the Virgos have so many newcomers sat in the sweet spot to listen, only to say, "Where's the music coming from?"—or to point to the amplifier between them and say, "Is it coming from there?"

Audio Physic speakers are noted for their holographic imaging and superb three-dimensional soundstaging. No one will be disappointed by the Avanti IIIs' spatial performance, which is not only exceptional but among the very best I've heard. I stared them down with the lights on and they still managed to exit the building, leaving me in the presence of a musical event that asserted itself with uncommon ease.

The Avanti III proved to be a low-coloration, low-distortion, high-performance speaker free of glaring tonal glitches or rhythmic discontinuities. While, like the Virgo, it brought a great number of strengths to the table, it was the Avanti's overall balance that impressed and kept me coming back for more, night after night. Aside from a slight leanness in the midbass, that missing bottom octave, and poorly designed gold-plated binding-post knobs that feature finger-shredding, pain-inducing ridges, the Audio Physic Avanti III is a superb-sounding loudspeaker that I'm betting will measure as impressively as it sounds.

I periodically begin to think I've stripped all of the hidden detail from the pits or grooves of my favorite recordings, but then along comes a component like the Avanti III to reveal new details and, more important, fresh musical insights.

Longtime Virgo owners waiting for something meaningful to move up to within the Audio Physic family can stop waiting—the Avanti III is markedly better in every way. Anyone else looking to drop $11k on a pair of loudspeakers should consider the Avanti III as well. It delivers.

Audio Physic
US distributor: Immedia
1717A Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 559-2050