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Amphion Prio 620

AV Cables

afg

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I have been into this hobby (addiction, vice....) for about 8 years now. The journey over these years have been pleasurable starting off with Nad and Lithos, moving on to Monitor Audio Bronze 2s and Audio Analogue Puccinni, then to Krell Integrated and Dynaudio Audience 82s and then to Caying A88t tube amplifier. About a month back I bought the Amphion Prio 620s but to the dismay and morbid indignation of my wife (somehow wives and audio systems don't mix). So that's been my long and winding but expensive journey to audio nirvana. My current system is therefore, Amphion Prio 620s, Cayin A88T tube amplifier, Rega Planet CDP, NAD turntable and Transparent cables.

Wanted to share my impressions on the speakers with you all.

Brief description of the speakers and its physical attributes:
Amphion is a Finnish company which has been in existence for sometime. Their speakers are based on the 'Wave-guide' tweeter concept which enables the crossover point to be below the sensitive range. Generally, most of the speakers have their crossovers at the 2k-4khz range. Most of the musical instruments are in this frequency range. Having a crossover at this range does tend to negatively influence the sound a bit. Taking it out of the equation results in the mid-range being more pure and clean. That's why electostats sound so transparent and good. Amphion (and some other speaker manufacturers) achieve this through their wave-guide tweeters.

The Prios are a new model (laucned in 2007 I think) desgned by the founder of Gamut, a high-end audio company. The core design concept, including the wave-guide tweeters, however remain the same. The 620s were introduced in 2008.

The speakers are a two-way floorstands with a titanium waveguide tweeter flanked by SEAS made paper cone 6.5' wookers at the top and bottom. They are rear vented with two vents at the bottom. The speakers simply look gorgeous with real-wood birch veneer. Sensitivity is 90 db with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. I believe the speakers impedance curve is benign with no dips below 4 ohms. This makes a tube-amp friendly speaker (20 W minimum power requirement).

The sound:
In one word, mesmerizing. To be frank, I have not heard too many high-end speakers. This speaker is great in the sense that for the price paid, the incremental benefit I have got has been tremendous. While the more expensive speakers I have heard (including the more expensive Dyn Contours/Confidence, Revels) may be better (the associated equipment I have heard them with were also state-of-the art), they were not that much better for me to be compelled to shell out more money. The only speakers which I think were exceptionally good and bettered the Amphions by a good margin were the Manger floorstanders (Rs.6 lakhs) and the Quad Electrostats. I think, for me, the Amphions were at the sweet spot in terms of price to value.

I think the wave-guide concept works as I feel as a curtain has been lifted (sorry the cliche) of sorts from the sound. I can now hear substantially more from the CD than what I could hear earlier and with the tone and timbre which is stunning. Piano (attack and decay is very realistic), Sax etc sound absolutely stunning. The speakers are extremely detailed both in terms of the high-frequencies and mid-range. On the other hand they are also extremely smooth, mellow and relaxing. This is a sort of a contradiction as there is a perception that highly detailed speakers could also be tiring in the long run. However, there is no listener fatigue out here even at high volumes (unless you play harsh recordings which it does not tame). The mid-range is sweet sounding with voices in particular being nuanced and detailed. Bass is also well defined and goes down probably to around 30-35 hz in my room on tracks which contain this information. However, I do wish that the bass was a wee bit tighther but I think this is my room issue rather than the speakers.

The other aspect I found was that the speakers have great timing and are fast. This is an extremely important of music which makes it come to life specially in jazz. This characteristic imparts great musicality to the speaker. To use the old cliche again, my feet were tapping to the music. I can now here the nuances and interaction between the musicians much more clearly than earlier.

Sounstage was good though not exceptional. I find them better in conveying depth rather than width (probably a placement issue). Probably because of the wave-guide technology, placement was a bit difficult, but once I got it right, everthing just clicked into place. Imaging is good. Once placed correctly, images are solidly implanted between the speakers.

Just to give an example of the soudtrack 'Radha Kaise Na Jale' from Lagaan CD (which most of you will be familiar with), the song starts with the cymbals (what does onecall that Indian instrument in English??) in the right. I could actually here metal hitting metal in a realistic way instead of the slightly thinner jangled nature (more like 'ching ching ching' earlier) of the which I have heard on some systems. The drums, which immediately follow, sounded much more realistic, with nuances (fingers hitting the drums could be clearly heard with the corresponding pressure applied making them appropriately softer and louder if you know what I mean) and with proper pitch definition. The dandiya sticks that follow ( I think) also sound very woody. It sounds like wood hitting wood. Asha's voice sounded much sweeter and I could hear a couple of fading echo's after Undit Narayan's first line very clearly. Sometime in the middle of the track, the chorus singers join in. I always found them a bit compressed and grainy sounding. With these speakers, there was no grain and the chorus voices were placed in a relaxed manner behind and above the speakers.

I also played the old Kishore song, Chalte Chalte and boy his voice gave me goosebumps. What a melodious and yet powerful voice. Even the guitars in the song sounded so good. And this is a 1970's recording. I also played the songs from Sagar on LP. The recording is surprisingly very good. The LP sounds very organic and warm.

In short:
Positives: Fantastic timbre. Extremely detailed but yet relaxed and mellow. Can play loudly without fatigue. Very musical and music is presented in one cohesive fabric. I was worried about the titanium tweeter but they are very smooth.

Negatives: Bass could be tighter (but that could be my amp/room). Some heavy bass tracks in symphonies sound mushy though this is certainly the low powered amp and not the speakers fault. Will not be able to play symphonies at concert volumes (but that again is thanks to my amp). Placement could be tricky.
 

rikhav

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Hi Afg
Excellent review of a speaker which was fairly unknown to newbies like me. I have read the name "Amphion" on some other thread very recently.
It feels good to learn so much about music and hifi equipments from members like you on hifi
 

Spidey

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Good review.. must be very costly spks.. us $ shows around 5k.

Is this the right pic?

Amphion-450.jpg
 

afg

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Nice review, though a little short - some pictures of this very nice speaker would have helped.

The Seas paper woofers are not known for their bass accuracy. They become non-pistonic at high levels of bass output and definitely need subwoofer assistance. However they reward with extremely smooth and flawless midrange, and that is probably what you are hearing. They are not the cleanest drivers around, but are very smooth and are recommended where simple crossovers are a requirement.

Amphion uses Seas drivers almost exclusively and the only reason I did not buy a pair was that I am already building something with Seas drivers, and the Argon (which I could afford) was very close to my driver choices (mine was without the waveguide though).

A quick technical note: Most musical instruments are *not* in the 2-4K range. The reason for the waveguide is to enhance the low frequency power handling of low-cost tweeters and to enable a crossover before beaming becomes a problem (a 6.5" driver will beam at 2KHz, a 5" driver at 2.8KHz). The additional benefit of reducing cone modes is an added benefit. The power handling of the tweeter may also mean a simpler crossover, which brings its own sonic benefits.

Of course the over power handling of the system will not be as good as a system with a higher crossover point, but with a good ferrofluid tweeter it is possible to run the system all day at pretty high levels. I know of a project which crosses over a Seas tweeter at 1450 Hz (!) and the system is able to handle plenty of power (and without a waveguide). The waveguide obviously increases the space between the drivers, so it may require to be placed at a greater distance than usual for proper summing (Genelec, for example, tackles this very nicely with an asymmetrical waveguide).

Once again, great review of a very good pair of speakers. Enjoy them :)

Thanks Cranky. You are right that a number of musical instruments cover a broad frequency spectrum and are not limited to that 2-4 khz range (but some are in that range like the human voice. Probably what I should have said is that are ears are very sensitive to the frequencies in that range so the reproduction has to be pure and undistorted to get some sense of realism. However, I am not a technical expert so I defer to your views.

I am getting ample and well defined bass from these speakers. The bass is much much better the bass of the Dyn Audience 82s but the speakers are in differenct price brackets. I have also heard the bass from Dyn Contours and Confidence series and Amphions bass is comparable if my memory serves me right.

What I really like about these speakers is that they are extremely detailed (across the frequency range) but at the same time sound delicate, refined and relaxed. Even bad recordings though sounding bad are musical to listen to.

Thanks once again for your feedback. Appreciate it.
 

afg

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Good review.. must be very costly spks.. us $ shows around 5k.

Is this the right pic?

Amphion-450.jpg

That's the one, but I find the black ones to be ugly. I have the birch finish which looks great.
 

afg

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Great review Afg. What was the price you paid for the speakers if I may ask? Also did you buy them in India or abroad?

I got it at a price equivalent to the US$ price which is $5K. They were purchased in Mumbai.
 

Asit

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Hi afg,
Very nice speakers they are it seems. Sometime ago I read a review about some Amphion speakers in a magazine. Since then I was wondering about this brand I do not know a lot about. Do you get them in India?

Thanks for a nice report. Just be a bit careful about writing on using any hindi/AR Rahman/Indian recordings to describe higher quality equipments. I myself have done that many times in the past. But then in some other thread I found out that somebody was making fun of using AR Rahman music in deciding relatively better systems. Personally I think AR Rahman CDs can be used alright, the mixing is good, only the pressing is not that good. I have many many CDs which are mastered and pressed abroad (both Indian and Western music) and a lot of people bragg about them, but have not really understood the greatness of these CDs as audition CDs (especially when the musicality in some them is pretty poor). The musical message does not always depend on the absolute quality of the CDs. Of course one needs some minimum quality, at times you need the dynamic range .
Enjoy the speakers, and keep us updated.

Regards.
 

afg

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Hi afg,
Very nice speakers they are it seems. Sometime ago I read a review about some Amphion speakers in a magazine. Since then I was wondering about this brand I do not know a lot about. Do you get them in India?

Thanks for a nice report. Just be a bit careful about writing on using any hindi/AR Rahman/Indian recordings to describe higher quality equipments. I myself have done that many times in the past. But then in some other thread I found out that somebody was making fun of using AR Rahman music in deciding relatively better systems. Personally I think AR Rahman CDs can be used alright, the mixing is good, only the pressing is not that good. I have many many CDs which are mastered and pressed abroad (both Indian and Western music) and a lot of people bragg about them, but have not really understood the greatness of these CDs as audition CDs (especially when the musicality in some them is pretty poor). The musical message does not always depend on the absolute quality of the CDs. Of course one needs some minimum quality, at times you need the dynamic range .
Enjoy the speakers, and keep us updated.

Regards.

Thanks Asit

I used that soundtrack as an example as I am sure a number of us will know the track and the recording and will therefore be able to corelate. Sure, it is not the best of recordings, but I found them pretty good compared to a large number of other hindi film song recordings.
 

sonosphere

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Amphion 3L Floorstanding Speaker

Hi,
I am posting on a very old thread, however wanted to share my short-audition experience of another floorstander from Amphion, the Amphion 3L. I was at AV Xellence shop for a stereo cable, and knowing these speakers are available, squeezed in a short-audition.

This is a two-way floorstander. It was driven by Arcam CD17 CDP and a Krell Integrated (forgot the model no.). I played an instrumental CD of L. Subramaniam (old 90's classic > Indian express). Going by ga-ga reports on web, I was expecting a WOW moment, however I was greeted with a very realistic, down to earth sound, akin to band performing in front of you. I was expecting a Giant sountstage as big as universe, however I got a Real fusion band performing on a proabably 15 feet wide stage.

It was a Deja Vu moment for me, as I felt the same when I auditioned my Ushers V-601 for the first time... only this time the realism had far more IMPACT. Like with Usher's, I liked the lack of "exaggerated sizzle" on the top end. Not to say it lacked top-end, some recordings that had large hall reverb, the cymbals shone like... can't explain, with endless decay till eternity (Anybody who knows the sound of Zildjian cymbals in live concert will know). The bass of kick drum was felt within chest... not the boomy type, it was as if you had your head in the Drum kit. It had combination of top-end "thack" of the hammer hitting the skin + the low-end "thud", then the "thud" reverberating in the hollow of drum-barrel. Talk about detail! and none of it is exaggerated.

I noted something unusual, in one song the violin sounded full textured while in the other it sounded relatively flat, among two Kishor Kumar songs (yes, heard those ones too) one song had Kishore Da sitting in front of you (Song: Neele Neele ambar pe) while on other the vocals sounded flatter, contrasting with surrounding instruments that were really dynamic (Song: Chehra hai ya chand khila hai). All these songs when heard on entry-level Hifi didn't show up this difference. My conclusion: You need good recordings to enjoy full potential of these speakers.

As parting note I would emphasize on two remarkable points of this speaker, life-like realistic neutral sound and VERY dynamic.

Regards,
 
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