Audiovector SR1 Series Bookshelf Speakers Review

Posted on 14th September, 2015

Audiovector SR1 Series Bookshelf Speakers Review

Denmark is a small country in Scandinavia. It is a country that has beautiful scenery and a reputation for its stylish high quality furniture. Lego, makers of the popular children’s plastic construction toys also come from Denmark, but perhaps most significant, it is also where the discovery of electromagnetism was made.

Review: Audiovector SR1 Signature LoudspeakersCloser to the topic at hand, Denmark is also the home country of Audiovector. Back in 1979 Ole Klifoth founded Audiovector, firstly under the name of F3/LYD. At that time he had been in the audio industry for 8 years, selling different brands of speakers manufactured by others. He wasn’t altogether happy with the ability of them to reproduce all aspects of musical reproduction correctly. Some were good at one aspect or another, but not all aspects. Not being able to find a speaker which did everything to perfection, he decided to build them himself.

Audiovector make a large range of domestic loudspeakers, from the bookshelf and in wall series to the exciting floor standers, centre channel speakers and subwoofers. They invest heavily in research and development of all the components that are used to produce high quality loudspeakers.  They have created 5 design concepts that are utilised in their core design. The Audiovector website explains those principles and one quickly picks up that they are an engineering based company. Like most things Danish, good design is integral in all their products. They care about doing things right.

Description

The Audiovector SR1 Signature is the model that is under review, distributed in Australia by National Audio Group. The Signature is the second of four models of the SR1 range and retails at for $4,100. The range starts at $3,320 and tops out at $7,750. An optional high gloss finish is available in 20 colours for an additional $1,150. Worth particular mention is that despite the Australian dollar being currently in freefall, National Audio Group has decided to hold the current pricing at least in the short term.

The Signature is based on the same basic enclosure as all the SR1 models, but in this version it uses a heavier rear baffle that assists in absorbing vibration from the cabinet.

Review: Audiovector SR1 Signature Loudspeakers

Evidently a lot of research went into the mechanics of this speaker, the cabinet/ driver interaction, the sandwich technology used for laminating the cabinet with front and rear baffles and the curved sides which are much stronger and vibration resistant than straight sides.

It is a book shelf or stand mount two way loudspeaker, with two rear firing ports. It is reasonably tall at 37cm tall but has a narrow front width with tapered sides, allowing it to look slim and very attractive. The review pair is finished in white gloss with removable black speaker grills that show off the hi-tech pair of drivers. It looks great with the grills either on or off, allowing either a formal or casual look in my opinion. I’m a fan. Perhaps it’s the good taste and design of the Danes, but they convey a feeling of European quality and good taste. If you don’t like the white finish, there is the choice of black, or two wood finishes available to match it to your own décor.

At the rear are the two ports, which are moulded into the rounded rear panel with a grated guard to keep fingers and small insects out. Connection is via two sets of extremely good quality speaker binding posts at the rear, also suitable for bi-wiring.

Audiovector uses the 3rd generation Evotech tweeter in the SR1 Signature, the fastest and most delicate soft dome tweeter in their range. The membrane is made from natural silk reinforced with carbon fibres. Combining a special accelerator behind the membrane with LCC (Low Compression Concept) technology and SEC (Soundstage Enhancement Concept) open-back system, the Evotech tweeters have both excellent transparency and power handling capability.

To compliment the tweeter, the SR 1 Signature uses a long-throw 15cm (6”) bass midrange driver with fine membrane technology which is essentially a composite sandwich design of carbon glass fibre, and a nomex fibre mixture. It is very rigid, yet very light. The voice coil is wound on an extremely light and stiff titanium former, which reduces delay related distortion. The result is a vastly improved transient response.

Review: Audiovector SR1 Signature Loudspeakers

The drivers have actually been designed by Audiovector in-house and then hand built to their specification at Danish company, Scan-Speak, one of the world’s most famous factories for loudspeaker drivers.

The drivers are fixed to the cabinets with a 3 point fixing method in a special way that optimises the energy transfer between the driver and cabinet. One could accuse Audiovector for being fussy and exacting because even when it comes to doing up the bolts, they apply a carefully researched amount of torque to which each bolt or nut should be tightened. This is aimed at lowering distortion and increasing dynamics. Even the crossover uses specially selected components with 1% or better tolerance capacitors to ensure that every speaker passes an exhaustive quality control check. All of the loudspeakers are hand built.

Ole Klifoth, the CEO and Chief engineer at Audiovector states:

There is one vital aspect which has remained entirely constant over my +30 years with loudspeaker development: The rigorous process of listening, listening, and listening. If an “improvement” doesn't sound better, it is not an improvement.

To describe Audiovector's speakers in figures and statistics merely proves that they are world-class. But to actually listen is proof that it takes more than great technology to create something truly special.

Setup & Use

The SR 1 Signatures proved easy to setup to get the best out of them. In my room, I prefer to keep all loudspeakers at least 30cm away from the walls and sometimes more, especially the side walls. I didn’t find them overtly fussy at all for placement and am confident that they should sound fine in the majority of homes and circumstances that they find themselves. I preferred them aimed at my ears with a reasonable amount of toe-in, but also found that they sounded acceptably fine above or below ear level, as they project a large open soundstage.

Review: Audiovector SR1 Loudspeaker

They also worked well with a wide range of amplifiers. I tried everything from a 110W/channel AVM CS 2.2 to the NAD M22 250W/channel. Providing that you are sensible with the volume control, they will play very cleanly and with increased levels of punch and bass control. But there is no need for that much power to get these to sound nice as a clean 50W/channel amplifier will also get the job done very nicely. Of course as with any purchase I recommend that you listen to the prospective amplifier pairing yourself.

With the two pairs of binding posts available for connection to the amplifier, I found that the metal strip that connects the posts does slightly change the tone of the sound. I used a single pair of speaker cables with banana plugs and depending on whether you plug them into the top or bottom row, the amount of high frequency energy changes. You can think of it as a tuning device for your own personal taste and liking.

Listening

The SR 1 Signatures are a sonically likeable speaker. They have an easy going nature that allows you to put on your favourite music and just sit back and relax listening to it. It is well balanced, with smooth integration of the two drivers and a reasonably flat frequency response, which is inoffensive and enjoyable. While the supplied pair already had some running hours before arriving, unsurprisingly I noticed that the more that they seasoned with use, the smoother they became. I had them playing all day in the background and enjoyed them with a wide variety of music being played. It is difficult for me to categorically state what genre of music they suited best, as virtually everything sounds marvellous.

For my first real auditioning I lined up “The Last Resort”, the 2006 debut album by the Danish electronic musician Trentemøller. How could I resist? This album debuted as #5 on the Danish Albums Chart. In Denmark, The Last Resort was certified platinum in October 2009 for sales over 30,000 copies, a rare feat for an electronic music album. This album contains some incredibly deep bass and frankly not all loudspeakers enjoy playing it. The SR1s had no difficulty at all. I was surprised at how well they faithfully reproduced all the complex electronic tones and still sounded smooth and unfussed. With only a 15cm mid/bass driver you wouldn’t really expect it to produce excessive bass, but what was reproduced was really excellent, tight, tuneful and with good bass weight and extension. There was more than reasonable slam and speed and all of it sounded like it wasn’t trying overly hard and becoming stressed. The track “Evil Dub” sounded like it was coming out of a much larger set of loudspeakers. It is apparent that the cabinet, drivers and crossovers are very well designed and doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, the total package operating in harmony.

Review: Audiovector SR1 Loudspeaker

Obviously, as they are bookshelf in size, they are incapable of producing the room shaking bass of much larger floor standing speakers. You’ll need to climb a few rungs of the Audiovector ladder for those who prefer that ability. Still, I can honestly say that I didn’t wish for any more bass than what the SR1 Signatures delivered. The sound was well balanced and upsetting that balance would not be appropriate, as it would diminish from the overall equilibrium. It was in keeping with the rest of their qualities.

Changing genres, Barb Jungr “I’m a Believer” is a slow take on the old Monkees classic song, well recorded with natural instruments. Listening to the high resolution version is fantastic. The piano sounds full and natural, as it should and is easy to listen to because it just sounds right. The cello at the opening of the track is glorious, very real and the timbre is correct. Her voice is front and centre, with quite a forward sound presentation. There is tons of detail and the background effects by the percussionist fills out the soundstage, impressively.

Chet Faker “To Me” was reproduced with a huge wide open sound stage and with lots of detail. The saxophone has a nice amount of bite and the drifting atmosphere sound playing softly in the background has a very good spread of sound both in height and width. Chet’s voice sounded as natural as I’ve heard it, even on speakers that cost many times the price of the SR1s and that’s impressive. There is also a realistic amount of speed in the snare drum and that certainly adds to the sensation of realism.

Doug MacLeod “Whose Truth, Whose Lies” is another track with a large open soundstage, allowing one to look into the recording space and to pick out the musicians and instruments in the recording space. On this track I found the edges of Doug’s voice a little sharp and with some biting edge to it. The same goes for the cymbal work. It could also be described as harshness as it wasn’t the smoothest sound. Perhaps this is being a little picky with this particular model of SR1, as the next model up in the range, the Avantgarde, has a different tweeter altogether, described as an air motion transformer, although it looks like a small ribbon style of tweeter. Of course as you pay more and move through the range one naturally expects more. It’s nice to know that you have choice and there are options to suit your expected level of perfection as well as your pocket.

In Denmark and other countries, Audiovector have an upgrade policy that allows a cost effective upgrade to virtually any higher model. For instance, the SR1 Signature can be upgraded to the SR1 Avantgarde and the SR1 Avantgarde Arreté. Currently that service isn’t available in Australia, but National Audio Group are looking at introducing it here in the future. This allows you to buy a product and to get more out of it in the future without the need to take too much of a hit by needing to sell it on the second-hand market.

I played a far bit of Jazz and Blues with the SR1 Signatures and generally found them to be very suitable for these genres. But that’s not to say that they are limited to only live or natural recordings. Gary Numan “Big Noise Transmission” is an industrial rock track with lots of energy and I was pleasantly surprised just how “big” they sounded with solid extended bass, good energy throughout the frequency range and a large soundstage. There is lots of layering of electronic sounds, effects and reverbs in Gary’s modern music and the SR1 Signatures have no problem extracting all the detail and cleanly presenting it to the listener. They certainly doesn’t skimp on detail, nor do they simply gloss over it, but rather it’s like looking through a clean window that will allow you hear new things in your favourite albums.

I listened to the same track with the Harbeth HL5 loudspeakers and although they are a much larger loudspeaker, there was no additional bass extension, but rather a slight blurring of some of the bass detail that I enjoyed so much with the SR1 Signatures. The top end was also comparatively blurred and although smoother, diminished some of the detail and attack that makes the track sound grungy and raw. Granted it is not a likely track for most Harbeth owners, but by way of comparison, it highlights the strengths of the Audiovector SR1 Signature loudspeakers.

Finally I hooked up a pair of Dynaudio BM6 loudspeakers, which are also a bookshelf speaker and they sounded a lot closer to what I heard from the SR1 Signatures. They have similar punchy and extended bottom end, with perhaps just a tad more bass weight. But they didn’t have the same ability to layer all the detail that was happening in the midrange and lower treble area, with less ability to hear all the fine detail work from the guitar and synthesizer. Overall the Audiovector SR1 Signature loudspeakers trumped both of them quite convincingly for this track and style of music.

Conclusion

I think that it would be safe to say that if you do listen to wide variety of music then the Audiovector SR1 Signature would be a very suitable choice. They are able to be played over a wide range of genres and to sound very good with all of them. That is exactly the original design requirement of the founder Ole Klifoth for Audiovector, and I happy to report that it is being met. It is a bit of a rarity in the industry and certainly having a flexible speaker is a requirement for most of us, especially when multiple musical tastes exist within the same household.

I believe that they are good value for money particularly when nearly all imported loudspeaker brands are currently experiencing substantial price increases. When you consider the technology that is used at Audiovector in producing these speakers, the wonderful fit and finish, the overall Danish quality and of course the stunning sound of them, they are easy to recommend. Do audition them if you are in the market for loudspeakers.

PROS

  • Large sound stage, Detail, Flexibility, Attractive design, Quality, Hard to criticise at the price

CONS

  • Slight harshness in the treble with some tracks

Specifications

  • 3rd Gen. Silk Tweeter

  • SEC Treble System  

  • Non Parallel Surfaces

  • 2nd Gen. DFF Cross-over    

  • NES (No Energy Storage)    

  • Frequency Range -6 dB: 43-27 kHz

  • Sensitivity (8 Ohm): 87,5 dB

  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ω

  • X-over Frequencies: 3000

  • Power Handling: 160W

  • Height/Width/Depth cm: 37x19x28

  • Net Weight: 11 kg/pair

Audiovector is distributed in Australia by National Audio Group.

Mark Gusew's avatar

Mark Gusew

Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early ’80s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now splits his time between professional reviewing and AV consultancy.

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Posted in: Hi-Fi Loudspeakers Bookshelf / Standmount
Tags: national audio group  audiovector  sr1 signature  loudspeakers 

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