Amphion Argon1 Review
It’s been a good six years since we’ve seen anything from Amphion and while the original Argon1 was the winner of our standmount Group Test in HFC 353, it has recently undergone something of a refresh.
It retains its remarkably neat and compact design with the 25mm titanium dome tweeter mounted in the center of a large waveguide that matches the diameter of the mid/bass drive unit. The tweeter hands over to a 133mm aluminium mid/bass driver at a relatively low 1.6kHz.
As part of the refresh, the mid/bass driver is augmented by a rear- mounted bass port that now sits directly behind it with the terminal panel placed above, which depending on your choice of speaker cable can result in the wire being visible from the top of the speaker. There’s no bi-wiring facility. While a 316mm-tall speaker with a 133mm mid/bass driver doesn’t sound like a recipe for large amounts of low end, Amphion quotes a surprising low frequency response of 45Hz at +/-3dB, which is impressive for a speaker of this size. This is combined with a relatively benign impedance of 8ohm and a sensitivity of 86dB/1W/1m, which should ensure it’s a relatively easy load to drive for many amplifiers.
Provided that it isn’t jammed up against a rear wall, the Argon 1’s cabinet is impressively decoupled from the space it is in. With a very slight toe-in, there is a large and very even sweet spot that works happily both nearfield and listening further back. Within this flexible listening position, it demonstrates an extremely spacious and three dimensional performance. The midrange in particular is exceptional, allowing A Fine Frenzy’s Almost Lover to be reproduced without any perceived congestion or compression. Alison Sudol’s lovely vocal turn has the scale and texture required to make her sound impressively real.
The biggest surprise is the bass response. Jan Garbarek’s saxophone in In Praise Of Dreams is underpinned by some deep percussion and the Amphion does a better job than you might expect at relaying this with a force you feel as much as hear. What is notable is that the impact doesn’t come at the cost of forcing a vast amount of air from the bass port. There is no sense of sluggishness or
PRODUCT Amphion Argon1
TYPE 2-way standmount loudspeaker
DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 160 x 316 x 265mm
- 1x 25mm titanium dome tweeter
- 1x 133mm aluminium mid/bass driver
- Quoted sensitivity: 86dB/1W/1m (8ohm)
DISTRIBUTOR Auden Distribution Ltd.
the distinctive ‘whoomph’ sound to low notes and everything starts and stops with thrilling alacrity.
This speed and sense of agility makes itself felt in almost everything that the Amphion does. The fast guitar work of Bjorne Berge’s Live In Europe is delivered with nothing missing or subsumed in the relentless barrage of notes. This ability to pick recordings apart and reveal their inner workings doesn’t mean the Argon1 will take poor recordings to pieces, though. Compression is dealt with well and all but the most low bit-rate internet radio remains listenable. Poorer-quality material can aggravate the high treble response so it comes across as fractionally forward, but this generally only becomes an issue at higher volumes.
What has more of a consistent effect on the Amphion is that some care should be taken when thinking about partnering equipment. While it isn’t especially hard to drive, it has no trouble in showing the limitations of any equipment further up the chain. Connected to NAD’s M32 integrated amplifier the performance is excellent, but a test run with the supremely talented Rega Brio (HFC 422) isn’t quite the knock out combination I’d expect. Some of that excellent bass response is lost and the effortless sense of space becomes slightly constrained. This may be as simple as the difference in output – the NAD claims three times more power than the Rega – but the Amphion definitely sounds superior with the more upmarket amplifier.
A slight fussiness to what it partners with best is the limit of any criticism for this remarkably entertaining little speaker. Its ability to fit into fairly confined spaces and show off its strengths of speed, clarity and musical joy in any environment is sure to win it many friends.
A compact standmount capable of delivering excellent performance in many different settings
- Fast engaging transparent sound; unfussy placement
- Needs some care with choice of partnering electronics