I have been using – and loving – the Audiovector R1 Arrete stand-mount loudspeaker since the review in Issue 176. In many ways, the elegant, upgradeable two-way R1 is the ideal loudspeaker for us sophisticated metropolitan types (I live in London, have some Arvo Part recordings and have once eaten smashed avocado on toast in a coffee shop run by hipsters with quirky facial hair and a sleeve of tattoos). But there is one thing the R1 cannot do as well as its bigger brothers… bass. Which is where the Audiovector R Sub Arrete comes into play.
by Alan Sircom
As the name suggests, the R Sub Arrete is at the top end of Audiovector’s performance grades, but unlike the loudspeakers, there is no upgrade path to Arrete standard. It does, however, form part of Audiovector’s Individual Upgrade Concept, so when next-gen improvements to the Audiovector subwoofer happen, the company will make them available as upgrades to existing R Sub Arrete owners. Given there are people upgrading Audiovector loudspeakers originally built two decades ago and bringing them bang up to date, this is no empty promise.
The Audiovector R Sub Arrete features a 250mm long-throw, low compression front-firing carbon fibre bass driver, fed by a 400W Class AB amplifier with cryo-treated components, and augmented by a down-firing passive radiating long-throw 250mm driver. All in a non-parallel cabinet with a laminated battle sporting the company’s own Nanopore damping material, that takes up a shade less than 40cm all round.
Audiovector’s ‘signature dish’ (two of the best restaurants in the world – Noma and Geranium – are both based in Audiovector’s home city of Copenhagen; these reviews aren’t just flung together at random, you know) is Freedom Grounding, the additional grounding mechanism that earths the chassis of a drive unit through the AC mains earth, thereby lowering potential for noise and distortion in the driver itself. It also has high and low level inputs. for audio use, go with the high level input that connects to the speaker terminals of your amplifier.
Like most Audiovector loudspeakers, the R Sub Arrete takes a good 50-100 hours to run in, but because it’s an active loudspeaker that ties into the performance of main speakers in the room, you should re-evaluate the settings once that run in is complete. And, although it seems like I end up saying this in every subwoofer review we have ever run, in audio settings, it’s all too easy to set a subwoofer too high. Play something with a simple bass line and a singer centre-stage (although it’s very ‘audiophile’, play ‘Ballad of the Runaway Horse’ by Jennifer Warnes on the 20th Anniversary edition of Famous Blue Raincoat or Rob Wasserman’s Duets) and dial in the subwoofer until the voice begins to snap into tighter focus in the middle of the loudspeakers and the bass lines just ‘walk’ more succinctly. Now do the same a few weeks later when it’s all run in!
Any good subwoofer designed for audio use has not only to have the depth to reinforce the bottom-end of the two main loudspeakers, but also be fast enough to keep up with the smaller, more fast-moving treble and midrange units. In the process, well set-up and well-made subwoofers are most directly noticeable in their improvements to the midrange, even if their own impact ends at around 180Hz (as is the case here). This combination of characteristics is no easy task and many subs that do wonders in home cinema systems (where their role is pure sound reinforcement) fall flat in audio settings (where their role is as much sound enhancement). The Audiovector R Sub Arrete is a excellent subwoofer for music.
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See also TOP 10 Subwoofers
The R Sub Arrete simply ticks all the boxes you need for a sub in an audio setting. Put it in a system and it all but disappears sonically. but take it out and the sound collapses back to its pre-subbed space; the soundstage shrinks, instrument voices seem less natural and everything sounds a little bit insubstantial. When it’s in place, your system is better controlled, has a more natural and lithe sounding midrange, better integration between that midrange and the treble, and the soundstage gains solidity and space. It’s not that you made a mistake in the choice of loudspeakers – far from it, in fact – but the R Sub Arrete just brings out the last scintilla of performance from those loudspeakers by letting them do their job unconstrained by having to play very deep bass. It’s uncanny,
“The duo of Arrete models just sings, and sings far deeper, wider and sweeter than you would expect.”
but the R1 Arrete and R Sub Arrete combination in a small to medium sized room is one of the most immediately arresting, enjoyable speaker systems you can get, whatever the cost. Bigger loudspeakers don’t necessarily bring better sound in this setting; they often just bring ‘boom’. The duo of Arrete models just sings, and sings far deeper, wider and sweeter than you would expect. It’s also – and I really don’t know why this is the case – more rhythmically engaging, which is a bit of a feat, given the R1 is already a loudspeaker that delivers maximum temporal funishment! Regardless, it just gets more foot- tappy, and that’s a big bonus.
The R Sub Arrete’s natural home is within an Audiovector system, but it is not uniquely bonded to speakers from its own line. Swapping the R1 Arrete for the KEF LS50 Meta showed just how quick the R Sub Arrete’s reactions were. It fills in the bass, fills out the midrange, and fills up the soundstage just as well with KEF’s shining small star as it does with Audiovector’s own. In fact, I’ve been giving the R Sub Arrete a bit of a pounding with several stand-mounts and floorstanders and it’s only the almost preternaturally fast Vivid Audio Kaya S12s that outpaced the subwoofer.
However, I still maintain that most Audiovector R Sub Arrete subwoofers will likely end up with Audiovector owners, and many of those owners will be using R1 stand-mounts or R3 floorstanders. and they will absolutely chew someone’s arm off to get this subwoofer in their systems. Not because it has an Audiovector badge (although that probably helps), not even because it’s future- proofed, but simply because it works so well and makes those R1 and R3 speakers sound even better than ever. Audition at your wallet’s peril!
Audiovector R Sub Arrete
Finishes: African Rosewood, Black
Ash, Italian Walnut, White Silk as standard. Custom paint finishes on request
Best Audiovector R Sub Arreté prices ?
See also TOP 10 Subwoofers