A bookshelf speaker in XXL-size
A new Norwegian speaker brand promises a lot of speaker for the money. The 1723 Monitor doesn’t exactly go unnoticed in interior decoration, but its’ audio features make it definitely worth getting to know.
Arendal is a city with a population of a little over 40 000 in southern Norway. For over ten years there has operated a company called L-Sound that sells hi-fi equipment online. In Finland L-Sound has become known mostly due to selling products from the American hi-fi manufacturer SVS.
The founders of L-Sound have a long-standing experience of good sound and its’ technology and they decided to design and sell also their own speakers. So a new speaker brand, Arendal Sound, was born.
The product philosophy has a clear relationship with SVS. The goal is a good price-quality ratio, which is pursued by a reduced supply chain among other things. There is no local importer; the customers do their shopping straight from Norway.
Other strengths of the speaker according to Arendal Sound are durability in rougher use, sensible technical design, compatibility in different kind of rooms, quality of the components and good service. The latter can be described with the 60 day right to return the product and a long guarantee: 10 years for mechanical parts and 5 years for electronic parts.
Arendal Sound’s speaker line-up consists of the 1723 Series at the moment which includes a shelf speaker “Monitor”, a floorstander “Tower”, a center channel speaker “Center”, a surround speaker “Surround” and three low frequency speakers “Subwoofer 1, 2 and 3”.
CLOSED OR REFLEX
1723 Monitor is a hefty sight for a shelf speaker. It’s bigger than you would think looking at a photo. Two eight inch bass-mid frequency elements and the treble element placed in between them need their room, which make the speaker 63,5 centimeters in height. The solid enclosure is built out of dense HDF-fiber board, and the interior surfaces are layered with butyl based material. Synthetic wadding has been used to dampen the airspace within the enclosure. The panoply has a mass of almost 27 kilos.
The alternative surface finishes are black matte, white matte, black gloss, and white gloss. The speaker grille is stretched over a steel frame that attaches to the enclosure with magnets.
Arendal Sound considers a low q-value closed enclosure the best low frequency sound reproduction criteria, because it gives a good transient reproduction. Still there are two reflex tube ports with a radius of 50 millimeters on the back wall of the speaker, which can be utilized to adjust the bass levels if necessary. There’s a plug for both ports, so the transformation to a closed structure is easy.
INVESTMENT TO TECHNICAL DETAILS
The bass cone is made of long fiber cellulose that has been coated with a resonance dampening substance. The voice coil is made of copper coated aluminum. The large short-circuit rings made of aluminum give a flat magnetic field on a wide cone deviation range and minimize induction and distortion. There are holes in the cone, suspensions and pole piece that enhance air flow.
The treble has a soft plastic dust cap and a neodymium magnet. The air gap has more fluid ferrofluid liquid. This with the help of a cooling radiator and the short-circuit ring control overheating. The cone is submerged in a large waveguide. With the help of this structure it’s been made possible for the frequency range to start already from 1500 Hz.
All the magnets in the elements are shielded. Back in the day this was needed to avoid distortion in cathode ray tube televisions’ screens when they were placed near speakers, but Arendal’s intention is to block the problems caused by stray fields in air transport. The crossover is a fourth order, meaning a steepness of 24 db/octave. Its’ purpose is to protect the treble from too much power, dampen the bass-mid frequency element’s high frequency resonances effectively, and restrict the interference between the elements outside the crossover area’s frequencies.
The coils are air-core type and have a low resistance. The insulation material for the condensers is metal coated polypropylene. The circuit board has wide copper folio conductors and wiring with minimal inductance. The connector panel is made of metal and the connectors are made of rhodium coated copper.
Arendal Sound recommends placing the speakers so that the listener is on the Monitor’s symmetry axel (ears in treble level), and the speaker is turned towards the listening spot.
BALANCED RESPONSES, PLEASANT SOUND
Extremely flat free field responses were noticed in the measurements and a higher than average sensitivity. The response changes in a controlled manner towards lateral directions. Only in the power response a small discontinuity can be seen in the surroundings of the crossover.
The bass area is on the level of the higher frequencies, so especially in a small room it can be pronounced. Plugging the reflex ports has a minor effect, about one decibel within 30-80 hertz. The reason for such a small difference is the low tuning frequency of the bass reflex.
For a four ohm speaker the Arendal is an easier than normal load. The absolute value doesn’t really go below the nominal value, and the phase angle is fairly small too.
For listening we placed the speakers according to the manufacturer’s directions. After a preliminary testing the other one of the reflex ports was plugged. A big and slightly warm sound is characteristic for Arendal, plenty of authority. Even stronger bass is dynamic and controlled, although the upper bass occasionally has a tendency to a slight rumble.
The tone combines pleasantness and accuracy. The sound is close and clear in a non-compelling way, and the treble doesn’t push forward too much. The mid-range has subtle coloring, but it doesn’t usually catch the listener’s attention. The speaker reproduces quite nicely even small nuances, though it’s at its’ strongest conveying the big picture.
A tone that is effortlessly sensitive, presents details without expression, and fills the front sector with its’ full sound. The tonal balance leans toward pleasant: the midrange is tuneful in a juicy way and the treble is slightly subdued but beautiful. Sound reproduction reaches low frequencies with authority, but the upper bass has a tendency to exaggerate. A slight lack of airiness and nasal sound won’t ruin the fun, and the speaker is at its’ best when properly letting loose. Lusciously striking rock and electro rank on top of the speaker’s core competence areas, not made for snobbery, even though it does convey nuances.
The first and the most sticking impression of the speaker’s sound is massiveness. There seems to be multicolored and layered sound glowing from the entire wall. But the large size doesn’t feel heavy, rather the opposite: details reveal themselves exquisitely, and you’re able to observe the spatial events of the recording properly from a suitable distance. The dissection of the soundscape indeed happens with significant power. The bass that provides a proper pounding if needed, and stays properly in control and in right proportion even in a challenging space when having one of the two reflex ports plugged. The profile of the reproduction stays amorphous in a good way, when immersing oneself in the act of observing the aural action painting forming on a big canvas with big splashes.
A sharp and loosely dynamic grip. Dynamics, clarity, and a certain linearity rather than softly defined tonal painting is pronounced in the sound. The sound isn’t tiresome, but it also doesn’t smooth out weaker material. The soundscape is close and in a certain way sounds effective. Drums thump without holding back. The guitar in Metallica plays just scabby as it should. In any case rougher material works great in the controlled and jagged grip of the speaker. Tiresomeness does lurk around the corner, but almost never succeeds in actualizing. The bass also stays tightly intact and reaches relatively low. Pretty impressive speaker, if one isn’t looking for the most finely tuned instrument for peaceful tonal painting. I also wouldn’t take this speaker to a very small room. More like cold craft beer than for a red wine dinner.
FOR A VARIETY OF TASTES
Arendal Sound offers an interesting addition to the abundant selection in the speaker market. 1723 Monitor’s sound matches well the image conveyed by its’ looks: big and dynamic. Colorations are delightfully minimal, and the speaker seems like quite a universal sound reproducer. Bass accentuating placement is still worth avoiding. The price is very reasonable considering the features.
- + Dynamics and effortlessness
- + Expressionlessly resolving sound
- – Occasionally unnecessarily hefty bass