Pure home theater for rooms with little space
We have been lucky enough to be able to test a set of Arendal Sound 1961 speakers for a few weeks . The manufacturer has been very kind and has let us choose the configuration for the review. We have decided on a 5.1.2 configuration with the main towers, the center channel, two surround speakers with Tri-Axial technology, two Atmos speakers and the 1S subwoofer. A relatively compact set, ideal for small and medium-sized rooms, since they occupy much less space than their older brothers.
elegant design with premium materials
The 1961 series is largely based on the superior model. As they indicate from Arendal, they have taken all the knowledge acquired with their high-end model and have applied it to more affordable speakers.
The entire Arendal Sound 1961 series is built from a custom 28mm tweeter and waveguide combination, with 5.5-inch woofers. For the enclosures, the manufacturer has used HDF (high-density fiberboard) instead of MDF, which is noticeable as soon as you pick up the speakers.
And another thing that we are going to notice right away when we touch them is that they do not have the usual vinyl finish that the vast majority of manufacturers use. The 1961 series comes in a high-quality paint finish, available in black and white. Since Arendal allowed us to choose a color, I chose white, since I was curious to see if the speakers had the grayish tone that can be seen in the photos on the manufacturer’s website or not. And I can tell you no, they are pure white. As soon as we take them out of the boxes we realize that we are not dealing with a low-end or even mid-range product, but rather a premium system. All speakers are quite heavy and very well finished with no blemishes . We do not see any slits, or joints between the woods, or screws, or anything similar. The different drivers are perfectly integrated into the structure, which makes the speakers look elegant and modern.
Everything discussed so far is common to the entire Arendal Sound 1961 range. Going to more specific speakers, we are going to focus first on the main speakers of the set: the 1961 Towers. The exterior design of the 1961 range towers is a bit unusual in that the cabinet tilts back about 5 degrees . Theoretically, it has been designed this way for a better integration of its different drivers.
And since we are talking about them, I will tell you that each tower is equipped with the same 28 mm tweeter that we find in the top range , but in this model a ferrite magnet has been used instead of neodymium. The tweeter is mounted within a sizable waveguide , providing a wider, more even dispersion.
Each tower also equips four 5.5-inch woofers , one of them being located above the tweeter and the other three below. Although they look identical, they are actually not exactly the same. The bottom two woofers handle the lower frequencies, while the top two handle the midrange. Placing the tweeter between the two midrange woofers allows for better integration between the midrange and high frequencies.
Although the towers look like sealed speakers, they are not, as they have a narrow slot-shaped bass reflex port at the bottom of the rear. The slot is covered by default, but we can remove the foam if we wish. Of course, if we remove it we will have to move the tower away from the wall, since otherwise we could have a negative effect. The frequency response of the 1961 Tower is 49 Hz if we use them in sealed mode and 39 Hz if we prefer them in ventilated mode .
The towers are accompanied by metal supports in which we can place both spikes and round supports finished in rubber. It’s also worth noting that, unlike most speakers, the 1961 Tower has two front grilles . Each of them covers half of the speaker.In short, we are facing some really elegant and beautiful towers (at least they seemed so to me). They also have a fairly compact size for tower speakers, with dimensions of 87.8 x 16.3 x 28.5 cm (height x width x depth) with the spikes on and a weight of 17.9 kg per speaker.
As for the other models of the Arendal Sound 1961 system, they are all quite similar. The 1961 Center is a sealed speaker that is equipped with two 5.5-inch woofers and the same tweeter found in towers. It has a magnetic front grille that is slightly curved and has dimensions of 42.5 cm wide, 16.3 cm high and 15 cm deep , with a weight of 7.25 kg .
Honestly, I was very surprised by the size of the center, since I expected it to be much larger. I understand that Arendal has sought that users can locate it comfortably. But will this affect its performance? We see it later.
For surround sound I asked Arendal for the 1961 Surround . They are slightly different speakers than usual, since they have a Tri-Axial configuration . More specifically, they are sealed speakers equipped with a 5.5-inch woofer and the aforementioned waveguide tweeter on the front. But they also have two 3-inch full-range speakers on the sides .Otherwise, the speakers follow the same design as their siblings in the Arendal Sound 1961 series. They have a magnetic front grille and can be hung with its key-hole or a optional VESA 100 mount. The speaker connectors have a small cut-out that allows the cable to pass without affecting the seating of the speaker on the wall (very well thought out). Its dimensions are 28.7 x 16.3 x 18.5 cm (width x height x depth), with a weight of 6 kg , so, without being huge, they have a certain size.
For the Atmos effects the Norwegian manufacturer sent us the 1961 Height . This model is designed to be placed on the towers as well as to be hung on the wall or even on the ceiling . It features a 5.5 – inch woofer and 28mm tweeter configuration , mounted in a wedge – shaped enclosure that is tilted about 10 degrees .
The 1961 Height have dimensions of 28.3 x 16.3 x 14.9-10 cm (height x width x depth), with a weight of 4.4 kg per speaker . Several things have caught my attention about these speakers. First, its rear part is completely covered with a soft and smooth material , designed not to damage the upper part of the towers if we decide to place them in that position. On the other hand, they have the same cut-out to channel the cable that we have seen in the Surround. Very interesting details that demonstrate the good work of Arendal.
The last, but not least, is the 1S subwoofer.
1961 SUBWOOFER 1S
The size of the 1S surprised me as I expected it to be smaller. He is a pretty punchy subwoofer, with considerable size and weight. The dimensions of it are 42.7 x 31.5 x 41.5 cm (height x width x depth), with a weight of 20 kg . It has the woofer placed on one side and we can cover it with a round magnetic grille . And by the way, it’s a sealed subwoofer , so we won’t have any problems placing it in the room.
But if something draws attention to the 1961 1S, in addition to its design, it is its rear. Arendal has replaced the usual configuration knobs and switches with a small 1.8-inch screen . Under the screen we have a control knob and a couple of buttons, which will be the ones that will help us move through the menu.
The configuration system through the screen offers us greater precision in the adjustments and possibilities that we do not find in a subwoofer with normal settings. For example, an equalizer is included with two equalization presets (one designed for listening to music or for smaller rooms dimming from 40Hz). We can also configure everything related to activation or inputs in a much more visual way. It is something that is not usually found at this price level.
The only drawback that I see with this system is that, by placing the subwoofer in place, the screen will generally be covered and at a very uncomfortable height for handling . It is true that, as a general rule, we are not going to be touching the subwoofer settings.
Arendal Sound 1961 – A perfect integration to bring the cinema to your home
Now let’s see how the Arendal Sound 1961 behaves in terms of soundl. For the test I used a NAD T778 as an AV receiver , which should be able to move the speakers with ease. The Arendal Sound 1961 are not very efficient . The towers and the center have a sensitivity of 87 dB , while the surround and the Atmos have a sensitivity of 84 dB . With the NAD I have been able to move them without problem, but I have noticed that I needed to turn up the volume a little more than usual to get the same sound pressure. So with entry-level AV receivers we could have problems.
I have mentioned before that the new Arendal Sound 1961 series falls into the category of home theater speakers. And not without reason, because they do a really good job with movie soundtracks . The system is very precise and offers a clean and detailed sound . In fact, although they are cinema-oriented, Arendal has opted for a more revealing and transparent sound, instead of the warm and colored sound that other manufacturers of home theater speakers tend to opt for.
Another impressive aspect of the Arendal Sound 1961 is the magnificent integration of the system. Partly due to the receiver, no doubt, but this is only possible if the different speakers match in terms of timbre. And in this set all the models go in unison. On the other hand, the dynamics offered by the speakers is also really good , being able to hear everything from the smallest details to the most imposing effects perfectly. The truth is that this speaker system impacts with a truly impressive volume and dynamics .
That perfect integration that I was talking about makes the speakers “disappear” in the room, making it very difficult to locate them, which is great. If I have to put a downside to the Arendal Sound 1961 set, it is that the center seems slightly small to me . Although thanks to the waveguide it achieves a broader sound than we might expect for its size, it sometimes seems that it has a hard time keeping up with the towers . Generally this won’t be a problem as it delivers clear and deep voices when needed, but if you have a very large room it may fall short.
The performance of the surround speakers is perhaps what has impressed me the most. I admit it, I had never tried speakers with a “Tri-Axial” arrangement of the drivers, but I have loved Arendal’s. Even though those extra 3-inch drivers aren’t found anywhere else in the Arendal Sound 1961 system, there’s no sense of tonal mismatch at any point . These “small” surround speakers create a really big sound space , making the transition between the front and rear speakers smoother. In fact, at times it seemed to me that I had 7 speakers instead of 5. Amazing.
Of course, depending on how the room is, the placement of this type of speakers could become a problem. For this reason, or for users looking for a more direct, less of a wide surround sound, the Arendal Sound 1961 range has the 1961 Bookshelf.
As for the Atmos speakers, I have tried them both placed on the towers and hung on the wall behind the TV. I don’t have the possibility to hang them on the ceiling. In the first location, I was worried about the slight tilt of the enclosure, even more so considering that the towers also are tilted back. And yes, the Atmos effect is there and it’s interesting, but I didn’t get to feel it as much as I expected . Maybe it’s because of the height of my ceiling (just over 2 meters) or because of the material, but it left me with wanting more.
With the Atmos speakers placed in the upper front position, things improved a lot. The height speakers maintain the same essence as the main ones, with clear and clean effects . They also offer enough power to be Atmos speakers, so their presence is noticeable (as long as the source material is good).
Two more notes to close the analysis. The 1961 1S subwoofer is really good . It is equipped with a 12.2-inch woofer and has an Avalanche 550 IQ amplification system that provides no less than 550W of power . With all this, it is capable of filling a medium-sized room without breaking a sweat, enlarging the sound space and perfectly supporting the rest of the system.
The last note I wanted to make is about the performance of the 1961 Tower in stereo. The towers of the Arendal Sound 1961 system offer a clean, detailed and vivid sound . Despite being developed with cinema in mind, they do a really good job with music . They offer a sound without coloration and with very good dynamics, as well as making it clear that they will not flatten if we connect them to a high-power amplifier. As a weak point we could say that the woofers, being smaller, have less punch than I would have liked. But, even so, they are very valid to listen to any type of music.
Spending thousands of dollars buying a speaker system online may be little short of a “leap of faith”, but the fame that Arendal Sound has gained in its short life is no accident. With the Arendal Sound 1961 range, the Norwegian manufacturer once again demonstrates that they are not like the others. Even in a series designed to offer users more affordable speakers, the manufacturer still offers features that are not common in this price range.
The Arendal Sound 1961 are very well designed speakers, with a premium finish that is noticeable right out of the box. They offer a neutral and transparent sound, with magnificent dynamics and perfect integration. In addition, the 1961 series is made up of various types of speakers, which will allow us to set up a home theatre system according to our needs and tastes.