HiFi Test Highlight 6/2017
(Original PDF can be downloaded here)
“Arendal means nothing to me“. This is what many readers will think when they hear or read the name of this manufacturer. As journalists, we already had a first encounter with this Norwegian brand and were absolutely impressed by everything we could read and hear during the 5.1 review of our sister magazine HEIMKINO. In our current issue, we are testing the big floorstander “1723 Tower“ for you.
Very firm metal cross bars and adjustable metal spikes fix the 50kg speaker to the ground. It is also possible to use rubber feet in order to protect the floor. The adjustment can be done without any tools.
Arendal is a bucolic town in Norway. Jan Ove Lassesen, born and raised there, has strong roots in this place and therefore named his company after it. By the way, you might be interested in the origin of the product name “1723“. No, it is not the amount of drivers fitted or the power rating. In fact, it is not related to any technical aspect of the product. The town Arendal was granted trade rights for the first time in the year 1723 and that is why the company founder and CEO, Jan Ove Lassesen, chose that number for his first loudspeaker range.
The range currently consists of eight models, including the flagship “1723 Tower“ presented here and offered for 2.700 EUR per pair in a customer direct sales concept. For this money, the resolute customer will receive a big floorstander with a really massive appearance. Due to the considerable 50kg weight, we recommend to getting a strong assistant for unpacking. Once the speaker finds its place in the room, it is time to marvel at this impressive Floorstander with dimensions at 37 x 120 x 40 centimeters, resting on its solid feet.
Other manufacturers try to make their big speakers look smaller by optical tricks like a specially slim front baffle, or curved side walls. Arendal is different: they stand by their dimensions and leave it as a very honest, straight-lined design. The front baffle is beveled on both sides and slightly tilted backwards. There are no further “optical illusions”. The build and finish of this floorstanders is very convincing: the drivers sit with millimeter-precision on the baffle, the coat of lacquer on the housing is excellent and the materials used are totally convincing.
Two colors, in two different finishes are available. The boxes in black matte are convenient for the use in a dedicated home cinema room, close to a projection screen. In a living room, we would rather recommend the pleasant alternative in white matte. At a very moderate surcharge of 100 EUR, it is also possible to order the high-gloss models in white or black.
The Norwegian direct-sale company believes in their products and grants a full 10-year warranty. If you are not totally convinced with their products, you can return them and get a refund during their 60 days Buy & Try.
Sturdy speaker terminals allowing bi-wiring or bi-amping are fitted onto a large, anodized-aluminum plate.
Frequency response – above a gentle bass roll-off, it displays a very balanced curve with the best polar response. Remarkably high sensitivity overall.
Waterfall – the decay time above 1kHz is very fast, without distinguishable resonances. Minimal delays can be discerned between 300 and 800Hz.
The manufacturer fits four 8” woofer drivers on the 50mm thick baffle made of HDF (high density fiberboard). All four 170mm diaphragms reproduce the bass range up to 120Hz and only the two upper drivers take care of frequencies up to the 1500Hz crossover. From here on, the waveguide tweeter is responsible for the musical portrayal. The dome tweeter comes from the renowned manufacturer Dr. Kurt Müller, in Krefeld.
Arendal applies steep fourth-order filters to obtain a harmonic interplay of all five drivers and, above all, to avoid unnecessary strain. Thus, the drivers are crossed at 24dB/octave.
A large neodymium ring magnet powers the waveguide tweeter. The underhung voice coil design and the ferrofluid cooling allow a huge power handling.
Three bass-reflex ports on the back side of the loudspeaker allow to tune the bass performance by closing one or more ports with the included foam plugs. When all of them are closed, the 1723 Tower works as a sealed box down to 55Hz. When leaving two or three open, you can extend the bass response down to 34Hz.
The 50kg speakers rest firmly on the floor thanks to solid traverse bars with vertically adjustable spikes. Internal bracing and a butyl-based differential mass damping layer ensure a totally quiet cabinet. The perforated metal grills are fixed magnetically to the front baffle.
Picture box: the 28mm tweeter dome is mounted onto a big waveguide to increase the sensitivity and improve the polar response.
We allowed the Arendals to break-in for several days before our listening tests, like we do with all loudspeakers, because their full qualities will only manifest after this. We delve all the way through our musical testing repertoire and listen to soft and hard tones, to small and big ensembles, quietly and exceedingly loud. What can we say? The Arendal 1723 Tower executes every piece willingly and delivers competently. In front of such a big speaker, “the eye is bigger than our ear” and we rather expect a wild, brute tonality. We could not be more wrong with the Arendals: this pair of floorstanders sounds refined and well-balanced, thrilling with deep-reaching bass that hits precise and crisp, while showing no weakness in the mids or treble.
The spatial imaging in our listening room is managed well. The Arendals stagger nicely the width and depth. The new album “Heaven upside down” from Marilyn Manson challenges the speakers at high levels, but they play with ease, staying composed even at ear-splitting levels. Eight 20cm woofers can simply shift loads of air and it is nice that they do it with such a high precision. The old master Gary Numan also produces a great sound in his late-breaking album, very competently brought to our ears by the Arendal Twin-Towers.The 1723 Tower stays always effortless and relaxed, but then shows the required bite and attack for an attractive and thrilling listening. Classical and solo singers sound also wonderful through this duo. The Arendals sound really tidy and well-balanced, without emphasizing any specific frequency range.
Picture box: it is possible to tune various low frequency -3dB points by plugging or unplugging one or all the bass-reflex ports
There is little room for criticism in the frequency response of the Arendal 1723 Tower. The sensitivity is good, the polar response is very good and its tonal balance is also excellent. Just the somewhat limited bass depth does not meet the expectations. Below approximately 65Hz, the response starts falling down, although it does reach the deepest bass regions with its rather gentle roll-off. From 1kHz upwards, the 1723 Tower makes its magic to produce a spotlessly clean waterfall diagram where we can discern some few resonances. The Arendal shows also its best regarding distortion, achieving convincingly low values.
We found out that the Norwegian loudspeakers are really exciting. The Arendal 1723 display a big and mighty appearance and then show a really superior sound, capable of handling any situation. Build and finish are very good, the design is very straight and the price for a speaker pair is extremely attractive.
Sound (70% of total score) : 1,0
- Tonal balance (20% of total score): 1,1
- Precision of imaging (15% of total score): 1,0
- Resolution of details (15% of total score): 1,1
- Spatiality (10% of total score): 1,0
- Dynamics/agility/vitality (10% of total score): 0,9
Test bench (15% of total score): 1,0
- Frequency response (5% of total score): 1,1
- Distortion (5% of total score): 1,0
- Power handling (5% of total score): 0,9
Use (15% of total score): 1,0
- Workmanship (5 %): 1,1
- Features (5 %): 1,1
- Manual (5 %): 0,9
SUMMING IT UP
+ high sensitivity
+ high power handling
+ superior sound
Final score: 1,0 – Top class
Outstanding price/performance ratio
(Original PDF can be downloaded here)