@amirm, is there a reason why the PIR isn't presented like on other loudspeakers reviews?This is a review, listening tests, EQ and measurements of the Arendal 1961 Center or Left & Right speaker. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $599 each or $1,099 a pair.
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This is a surprisingly compact speaker but is built like a tank. The enclosure feels like cast metal, ala Genelec. It has textured matt finish and feels like you can drive over it and it would not care. The drivers as you see, have no visible fasteners and have very tight finish and tolerances. The look of quality extends to the back:
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Numerous mounting points are provided. The metal speaker binding is made out of metal and looks so good you may be tempted to have the back side toward you while you listen!
This is an "MTM" configuration (mid-woofer, tweeter, mid-woofer) which classically makes for a speaker with narrow mid-range/treble response. We will see if Arendal has managed to mitigate this or not.
As noted, you can use the speaker in horizontal configuration (as tested) or vertical. There are no ports as is typical in center speakers.
Reference axis was the tweeter center which is inside a deep waveguide.
Arendal 1961 Speaker Measurements
I usually start the review with frequency response measurements. But I think it is best to look at the impedance graph first:
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Notice how the impedance shoots way up as we get close to DC (0 Hz). This indicates capacitive coupling, or said another way, a high-pass filter. We have seen this as a mitigation against overdriving in some in-wall speakers but not in a normal in-room one. Likely it plays the same role here given the small sealed enclosure.
Now on to our anechoic measurements created using Klippel Near-field Scanner:
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That is a very smooth response, sans slight elevation above 2 kHz and a couple of peaks. We can see the classic high-pass response in bass but also another one above 10 kHz. There seems to be a small signature of resonance around 15 kHz so maybe that was the reason for that roll off.
Near-field driver measurements immediately tell us why we have a couple of minor humps in our response:
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The tweeter is resonating there. On the positive front, the crossover is stomping on the woofer resonances out of band which is good.
The high pass filter helps to keep distortion way down for this size speaker when it comes to low frequencies:
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That kind of performance (on the left) is just not seen in such a small speaker. Here is the relative response:
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A key concern as I mentioned with MTM design is narrow directivity. Let's see that:
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Yes we have the beaming but with bringing down the crossover frequency, the effect is partially mitigated allowing nearly double the width that we typically see in small MTMs.
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You should have much wider sweet spot then than you would expect.
Vertically we see much better response of course:
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To the extent you deploy the 1961 vertically, above responses become your "horizontal" response.
CSD/Waterfall graph shows only minor resonances:
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Finally, here is the step response for fans of that:
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Arendal 1961 Speaker Listening Tests and EQ
I started my listening in horizontal configuration. I was dreading to hear lack of bass but that was not at all the case. There was plenty of bass with typical tracks. Alas, the highs had a bit of "showroom sound" with extra brightness. So I dialed in a couple of filters for the resonance points:
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Note that while I started by looking at the measurements, I fine tuned them by ear. I say they may require a bit more work but it got me in the ballpark. Once there, the ability of this speaker play loud and clean surprised the heck out of me. No matter how much I cranked it up, it played clean and very nice! I think the key here was it not doing what it can't do. To wit, I threw my killer sub-bass track at it and instead of getting highly distorted as just about every bookshelf speaker does, it simply played those notes faintly. The spray of distortions in bass into upper range is a problem when this is not the case.
I checked for listening width and it was very good across my entire loveseat. At very close distance, you could detect a tonality change but that was mostly with highs getting narrower and not at all what you usually get from MTMs (where the middle falls out of the picture). It is not as perfect as a non-MTM solution but what is there is very good.
I then rotated the speaker vertically. This comparison was difficult because the tweeter now went above my ears a bit. I thought the overall fidelity improved a bit with upper midrange and lower treble improving slight but this could be a faulty observation. The sweet spot did enlarge with no tonality shift at all across across my loveseat.
Arendal was given a challenge: create a high performance MTM center speaker. While people are quick to completely write-off this configuration for center home theater speakers, there are mitigation techniques. The main one is lowering the crossover point enough so that the dual woofer don't get a chance to beam and stay there. We then get the benefit of dual woofers playing what would be a mid-range in a 3-way speaker (so higher SPL with lower distortion). Mind you, a 3-way speaker can do better but will cost more and take up more space.
The high-pass filter is clever in that it leaves much of the bass response there but takes out what would be pure distortion a small speaker. With this in place, the 1961 is able to produce incredibly high SPLs despite its super compact size -- exactly what you need in home theater applications.
The combination of high pass filter and slight resonances in high frequencies means the sound signature out of the box is rather bright, or put inversely, seems to lack bass to compliment it. With a sub added, this may go away. Alternatively, you can fix it with EQ as I did.
$599 is a fair bit of money for a compact center speaker but for it, you get a beautifully built speaker making you feel like you have gotten your money's worth.
I am happy to add the Arendal 1961 Center/Monitor speaker to my recommended list. It is the most perfect MTM speaker I have tested and oozes good engineering and quality execution.
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.
Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
And some of us prioritize the clean SPL levels required for good HT dynamics, even if having to sacrifice optimal CD on a single speaker in the setup due to size/placement restraints (I don't enjoy setups with no headroom). The remaining speakers still all have optimized dispersion.Like you write everyone has different priorities and it is good like that, some priorise higher SPL and some equal and smoother directivities.
Surely, but not matching to the center one and also the center loudspeaker is according to most experts the most important loudspeaker in a multichannel setup. Unfortunately everything in this world is a compromise.The remaining speakers still all have optimized dispersion.
MTMs do fail in that respect but this one with a 50 degree dispersion does project to a 3m wide sitting area at roughly 3m away or to a 2m wide sitting area at roughly 2m away. I cannot see many HTs that requires a wider dispersion angle than that. Do you?For me this is another MTM which fails at most exactly at what it is designed to do, namely offer several listeners the same centre channel experience, but at least its other measurements are good so it could used in a standing orientation for LR or even as a C.
Almost, 50° width is 2 x tan (25°) ≈ 0.93 times the listening distance, the main problem are the side wall reflections which will be quite different to the direct sound.MTMs do fail in that respect but this one with a 50 degree dispersion does project to a 3m wide sitting area at 3m away or to a 2m wide sitting area at 2m away. I cannot see many HTs that requires a wider dispersion angle than that. Do you?
Very true, already the a listener sitting 20° horizontally off axis will have already up to 5 dB deviations in the midrange compared to a listener in the middle:Also we need to stop propagating -6dB as an acceptable tolerance parameter when even 1 dB in the midrange is significant.
Really???Also we need to stop propagating -6dB as an acceptable tolerance parameter when even 1 dB in the midrange is significant.
1dB is marginal, not significant. What will you call marginal then, 0.1dB -- on a speaker? Have you ever seen such a tight tolerance on a speaker?
I just realized I meant to, but forgot to ask you:I absolutely love this loudspeaker.
It is the biggest factor in my decision to buy the Arendal's 1961 Towers.
Thanks for the measurements and review.
You are comparing apples to oranges. Those Spinorama charts show the sums of FR measured at a 60 degree window (I think that’s the angle defined in the standard). Look at a directivity chart that shows a single measurement like on this speaker.Also we have seen brands maintain 1dB tolerances before, it's not that crazy. the Klippel NFS is a robot so such tolerances have been shown before.