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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 1
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audes

Studio loudspeakers

as reviewed by Steve Lefkowicz, Jim Grudzien, and Victor Chavira

 

 

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STEVE LEFKOWICZ'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Sound Dynamics 300ti and Linn Kans (original version).

ELECTRONICS
PS Audio 4H preamplifier and B&K ST-140 (105-watt version) amplifier.

SOURCE
Linn LP12, Ittok tonearm and Talisman S moving-coil cartridge. AMC CD8 CD player.

CABLES
All interconnects and speaker cables are Nordost Solar Winds.

ACCESSORIES
Sound Organization stands and shelves. Monster Power HTS2000 power line conditioner.

 

one.jpg (6551 bytes)Just what the audio world needs, another under-$1000, two-way, stand-mounted monitor. Wake me up when this is over. There must be hundreds of similar speakers to choose from, without even counting all the mid-fi crap available at the electronics superstores. Why would anyone want to try to hit the market with another? Well, a funny thing has happened since the fall of the Soviet Union. Without getting all political (this is an audio publication, after all), several companies in the newly (economically and politically) liberated former Soviet states quickly learned a few things about free market capitalism. Build a good product at a fair price, and if you market it correctly, you’ll make some money, maybe even earn a living. Audes of Estonia is such a company. They have been in the U.S.market for a few years, developing a reputation for building pretty nice speakers at competitive prices. The Audes Studio Monitors retail for $995, probably the toughest loudspeaker market segment in audio.

I mostly used the 15-watt Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S (KT-88) to drive the Audes. With speakers of 87dB sensitivity, a low-powered tube amp was perhaps not the best choice, but it suited my listening habits pretty nicely, and I much preferred the sound of vocals with this amp than with my more powerful solid state B&K ST-140. I did switch back and forth between the two amps many times. Sticking to simpler, less densely packed music, like folk, jazz, small classical ensembles, and the like, the Audes Studios had an exceptionally satisfying sound. Although they produce respectable bass for their size and price, they do so only when not taxed by having a lot of other things going on in the music. The bass line in Patricia Barber’s Companion CD was nicely done, the bass line in the B-52’s first LP wasn’t. What’s the difference? There’s more going on in the B-52’s music, and the Audes don’t seem to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Another example of this is Rickie Lee Jones’ first LP. In "Chuck E.’s In Love," the individual instruments are nicely portrayed, and Jones’ voice is clear, open, and subtly dynamic, but when you flip the LP over and listen to "Danny’s All Star Joint," things aren’t quite so nice. The bass line becomes ill defined, and loses both power and dynamics. Jones’ voice sounds weak and congested, and the instruments blur together. This isn’t a power thing, because it also happens with the B&K.

And so it goes. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Kuijken, Harmonia Mundi 1999603) was crisp and clear, tonally accurate, and wonderfully transparent. So were Anner Bylsma’s Bach Solo Cello Suites (Pro Arte 3PAL-3001), and William Christie’s Pieces de Clavecin (Harmonia Mundi France HM B 1026). Many other recordings of solo instruments and small ensembles sounded exceptional, but moving to rock or large-scale classical music wasn’t quite so successful. The Audes made almost all the rock I played sound thin and confused. Bass seemed to just fade away, dynamics got compressed, and pace either slowed down or got confused. These are not speakers you tap your foot to, as the Linn crowd would say. Music that thrives on dynamics and PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing) is not served well by the Studios. Ricky Martin’s Sound Loaded should make you get up and dance. It’s all about energy, excitement, passion, and sexiness. The Audes Studios didn’t portray that. The more my wife gets me into Latin Music, the more I realize that full-range, dynamic sound is more than just a sound effect. If the music is intended to have a big sound, the inability of a system to reproduce it simply sucks the music’s life right out.

If that sounds harsh, let me point out that not everyone listens to music like this. If you go to a typical audiophile’s home (or worse, a typical audiophile society meeting) and mention Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, or any other famous Latin Music performer, you’re likely to get dismissed as not being “serious.” In my opinion, a good system has to play whatever I want to listen to, whether it’s Bach or the B-52s, Mozart or Martin, Respighi or The Residents. I have no room for either people or equipment that editorializes about my musical choices!

If small-scale classical, jazz, or folk music is your bag, then by all means audition the Audes Studios. They will give you a delightful time. But if you tend to listen to full orchestral, rock, or any other form of music that tends towards the dynamic and complex, you’ll be better served elsewhere. Steve Lefkowicz

 

 

 

JIM GRUDZIEN'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Definitive Technology Pro Monitor 100.

ELECTRONICS
Denon AVR-3801 receiver.

SOURCE
Arcam DiVA CD72T CD player and a Pioneer DV-414 DVD player.

CABLES
XLO/PRO 100 interconnects and Ultralink Audiophile Reference Series speaker cables.

 

two.jpg (6646 bytes)When I first heard the Audes Studio Monitors at CES, I wasn’t impressed. Perhaps it was the electronics, the acoustics, or something else, but they were harsh at the top. Nevertheless, something told me to listen again. The next day, they sounded much smoother and more robust. These speakers have a 6 1/2" woofer and a 1" soft-dome tweeter (SEAS), and are front-ported, which allows them to be placed close to the back wall without overloading the room with bass. Their frequency range is 49-20k Hz, and they are rated at 8 ohms and 87dB sensitivity. They are bi-wireable, have a rather flimsy plastic front grill, and weigh a hefty 31lbs. apiece. They look a little different. Each has two slabs of solid oak, one on each side of the cabinet, which extend below and behind the main housing. They look nice. The stands are also oak, and are very attractive.

When I first hooked them up they sounded very veiled and unclear, but this went away within 24 hours. One of my favorite review discs is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s This Beautiful Life. The instruments (cymbals, bass, and piano), while realistic, were somewhat lightweight, and lacked the depth and fullness that I’ve heard with other speakers. The vocals were a little harsh and edgy at the top, but the mids were very pleasing, and seemed accurate. The horns that I love so much from this group were right on, possessing that great brass bite. Israel Kawakawiwo’ole’s Facing Future CD provided an altogether different listening experience. His delicate, sweet voice was somewhat distant, and lacking in detail and clarity. The same went for his ukulele playing, which lacked the warmth and smoothness that I know this disc can reproduce in my system. Mary Black’s No Frontiers, on the other hand, was extremely engaging. It seemed as though she was right there with me in the room. Her music and voice are light and delicate, and were complemented very well by the Audes. Her voice got a little harsh at the top on a couple of crescendos, but was mostly easy to listen to. The acoustic guitar on the track "Fog in Monterey" was so real that I could have listened to it all day. James Taylor’s Hourglass CD is well recorded, and a good piece to judge the reproduction of male voice. On the track "Little More Time With You," my three-year-old began to clap and dance to the music. Also noticeable was the rich, deep bass (which seemed much deeper than 49Hz), and smooth, well-balanced vocals.

Music that is light in weight is ideal with these speakers, but when full orchestration or deep bass is predominant, they lack the punch and depth that I love. However, that costs much more money. They do, however, sound much deeper than 49Hz much of the time. Their soundstage is good-sized, and they image nicely. I found them to be involving and easy to listen to, though they lack some of the clarity and detail I’ve heard with other speakers, such as the Ruark Prologue IIs ($2000) or the ATC 7s ($1100). I prefer a more full range speaker, but if you’re in the market for a mini-monitor for under a grand, these are worth a listen. Jim Grudzien

 

 

 

VICTOR CHAVIRA'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Magneplanar 1.6 and B&W DM 302.

ELECTRONICS
Kora Explorer integrated. SCE Harmonic Recovery System.

SOURCE
NAD T541 CD/DVD player.

CABLES
Nordost Quattro-Fil interconnects, Blue Heaven speaker cables, and El Dorado power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Cables HTS 1000 AC center. Vibrapods, Lovan Trisolator, and Echo Busters.

 

three.jpg (8484 bytes)You should know up front that I’m not a fan of mini-monitors, though the Audes Studios aren’t exactly minis. Each speaker is about the size of a microwave oven, and just as heavy (31 lbs). The Studios are part of the Audes Credo line.

For the purpose of this review, the Studios were compared to the Magnepan 1.6s in my main system. The Studios were broken in from previous use. I moved the speakers into various positions until I located the best balance of bass and midrange clarity. The first thing that struck me about them was their generous bass. My CD by Buena Vista Social Club bassist Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez sounded fully developed, in contrast to the truncated bass response of many speakers in this class. The Studios lacked only a small measure of definition and scale when compared to the larger and more expensive Magnepans. As is characteristic of stand-mounted box speakers, the Audes rendered well-focused images, but, unlike many similar speakers, they created a soundspace of considerable dimension, and did not minimize musical events. Eddie Palmieri’s new CD La Perfecta II, on Concord, is a grand musical event. Palmieri’s percussive piano mated perfectly with the Audes’ punchy sound. Soft dome tweeters are generally more pleasing to me than their metal dome counterparts. The one-inch unit in the Studio does an admirable job in the sensitive upper regions. Cymbals and cowbells shimmered with overtones. I could easily distinguish between the wooden guiros commonly used in Latin Jazz versus the metal guiros typical of salsa and merengue.

I found the Audes Studios to be enjoyable speakers of considerable value. They produce surprising amounts of bass and punchy, room-filling sound. For $995 with stands, they represent an honest entry into the pricey world of hi fi. With some patience and five hundred more dollars, though, the level of refinement available grows exponentially. Ultimately, the Studios trailed far behind the Magnepan 1.6s. Even without taking into account the large panels’ bipolar wave launch, the Maggies’ execution of fine details and instrumental timbre is unparalleled at its price. If I wanted to appreciate the artistry of Jim Hall and Pat Methneeliminatey playing acoustic guitars, out went the Audes and in went the Maggies. If I needed to quickly form an impression of a new component, the 1.6s were called up for duty. At $995, however, the Audes Studios are definite contenders. Victor Chavira

 

 

 

Audes Studio loudspeakers
Retail $995 pair

Audes LLC
TEL: +372 33 95651
web address: www.audes.ee
e-mail: audes@estpak.ee

US Distributor:
AUDES USA INC.
TEL : 732.921.1241
web address: www.audesusa.com
e-mail address: info@audesusa.com

 

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