16
Oct
10

The Avantgarde DUO G2

When you start to design something like a loudspeaker, you start from a blank sheet and you set out goals. When the final design is eventually signed off, there remain some compromises, goals unfulfilled. Some things just need time to solve, or wait for technology to catch up before the design can be completed to its original set of specifications. Such will always be the case for high-end audio; any product can be improved, given time.

The first generation of Avantgarde horn loudspeakers that appeared back in the early nineties was a revelation – before that, horn speakers were deemed ugly, huge and well, ugly. Avantgarde loudspeakers uses a huge horn for the midrange drive unit and somehow, partly due to the shape or quality of finishing, wasn’t ugly to look at. In fact many liked the way they look, blending a classical old world charm of the early gramophone’s horn with a modern twist to it. It may be bigger than the average loudspeaker but it stands as a piece de’art that blends beautifully with modern décor. And they sounded great!

Good as they may be in the nineties, the first decade of the century is almost over. Time for Generation Two. How can Avantgarde improve upon a well-respected design? In fact, we may ask, if there is any real need for change at all to a successful design?

This would be the case that there will always be room for improvement in any product. It would be naïve to believe if anything can be perfect, regardless of the price. Take CD for example, touted as ‘perfect sound forever’ back in ’82. We know more about squeezing the performance of CDs today than three decades ago. So when Avantgarde showcased their Generation Two last year, we had high expectations that Avantgarde will deliver a significantly better loudspeaker.

The first G2 model arrived in the form of the Uno G2, and has gone on to be our current best-selling loudspeaker! Recently the Duo G2 was shipped in as well. The G2 models were a massive makeover – the most obvious difference was the outer frame structure – I wouldn’t call the original Uno or Duo flimsy – but once I saw the new frame of the G2, I have no doubts that this alone makes for a massive improvement over the original. The new frame design uses an outrigger frame structure to increase its footprint, which in turn would improve on its stability. A stable loudspeaker will translate the cone movement more accurately with less distortion. This will improve on dynamic contrast, especially in resolving those subtle low-level nuances.

Improved Active Bass Module

Then it gets even better. They have improved the woofer system – though still a pair of 10 inch woofers driven by a 250 watt amplifier, Avantgarde have made improvements in the design – on the woofers, the amplifier and the crossover – the G2 series will deliver a more extended bass with even better control. The woofers now use the more powerful and compact neodymium magnets, which exert better control compared to ferrite magnets as used in the non G2 versions.

On the back of the woofer enclosure are the settings to blend the speaker system to your room.  There are user adjustments – levels, crossover point and also set frequent range depending on the midrange horn used, low for the trio, mid for Duo G2 and high for the Uno G2. The woofer module offers an XLR line level input, but it is meant for use only if the woofer is pressed into use as a stand alone subwoofer (for example – to operate below 80 Hz) and not as part of the Avantgarde speaker system.

In the G2, the tweeter enclosure is now integrated into the woofer box – this is now standard for both the Uno G2 and Duo G2. The tweeter enclosure is isolated from the woofer enclosure to reduce effects of vibration from the woofers. The tweeter is fed through a passive crossover while the loudspeaker level signal is converted to line level to feed the woofer amplifiers. The tweeter has been modified – its sensitivity is now slightly reduced to enable the G2 series to be used with amplifiers that has a lower signal to noise ratio. Some users of the earlier Avantgarde may experience some form of electronic noise when used with the high sensitivity tweeters like the one used in the earlier G1. The new tweeters eliminate this issue completely.

Improved Midrange Enclosure and mounting

The 7-inch midrange drive unit (5-inch for the smaller Uno G2) operates in the region between 170 Hz to 2 kHz. Housed in a separate grey painted metal cylinder enclosure, there is no crossover for the midrange driver, in fact it is driven full range. Avantgarde designs the drive unit to have a mechanical filter – high frequencies are gradually filtered off via the moving mass of the cone (mechanical impedance) while the low end extension will be limited by the natural impedance rise of the driver when the frequencies drops to around the fs – the natural ‘resonance’ frequency of the drive unit. The internal wiring is also upgraded to a silver plated copper cable. Another major improvement to the midrange enclosure is the end caps are now cast aluminum on the G2 instead of molded plastic of the G1. This enables the enclosure to withstand greater internal pressure caused by the back wave of the drive unit. The mounting structure of the midrange enclosure have also been improved – instead of hollow tubes, which can be resonant, the G2 uses solid metal rods. Essentially, the Uno and Duo G2 differ only in the midrange driver and horn. The horn for the Uno G2 is twenty inches versus the twenty-seven inch for the Duo G2. Avantgarde recommend room sizes of at least 170 sq feet and 200 sq feet for the Uno and Duo respectively.

So what does all this mean to you?

If you have the original Uno or Duo, the G2 versions will give a dramatic leap in performance in every respect. Don’t hesitate; trade in the older Uno or Duo right now while you can still get a good resale value from it. Avantgarde speakers hold its value very well, much better than many high-end brands of loudspeakers simply because of its uniqueness. Anyway, if you have bought a pair of Uno or Duo way back in the last century, you would have had a good 10 years or more with it and isn’t it about time to upgrade to a new Duo G2, especially if your room is big enough?

Here are more reasons why you should upgrade to the G2 versions:

1)      Improved active woofer system means the bass end is tighter and more extended, less likely to induce room resonance. Better bass performance clears up the lower midrange region increasing the system’s resolving power. You hear a more expressive and poetic performance from all the music you are familiar with. The faster and cleaner bass end improves its ability to generate depth and a greater sense of dimensionality, the speaker system becomes more transparent and imposes less character to the sound. In short, it sounds a lot better!

2)      The improved midrange mounting and enclosure improves the damping of the back emf of the drive unit. It eases the load on your amplifier, making the speaker easier to drive and more relaxed sounding. This gives the system a newfound dynamic capability in the all-important midband, where our ears are most sensitive.

3)      The new tweeters mean that the Avantgarde loudspeakers are better able to match with a greater variety of amplifiers – both solid state and tube – than ever before giving the user more choices and flexibility.

4)      The improved mounting structure of the Uno and Duo G2 speaker system alone would improve its dynamic contrasts – the noise floor improves, the system plays louder, cleaner and tonally more expressive.

The DUO G2 is now on demo in our main soundroom. So please don’t hesitate to drop by and give it a good listen! All are welcome!

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