High End 2014: Avantgarde Acoustics and the Kingdom of Horns


By Dr. Panagiotis Karavitis

If I was to ask you for the first thing that comes to mind when I say “horn speaker”, what would you say? If you are an American that would probably be Klipsch, but if you come from the old continent that’s definitely Avantgarde Acoustics.

The German-made horns are among those speakers that play music long before you turn the power on and cue up the first record. The sheer visual impact of the show room with that bank of injection-molded spherical horns was quite something.

A couple of years back Avantgarde introduced a set of amplifiers (XA pre-power) and now it was time for the XA-integrated version, based on the same principle of “DC Flow current”. As these speakers are extremely efficient there is no need for big amps, a few quality watts will do. The integrated will output 20 watts into 8Ω in Class A, but can be switched to A/B for 60 watts per channel. Built quality is also excellent, with the entire amp mounted on a single piece of vibration-canceling metal core weighing 10kg.

During the show, the new amp was paired with a pair of Duo Grosso hybrid horn speakers. These consist of 2 horns, one for the highs and one for the mids. The two 12” active woofers are amplified by two 250 Watt modules with big 540 VA toroidal trafos and 120.000μF of capacitance reserves. Overall sound was not so good and to blame was probably the speaker set up. Distance between the Duos was around 5m (16ft) and this proved to be deleterious for imaging and soundstage depth.

For what it’s worth, the Fono Acoustica room sounded much better, showing the big Avantgarde Trio horns with extra basshorn and Vitus electronics.






About Panagiotis Karavitis 212 Articles
Doctor and Editor @ Part-Time Audiophile Publisher @ Audiohub.gr