To Philip Beaudette,
I just finished reading your excellent review of the Amphion Argon3 bookshelf speakers. These are on my short list along with the new ProAc Studio 115s. There are no Amphion dealers in my area yet, but the distributor would be willing to sell me a pair directly. What this means is that I wouldn't be able to audition them before buying.
I know you loved these speakers, but my main question is: Based on your experience, do you think they would be a good all-around speaker for both music and movies/TV? I've had limited success with rear-ported speakers in my room in the past as, due to lack of space, I need to place them close to the front wall. This, as you know, has a tendency to overemphasize the bass and make the sound unsuitable, especially for dialogue (movies and TV). The ProAcs are front ported, which can also have an inherent downside, but I somehow feel that, in my situation, the pros would probably outweigh the cons in helping tame my difficult room.
I don't know if it's their “cool design” look or your convincing review, but those Argon3s are really talking to me. Basically what I'm hoping to hear is that the Argon3 is an incredibly musical and articulate speaker with great bass that is really forgiving of room placement. Right now I'm looking to replace an old pair of front-ported PSB B25s. They're fairly inexpensive speakers that have their faults, but they have worked better (in my room) than a number of more expensive candidates.
Do you think the Argon3s could be the ticket? Or am I better off looking towards the ProAcs? It's reason vs. passion.
First off, I don't advocate buying a product you can't audition. Obviously there's a chance that your gamble will pay off, but my concern of course is that you might regret the decision. I suppose in a worst-case scenario you can just turn around and sell the Amphions if you don’t like them, but you'll probably lose some money and at the end of the day and you'll still need to find some speakers. I just need to make this disclaimer so you know where I stand.
Now to address this question: Do I think the Argon3 is a good speaker for both music and movies? No, I think they are outstanding speakers for music and movies. I don't watch very many movies, but I've yet to find a speaker that performed well on music that didn't also meet my needs for movies. The Argon3s are my favorite speaker right now, so I have no reservations recommending them for all of your listening needs.
My concern (and yours as well) is the space limitations you have. The Argon3s produce wonderfully full, enveloping bass, and there is definitely a chance it will be too much for your room. However, I don't think their low-end abundance will cloud things too much higher up the frequency spectrum. Although the Argon3s are weighty down low, they sound so clean in the bass, mids, and highs that I actually think the extra bass output might not be a problem. Plus, they do come equipped with optional port plugs, which do a nice job attenuating some of the energy in the bass. If you’re putting them close to a wall, which will accentuate bass, you'll definitely want to experiment with these.
It’s also worth mentioning that Amphion employs what they call Uniformly Directive Diffusion (UDD) technology in their designs to allow them to work well in a variety of rooms. UDD is basically about making the off-axis frequency response resemble the on-axis response so you get even sound throughout the room. PSB designs their speakers using the same sort of concept, so the fact that the B25s work well in your room increases the chances for the Argon3s also working well.
Unfortunately, I don't have any experience with the ProAcs you mention, so I don't know how they would size up against the Amphions.
You summed up your dilemma very well: it’s reason vs. passion. I don't want to tell you what to buy, but I can say that there are other speakers I would consider a far riskier investment than buying the Amphion Argon3s -- I really love these speakers. . . . Philip Beaudette