The South of Norway take responsibility! Now that Patos is history, and only niche products are to be found among Norwegian speaker manufacturers, the stage is set for Arendal. And in that city the twin towers are still standing!
Jan Ove Lassesen in the Arendal based company L-Sound is prime mover for this commitment. A complete speaker series for hifi and home theater is presented already. In the 1723 series we find a floor-standing speaker, bookshelf speakers, center speaker, surround speaker and no less than 3 different subwoofers in the product portfolio. And more is coming! The idea was conceived in Norway, but is completed in China, and with this international concept we are assured of a highly impressive edifice with a close to unimaginable reasonable pricing. But why using model number 1723? This is the year Arendal received city status. 293 years later the city got its twin towers. They have already sold very well, so it may already begin to resemble a success story. Let me add that Arendal provides 10-year warranty.
The test speakers, Arendal Sound Tower 1723, are quite unique products. The build quality is brilliant. A slightly tilted, rigid, well-built enclosure. On the back we find great, solid quality terminals, and the cabinet is ever so elegant with its rounded corners. Below these terminals we find no less than three big ports which comes with foam plugs. We will describe this later in this review. The front of the speaker is even more interesting due to the speaker elements. And there's a pile of them. With such a collection of drivers might be challenging for someone who believes that simple is often the best. But rest assured, in 2017 we don’t judge in advance! As the pictures show, we are talking about four 8-inch drivers. 2 of them plays up to 120 Hz and the last two 8-inch drivers plays all the way up to 1500 Hz. A 28mm dome located in a waveguide continues via a steep, 4th-order filter. This solution is quite neat, in fact it operates much like a single point source where the 4th-order filter toward the top also ensures correct phase behavior. This plays a big role for sound precision, which also is completely audible. The drivers are manufactured for Arendal Sound, and powerful neodyne magnets provide steel control and precise details.
"This is brutal! Also a fairly bad recording quality, but again Arendal rescues this at the finish line. The drums sound great, dynamic and heavy. I like it!"
Nominal impedance is 4 ohms. Sensitivity is relatively high, it is stated 92 dB for 1 watt/1 meter. Arendal Tower 1723 has during the tests also proved to be an easy load for the amplifier and all amplifiers used in the test period powered these speakers with ease. Even a 15 Watt amplifier did not seem to struggle with the twin towers at the end of the speaker cables. While we're at it, we have used four amplifiers during listening at home, Dared Uranus (tube), Audio Note P2 SE Signature (tube), Spec RSA M3EX (Class D) and Doxa 61 Signature (Transistor). In addition to this, we have set up the speakers in Fidelity's main listening room hall, where we powered the speakers with APL, Audio Research and Conrad Johnson (tube). The nice thing is that absolutely all setups played very reasonable on absolutely all types of music and recordings. I can confirm that this is very good allrounder. Have I ever seen more well-built speakers at this price? Very doubtful. Based on build quality alone, Arendal Sound 1723 Tower has to be considered as a great deal. We yet have to determine whether this also reflects in the ability to reproduce music.
The basic features of the speakers are interesting in themselves. The speakers play with a certain relaxed elegance, and they virtually never sound too hard or rough. If we were to criticize them for anything, it is in this case an inclination towards misplaced kindness, although this is compensated by a close to absurd ability to play extremely loud without showing the slightest tendency to break up or compress. The midrange is open, lively and nimble, which provides an experience of reasonably quick response. Arendal Sound consider Tower 1723 to be a competitor to Klipsch RF7. I will elaborate on this in a later section and here I will only comment on the fact that this in any case is not the whole truth. Arendal Sound perform quite differently from the wild animals of the United States.
So how about the bass ports? Arendal has made it possible to tune the bass response of the speakers by using foam plugs; with all ports blocked, they go down to a moderate 55 Hz (-3 dB), with two ports open to 34 Hz, with all three open they go to 38 Hz. Now it has been found that this tuning is very interesting in regards to room resonance; in my listening room, they played certainly most harmonious and linear with all ports open, while in the big room, we found the best balance with one port blocked. In other words, full steam ahead for experimentation.
It is time for the music samples, and we let Leonard Cohen's last, dark disc kick off the ball. "You want it darker," is presented with a nice presence and balance. Cohen is self evident and somber foremost in the mix. A slightly thickened tone of voice stands as a marker of the balance of these speakers, a touch of focus in the lower midrange and upper bass. We continue with "Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis" with Rebekka Bakken, and our findings are confirmed. The sound of the clarinet initially suffer a little from the focus mentioned above, and feels somewhat closed. Her voice stands out with elegance, but slightly warm and full-bodied. The overall result is a bit more cozy than intense, really. "As times goes by" with Bryan Ferry underlines it all. The color here is quite clear, the focus is in the lower midrange, but we don’t really care much because it is so wonderfully comfortable. We do not lose presence and life. I find that it lacks a bit of playfulness from some competitors with better resolution and more expensive speaker drivers.
“Norway has now a speaker manufacturer who should be an international success. With 10-year warranty with the purchase, this is totally awesome, Arendal!”
If we take a few steps onto the heavier providers and enter a wispy recording of Deep Purple's album "Fireball", we put Arendal to the test. Despite the fact that this recording has clearly hard edges, this actually sounds good, due to these speakers' natural ability to sound delicious. The song "No, no, no," is seriously tough! With some surprise notes I see that it lacks a bit of precision in bass range, before we go even heavier to work. We let the album "Fused" with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Lommi and former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes on vocals unleash on Arendals elements with the song "Dopamine”.
This is brutal! Also a fairly bad recording quality, but again Arendal rescues this at the finish line. The drums sound great, dynamic and heavy. I like it! The same could easily be said of Nazareth's "Hair of the dog." There is little to add, it sounds heavy, fat and delicious. Heavy in a slightly different way is "Amused to death" with Roger Waters. The disk with its Q-sound phenomena is a very precise way of determining the speaker phase correctness. Arendal scores easily. Waters’ dog and all that just works! Not the best I've heard, but very, very good. It comes with very good control of this madness. And when the bomb falls on track 6, the house is almost torn to pieces. The mid bass focus gives a slightly different experience of the explosion, a cautious moderation can be detected, but it is so natural and relaxed that it is absolutely amazing, in all its vehemence.
We find completely different challenges in the classical works, where the evocative Requiem by Sigurd Islandsmoen (SACD from 2L) is first in line. This sounds absolutely fine, but lacks (obviously) some airiness compared to what we are spoiled from the (much) more expensive speakers we often listen to. Thus, this sounds a bit one-dimensional, really, but anyways good drama and reasonable harmony in the making. Choir recordings are a challenge, and we don’t quite find the tranquility and the close organic presence that the very best can point to. But we really don’t expect this at this price! It delivered completely within what one might expect, this is obviously not the first choice for timbral complex (classical) music, but the point is that they deliver a fully usable result also with classical works. Especially that they can deal with the works from the most violent composers out there, without kneeling in any way.
I can conclude on that Arendal Sound 1723 Tower shows all too clearly that it is easy to destroy your ears without destroying the speaker! By that I mean that they even with relatively moderate amplifier power can play insanely loud, it is almost hard to believe.
I mentioned the amplifier requirements earlier. I have let Audio Note P2 with its roughly 15 Watts per channel control Arendals 5 drivers in each speaker. The nice thing is that it's okay! Well, this amplifier has transformers of fantastic quality, and that really is a requirement, if you do not have more power to play with. Even when we play Nazareth's "Beggars Day" the amplifier shows that it certainly is up to the task. It ends with a rather kind and a little fat expression, but despite a somewhat limited control, this softness is actually quite flattering. The AN amplifier actually plays loud as well, without problems in any way. We provoke it further with Haddy N'Jie's delightful "Traveling Song" and the deepest frequencies confuses the AN amp a bit, but not too much. Some lack of control gives a slightly closed expression, but also a lot of charm, warmth and closeness. On the explosive song "Moten Swing" with Clark Terry and an ensemble of wind instruments some questions come to mind. Even a couple of tripod speakers I had at my disposal, could give the Arendal people a few anxious wrinkles in the forehead. Is there a little wildness and dynamic frivolity missing here? With this question unanswered, we put the 50-kilo speakers into the car and head to the big living room.
Here we meet APL, Audio Research SP20, Conrad Johnson tube mono blocks with 150 solid watts produced by KT88 tubes. Arendal 1723 Tower replaces the extremely elegant, five times more expensive, Swedish Respons speakers, and we do not expect that they compare to these. The room is large, but Arendal fills it with ease. As mentioned, it turned out that the best setup in this room was with one of the three bass ports blocked, it resulted in great bass and overall good sound balance.
Classical works, chorus, strings and piano tunes obviously sound more closed than the Respons speakers, as well as a somewhat simpler and harder sound image. Slightly more surprising was that we also got a smaller sound field than the Respons, although this aspect thus is one of Arendals’ own peculiar strengths. Well, Arendal retain their dignity even in this room, and give an overall impression characterized by very nice calmness and order. But there was this question of dynamics, that is, can they play brass music so good that you become completely intimidated? No! We continue to hear a fantastic bass control and complete track of what is going on, but it's actually surprisingly little snap in the wind section, no more than from Respons. And this isn’t really Respons’ greatest strength, either, after all they do not have horns.
The sound image formed is unambiguous and clear, at least. Everything is served neat and somewhat elegant, well-controlled and well organized, but it comes with simple little artificial timbres and limited detailing. We were left with a slightly confusing experience of very good sound, but lack of commitment, in a way. The strengths are also evident, the speakers are imperturbable, they handle anything you throw at them, because even though this obviously is not high end, they have the ability to behave completely controlled regardless of character style, recording and media. Very nice to deal with, you get no unpleasant surprises with Arendal Tower!
Then there was this Klipsch talk. Those of you who have read my articles over the years have probably also read my sometimes manic tributes of Klipsch' assorted models. Now I didn’t have RF7 available, but I know them very well (I have owned them), and I also had a couple of the top model in RP series, RP280F available. Ergo, we put the latter into the ring, and struck the bell. It was a dog fight! Undoubtedly Arendal stands as the best all-rounder, but also more sedate and restrained. It is still Klipsch who are the entertainers! We go a few brief examples:
Round 1 - Zigeunerwiesen (Sarasate): Arendal plays with more peace, albeit a certain artificiality in tones. More open in the midrange, without a doubt closer to the instrument than the Klipsch can provide. Although Arendal plays slightly lower than the Klipsch for same printed output, Tower sounds very compelling on this recording. Round to Arendal.
Round 2 - The talk of the town (Opus3 recording, Lars Erstrand): Arendal plays with clearly more elegance, where Klipsch play it all with a simpler, shorter and harder style. On the other hand Arendal is a bit weaker bass wise and has a somewhat less "electric presence" in this musical masterpiece. Round to Arendal.
Round 3 - I play bass (Diallo): This is massive! On the other hand, Arendal is beaten by the physically smaller Klipsch speakers at the extent downwards, where they also sound a bit more chaotic, too. Upwards, however, Arendal is clearly more open. Moreover, it is clearly less hardness, this is the perfectly matched from Arendal's side. Clear round to Arendal.
Round 4 - Huntingdonshire Humans (Rainbow) Delicious dramatically, with a great transparency upwards. But again a clear thickening down, which is not necessarily flattering. Interestingly enough Klipsch seems to be even a touch more open and fresh at the top. When all sums up I prefer Arendal; it is the midrange that gives Arendal round 4 as well. Round to Arendal.
Round 5 - Quartier Latin (Barb Jungr, Linn-recording): Ooo ... so soft and delicious. The resolution of the two competing models are about equal, but Arendal is somewhat prettier upwards but also a bit more retracted. Tie.
Round 6 - Sweet Wilderness (Medwyn Goodall): These extremely deep electronic bass tones sets each speaker on a serious test. Arendal does not go as deep as Klipsch, regardless of port configuration. It's the huge bass that makes this track. Round to Indanapolis (Klipsch).
Round 7 - Morten Swing (Clark Terry etc): The huge blowout and the need for a "slap in the face," is not Arendal’s best side. They don’t match Klipsch on speed and explosiveness. On the other hand Arendal sound more balanced and comfortable, certainly not to be despised, either. Narrow round to Indianapolis.
AND THEN THE KLIPSCH CAMP throw in the towel. Arendal Sound 1723 Tower is a better and more balanced speaker, but not on everything. Klipsch is still the entertainment machine, the one that surprises both good and bad, and has the most realistic dynamics.
Arendal has with the1723 created a glorious masterpiece, a very good all-rounder, which is easy to control, easy to operate, easy to live with. Yes, there are limitations in the resolution, timbres and dynamic fluctuation, but in the price range we operate, we can not actually demand more. An unrivaled feature is their ability to play extremely loud without so much as a single anomaly, while they can play ingratiating and elegant on a low level.
Norway has now a speaker manufacturer who should be an international success. With 10-year warranty with the purchase, this is totally awesome, Arendal!
|2 x 13.8"||2 x 13.8"|
|Enclosure||High Density Fiberboard (HDF)||
High Density Fiberboard (HDF)
|High Density Fiberboard (HDF)||High Density Fiberboard (HDF)|
|Amplifier||Avalanche 500DSP - 500W RMS||
Avalanche 500DSP - 500W RMS
Avalanche 1000DSP - 1000W RMS
Avalanche 1000DSP - 1000W RMS
Sealed / vented
|Sealed||Sealed / vented|
49.2H x 33.5W x 45D cm
|63.7H x 45W x 55D cm||54.2H x 42W x 50D cm||71.2H x 50W x 60.9D cm|
|Weight||24.5 kg||48.1 kg||41.4 kg||60.1 kg|