Audiovector, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been producing high-end loudspeakers for over four decades. And, as you can imagine, a company that has been producing speakers since 1979 must have an impressive product selection. I chose one of their newest models to review, the R 6 Avantgarde.
Originally introduced on September 1, 2020, Audiovector’s R 6 loudspeakers comprise a unique balance of materials and technologies borrowed from the slightly smaller, more economical R 3 series and Audiovector’s larger, top-tier R 8 and R 11 series. Akin to the R 3, R 8, and R 11 series, the R 6 is available in three models: Signature ($19,000 per pair, all prices USD), Avantgarde ($24,000 per pair), and Arreté ($35,000 per pair). The Signature and Avantgarde are five-driver, 3.5-way designs, whereas the top-tier Arreté model is a 4.5-way design with a rear-firing 3″ midrange, complete with its own dedicated crossover. The Avantgarde and Arreté models are also equipped with an Air Motion Transformer (AMT), while the Signature makes do with a more economical dome tweeter. With a staggering 112 improvements over the outgoing SR 6 lineup, according to Audiovector, the new R 6 models aren’t simply a refresh—they’re basically all new speakers.
Architecture and design
My R 6 Avantgarde review samples arrived in wooden crates built from .25″-thick plywood that hinted at the quality of the product contained within. In fact, during discussions with Mads Klifoth, CEO of Audiovector and son of Ole Klifoth, who founded the company, a few things were immediately obvious. First, Klifoth is clearly very passionate about his products. His answers to my myriad questions weren’t simply recycled marketing responses; they echoed with enthusiasm and pride, and this made corresponding with Klifoth a true pleasure. This was particularly evident when discussing the R 6 series cabinet construction. Like the larger and more costly models in the R 8 and R 11 series, the cabinets of the R 6 series are made using 11 layers of hardwood HDF, which are coated with glue then fused together under vacuum pressure and heat to form the final structure. Panel thicknesses range from .6″ to 1.2″, and there are no parallel surfaces in the contoured shell. The shape, in tandem with the dense, strong, heavy laminated rear baffles, dramatically reduces resonances while minimizing standing waves. During assembly, the exterior shell is heavily braced internally and carefully damped. This internal bracing both supports the shell and forms the compartments for the drivers.
All R 6 cabinets sport newly designed front and rear baffles and plinths, which, to my surprise, are made from laminated HDF. The finish quality on my Avantgarde review samples was exemplary, and I wouldn’t have looked twice if I’d been told these parts were made of anodized aluminum. Standard finishes for the R 6 include White Piano, Black Piano, African Rosewood Piano, and Italian Walnut Matte. When I asked Klifoth about the custom color options available with the Avantgarde ($1750/pr. upcharge), he had this to say about the company’s finishes:
Our paintwork is done by the number one sports car specialist in Denmark. They work mostly on Porsches, but they also handle many other exotic brands and vintage cars. They are located about an hour south of our factory, and they will do almost any color on request. The lead time necessary for custom colors is approximately eight weeks.
The process of painting our loudspeakers is much more demanding than painting a car because the result must be perfect to look at, even close up. The R 6 has a total of seven layers of clear coat applied to it. First, two layers of clear coat are applied, followed by an intermediate machine sanding stage to smooth the larger surfaces and careful hand sanding around the edges to keep them sharp and even. Finally, the seventh layer is applied, and the surfaces are water sanded with fine-grain sandpaper (3000 grit). After that, they are polished until they’re perfect. It is indeed a long, precise process, but it’s worth it for an amazing result.
The woodworking on my African Rosewood Piano review samples was exquisite, and I particularly enjoyed the cross-grain inlay placed in rough proximity to where the R 6 models’ new Isobaric Compound Bass (ICB) system is located internally. Each ICB consists of a hand-built downward-firing 6.5″ internal woofer and an 8″ externally firing woofer positioned about 15 degrees off the ground plane. Audiovector states that the masses of the two bass drivers are coupled using the air trapped in their common internal enclosure. This approach is said to result in deep, precise, controlled bass. The system breathes through a single tuned bass-reflex port on the lower front of the speaker and crosses over to the midbass driver at 100Hz.
This 6.5″ midbass driver, a component shared with the R 3 range, is mounted on the R 6 models’ newly designed front baffle and breathes through the upper front-firing tuned bass-reflex port, covering a frequency band of just 250Hz, from 100Hz to 350Hz. The 6.5″ midrange driver, responsible for a much wider frequency range (350Hz to 3kHz), was designed with a phase plug that also aids in cooling the voice coil. Both the midbass and midrange drivers were built with something Audiovector calls Low Compression Concept, or LCC. According to Audiovector, this technology “allow[s] the membranes of the drivers to move freely under all kinds of demanding conditions while remaining faithful to whatever signal they are fed—no matter how loud and complicated.”
All four drivers have baskets strengthened using double-rib construction, which also maximizes airflow, and their cones are composed of a special mix of carbon and aramid fibers coated with a layer of artificial resin to form a strong, light-but-damped sandwich. The voice-coil former in each driver is made of titanium to avoid magnetic hysteresis, which, according to Audiovector, causes a slowing of the driver reaction/rebound time common in aluminum formers, and ceramic ferrite magnets positioned within a rigid turbulence-suppressing magnesium-alloy structure complete the motor assembly. Another technology at play is Audiovector’s No Energy Storage (NES) mounting system, in which the driver is mounted at three points, and each point is elevated and isolated to ensure the driver is separated from the enclosure’s mass. This mounting system is said to improve transient response and dynamics by reducing stress on the driver baskets.
Before any driver sees a cabinet, each is thoroughly tested and documented; Audiovector maintains a test file identified by serial number for every driver. All drivers in the R 6 lineup, with the exception of the AMT, are hand built by Scan-Speak in their nearby facility to Audiovector’s specifications. The AMT is built entirely in-house by Audiovector and features an ultra-strong neodymium magnet with a lightweight precision-coated Mylar membrane, which is mounted and decoupled from the cabinet using Audiovector’s NES mounting system. While I was poking around the back of one R 6 Avantgarde, I noticed that the AMT is open both front and rear. Klifoth noted that leaving the back of the AMT open enables it to move more freely, thereby reducing compression and distortion. It’s also the basis of Audiovector’s Soundstage Enhancement Concept (SEC) technology, which allows the speaker to radiate sound from 3kHz to 8kHz from the rear of the cabinet without compromising the integrity of the lower-midrange or high-treble frequencies.
The crossover is something that Audiovector believes is “the heart of the loudspeaker.” In all R 6 models, the crossover is mounted immediately behind the terminals to achieve the most direct connection possible and is damped to minimize vibration. The crossover is constructed using high-precision, high-quality cryogenically treated components connected to each driver in series to help minimize resistance loss. To maximize efficiency, Audiovector also employs something they call Dynamic Feed Forward (DFF) technology, which is designed to minimize resistance-related loss in the coils by as much as 50%. By lowering the resistance, heat buildup is reduced, which they claim maximizes transient performance.
The R 6 Avantgarde measures 48.5″H × 11″W × 17″D and weighs approximately 88 pounds. It has a rated frequency response of 26Hz to 52kHz (no window given), an impedance of 4 ohms, and a rated sensitivity of 91.5dB/W/m. Klifoth noted that, while the maximum recommended power input is 450W, the impedance curve in the R 6 Avantgarde varies only slightly, with low points occurring from roughly 180Hz to 300Hz, so this speaker doesn’t need a powerful amplifier. I was told 20 quality watts will do just fine.
Typically, setting up a pair of speakers in my room takes about an hour. I start by replacing my reference Paradigm Persona 7F speakers with whatever speakers I am reviewing, positioning them 2′ from the side walls, 8′ apart, and a good 6′ from the front wall. I then listen to review samples on axis, and incrementally toe them out until I find a sweet spot. My Paradigms like enough toe-in so that their tweeter axes cross about 2′ behind my head. The Audiovector R 6 Avantgardes sounded OK but not great in this orientation, so I started reducing the toe about a half inch at a time until I eventually ended up with only about 5 degrees of toe-in. In this configuration, imaging was outstanding, as was depth of field. The bass was a bit muddled, however, so I started moving them closer together and a bit closer to the front wall. Distance behind the speakers made no audible difference, so I eliminated this variable and eventually landed on positioning the R 6 Avantgardes 7.5′ apart with absolutely no toe-in and 9′ from my listening position.
Between and behind the R 6 Avantgardes resided my usual band of components: an EMM Labs MA3 DAC (previously reviewed), an Audio Research Reference 6SE preamplifier, a pair of Classé Audio Delta Mono monoblock amplifiers, and a Pro-Ject Audio Systems RPM 10 Carbon turntable hosting a Sumiko Starling cartridge feeding a Musical Fidelity M6x Vinyl phono stage. Kimber Kable Select cables tied everything together. A dedicated 20A outlet supplied power to a Torus AVR 20 power conditioner, which was in turn connected to each component using Clarus Crimson power cords. Finally, music was streamed to the MA3 from an Intel NUC computer running Windows 10 and Roon, using an Analysis Plus digital link.
I kicked off my listening sessions with Kacey Musgraves’s newest album, Star-Crossed (24-bit/48kHz FLAC, Interscope/Tidal). As I listened to the opening seconds of the title track, a group of harmonized vocals filled my room. The R 6 AGs drew Tod Lombardo’s Spanish guitar with convincing bite, focus, and obvious warmth, and when Ian Fitchuk’s bass entered the fold, the grandeur of it was impressive. I wasn’t expecting bass of this fortitude or scale from such a slim design, but the 8″ and 6.5″ driver combos really delivered, communicating notes convincingly. Musgraves was placed slightly forward of everything else on stage, in much the same way I recall her being projected throughout her previous album, Golden Hour. I also appreciated the level of punch the synth drum beats were communicated with, both here and throughout the album, particularly on “Good Wife.”
While I was listening to “Love Letters,” from Diana Krall’s The Look of Love (24/96 FLAC, Verve/Tidal), the R 6 AGs reproduced Krall’s piano notes with a wonderful sense of liquidity; notes floated in space all around my room against Krall’s vocals, which were pleasantly chiseled and positioned dead center. Like the Monitor Audio Platinum II PL300 II loudspeakers I reviewed back in April of 2017, the AMT tweeters used in the R 6 AGs conveyed warmth and liquidity in lieu of hyper-detailed performance. As a result, I wasn’t hearing the micro-level details I’ve heard before in Krall’s voice. The subtle sounds of her taking a breath or the saliva in her mouth when she sings particularly close to the microphone weren’t just softer, they were simply missing. I also yearned for just a bit more decay from Krall’s otherwise perfectly rendered piano notes. The string plucks emanating from Christian McBride’s bass were correct in their weight and tone, but his bass was not quite as well delineated as I would have liked, sounding thick and heavy, and lacking some of the textural detail I’ve come to love from my Persona 7Fs. Moreover, I found that the amplitude of bass notes was just a hint more obvious than I’m used to hearing, leading to a bottom-up tonal balance: the bass was accentuated more than the upper frequencies.
When I listened to Tom Petty’s “A Face in the Crowd,” from Full Moon Fever (16/44.1 FLAC, MCA, and LP, 255 929-1), the strums of Britt Daniel’s acoustic guitar were projected far outside the R 6 AGs, with a nice golden hue to the notes. Petty was placed center stage and was expertly layered over Jeff Lynne’s bass and Jim Keltner’s punchy kick drum. Percussion instruments were credibly drawn on stage among multiple guitars, and the R 6 AGs not only projected a wide, open, encompassing musical picture, they drew each instrument well beyond the confines of the speakers with believable space between them. When I listened to this track on vinyl, things got even better. The soundstage was a bit wider, but what impressed me even more was its increased depth. The various guitars at play across the stage no longer sounded as if they were standing in a line equidistant from my listening position—their depth now varied according to player. I also heard more space between Keltner’s drums and Petty’s guitar. While I enjoyed the depth and punch of Keltner’s kicks to the skins using the MA3 as a source, switching to the LP and my Pro-Ject RPM 10 turntable produced subtler yet better articulated bass notes. This not only added to the realism of the presentation, but also eliminated a wisp of richness and in doing so, seemingly allowed a hint more sparkle to shine through during taps of the brass and greater impact on the wood block strikes. The fact that the R 6 AGs differentiated this so easily was impressive.
I tried this experiment again, comparing Dire Straits’ debut album, Dire Straits, on LP (Vertigo 9102 021) and digital (16/44.1 FLAC, Vertigo). While I was listening to the digital version of “Water of Love” through the MA3, the R 6 AGs crisply illustrated the water drops opening the track, and Pick Withers’s taps on the brass were fast, while transients were crisp and communicated with good texture. Knopfler was positioned low center stage as if to indicate he was sitting while singing into the microphone, but his guitar was relegated to the left speaker only. While I enjoyed the bite of Knopfler’s guitar being plucked, his voice still sounded a hint cupped or hollow. John Illsley’s bass was positioned up front and center, sounding dense and weighty, but it was a bit prominent, at times lending, again, to a bottom-up tonal character that while fun and inviting, ultimately lacked a degree of balance. When I moved over to vinyl, Illsley’s bass was more subdued, bringing it right to where it needed to be in terms of balance, weight, and impact, and I could hear a bit more texture in each note leading to a more realistic representation. Knopfler was pushed back on stage and elevated maybe a foot—this time it sounded more like he was standing as opposed to sitting—and the plucks of his guitar jumped out of the left speaker with greater vitality and dynamism.
With a retail price of $24,000/pair, Audiovector’s R 6 Avantgarde faces some stiff competition. My Paradigm Persona 7Fs, at a base price of $25,000/pair (though I opted for a custom finish that pushed the price just north of $30,000/pair), are a perfect example. I’ll let you compare the technical differences between the two speakers by referring you to my review of the 7F.
The R 6 Avantgardes had an open, smooth, rich, almost indulgent character in my room. While this made the R 6 AGs fun and easy to listen to, it detracted somewhat from their ability to communicate music neutrally, and thus realistically. I also found that the R 6 AGs’ midrange lacked a bit of body and tonal vibrancy in comparison to the Persona 7Fs, and I’d be curious to discover if moving up to the Arreté might help to mitigate this.
The R 6 AGs’ most appealing attribute was their uncanny proficiency with imaging. The R 6 AGs constantly delivered crisper images within a slightly deeper, better-defined soundstage than the 7Fs. Image specificity aside, the 7Fs were better balanced tonally, in addition to being more vibrant, airy, and ultimately more real sounding. On the other hand, if I got a little too spirited with the wick, the Persona 7Fs could sound a little aggressive, particularly while playing poorly recorded material. I didn’t experience any aggressive tendencies with the R 6 AGs regardless of how hard I pushed them; they consistently sounded smooth as silk, dynamic, and punchy, and they really came alive when I was playing vinyl. Focusing strictly on bass reproduction, I was impressed at what the R 6 Avantgardes were capable of; rarely have I heard smaller speakers give the Persona 7Fs a run for their money in this respect. But despite the R 6 AGs’ ability to play clean, deep, loud bass, the 7Fs still sounded cleaner and faster, and played deeper than the R 6 Avantgardes while also being better able to enunciate the tonal characteristics of bass instruments.
Audiovector’s R 6 Avantgarde is a gorgeously finished, methodically assembled loudspeaker, chock-full of innovative technologies. More importantly, a pair of them can effortlessly fill a room with sound and create images that are much larger in scale than their sleek, sexy profiles would suggest. The R 6 Avantgardes’ warmth throughout the midrange and sweet top end eschewed any possibility of listener fatigue while providing layer upon layer of meticulously imaged music, supported by a commanding bottom end. While I wouldn’t characterize the R 6 Avantgarde as a particularly neutral or revealing loudspeaker, I would say it is one of the more inviting sounding speaker models I’ve spent time with.
If you are on the hunt for a near-full-range loudspeaker that will add to your décor, occupy very little real estate, and sound as pleasing as it looks, be sure to add Audiovector’s R 6 Avantgarde to your audition list.
. . . Aron Garrecht
- Speakers: Paradigm Persona 7F.
- Subwoofers: JL Audio Fathom f112 (2).
- Amplifiers: Classé Audio Delta Mono monoblocks (2), Parasound Halo A 51 (multichannel).
- Preamplifiers: Anthem AVM 60, Audio Research Reference 6SE, Musical Fidelity M6x Vinyl phono stage.
- Digital-to-analog converters: PS Audio DirectStream with Bridge II network sound card, EMM Labs MA3.
- Sources: Oppo Digital BDP-103 universal BD player; Intel NUC computer running Windows 10, Roon; Pro-Ject RPM 10 Carbon turntable with Sumiko Starling cartridge.
- Interconnects: Analysis Plus (digital), Kimber Kable Select KS-1116 (analog).
- Speaker cables: Kimber Kable KS-6063.
- Power cords: Clarus Crimson Z.
- Power conditioner: Torus AVR 20.
Audiovector R 6 Avantgarde Loudspeakers
Price: $24,000 per pair.
Warranty: Five years, parts and labor.
Phone: +45 3539 6060