Arx Speakers First Impressions


 Arx A3 towers before unboxing. Miniature dachshund provided for scale.

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Yesterday Fedex Ground stopped by and dropped off some double-boxed happiness: a pair of brand new Arx A3 tower speakers.  I’ve been anxious to see and hear these since The Audio Insider announced they were dropping Acculine and developing something new based on the Acculine concept.  Acculine has been off the market for over a year now and since The Speaker Company folded their tent in late 2009 the need for high quality and very affordable speakers had never been greater.

You can learn more about Acculine at the linked text above but if you want the Reader’s Digest version, Acculine speakers were offered by The Audio Insider and sold directly to consumers.  They used exotic technology leaf tweeters that are usually found in multi-thousand dollar speakers, combining them with good quality conventional woofers.  The drivers were placed in plain looking black cabinets to make an Acculine speaker, selling for as little as $250 per pair for the bookshelf models.  If a car analogy works for you, think of getting BMW performance and technology wrapped in generic sedan bodywork.

With Acculine you could build an incredible-sounding five-channel speaker system with tower main speakers for under $1,000.  Add a sub and you have great sound for most any room.  Go with four Acculine bookshelf speakers and an Acculine center channel and you are under $700 before you add a sub.  That’s amazing.

Acculine was incredibly successful and easily one of the best-received recommendations I have ever made.  Many people want great sound but are unwilling to spend many thousands on speakers, and others may have wanted to save a bit on speakers to spend more on a televsion.  I don’t want that  to seem like I am damning with faint praise when I say that as the Acculines sounded amazing by any measure and were fully up to audiophile standards.  I loved recommending them because they gave readers a taste of what high-end audio is about at prices comparable to big-box store speakers that are much inferior.  Even if you had more money to spend it was often hard to recommend going above Acculine because of diminishing returns for the dollar.  You could also spend more and get inferior sound!  That is how good they were.

Arx has been promised to be a noticeable improvement over Acculine, while holding the line on price: just $499 per pair for Arx A3 towers, $249 per pair for Arx A1 bookshelf speakers, and $189 for the Arx A2 center channel.  (The A2 can also be used as a main speaker.)  I didn’t think Acculine could be outdone at the same price points so I was very anxious to get these hooked up and my listening tests started.

The boxes have multicolored printing highlighting the attractive Arx logo and the finish of the speakers seemed a notch or two better than the Acculines. The Acculine boxes were plain cardboard and it is surprising how simple something such as a logo design on the box can make an impression.  My guess is The Audio Insider plans on making a big splash with these and is going the extra mile.


Assembled Arx A3 prior to room placement

Assembly was largely uneventful and I will post pictures and comments when I write a full review.  I’ve been listening to the Arx A3 for the past 24 hours using a Rotel receiver and my Neuhaus Laboratories T-2 amplifier , using vinyl records, CDs and iTunes music as my sources.  A full review will have to wait until they are completely broken in but for now I would like to report that the Arx speakers are noticeably better than the Acculines and the difference was apparent pretty much from the moment I hooked them up.  The bass and lower midrange were a little rough at first but the high end and upper midrange… WOW.  I was told the tweeter was improved but not as much as the woofers, and if that is the case I can’t wait until the woofers are fully broken in.  The sound was detailed, rich and sweet in a way that just makes you want to stand up and cheer.  Stereo imaging is excellent and the speakers have a big sound that really creates presence and impact.  The bass and lower midrange smoothed out rather quickly but I can tell the sonic character is still changing.  The Arx A3s use woofer technology that is as exotic as the tweeters and I was told to expect a longer than usual break-in period before they sound their best.  Even at 24 hours in, they are definitely keepers and I am looking forward to complete break-in and a full review.

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