I was always a fan of the Acculine speakers from The Audio Insider, and readers who purchased them upon my recommendation were absolutely delighted. Understandably, I was disappointed when they were discontinued but was told that something even better was in the works, called Arx. I was promised that Arx speakers would use even better technology and much better performance at the same price points. It’s been a bit of a wait but Arx will be available to purchase very soon.
Since mentioning that Arx is on the way I’ve received a lot of email from readers asking when they would be available and what the differences would be. I emailed Jon Lane of The Audio Insider and asked for an update, and he provided me with a beautifully written, detailed response along with these pre-production images. I asked his permission to edit and post it for Sound Advice readers, and he agreed. I had to edit out some confidential information about future plans for the line and I won’t comment on them, other than to say the future for Arx looks bright indeed!
My commentary, along with pricing and availability appears at the end of the post. Enjoy!
Arx A1 bookshelf speaker
Jon Lane of The Audio Insider writes:
“The Arx line includes technology and performance upgrades over the prior Acculine models, although in terms of style, price, category, and driver/model size, it’s as close to Acculine as we can make it. The biggest difference is the switch to the XBL2 woofer technology, which is partly where the “Arx” name comes from.
Arx planar tweeter
” The Arx planar tweeter is very similar to the Acculine tweeter and was developed for high output and best response. Both tweeters are the same approximate size and achieve similar acoustical parameters. The Arx planar tweeter mounting has been simplified by going to heavy solid powder-painted steel, which is stronger, stiffer, and acoustically more inert – the new tweeter’s simplified, ruggedized mounting places it closer to the speaker’s baffle. To visually emphasize Arx’s many performance gains, we sacrificed the Acculine tweeter’s plastic bezel and woofer’s bullet dust cap.
Arx A2 center channel on stand with grille
(The A2 also works as a main left/right speaker)
“We feel that Arx high frequencies have that unusual quality that when the note or transient stops, they “shut off” like a switch – there’s little of the overhanging hi-fi sheen and shimmer that so many domes have, especially at this low price point. Arx planar tweeters track the input better – it’s a somewhat unusual experience the first time you hear them. They’re clear, authentic, and focused; you may find that an Arx model out-images its predecessor too.
Arx woofer with “SplitGap” technology
“The Arx woofer is where the line really starts to diverge from Acculine..
* XBL2 “SplitGap” motor technology
* Very long stroke – linear excursion is nearly doubled
* Overall distortion reduced by a third
* Solid cast alloy frame replaces the lighter Acculine plastic frame
* Completely ventilated rear suspension and voice coil for much higher thermal power handling
* Vented pole piece
* Copper in the gap slashes motor distortion – driver’s entire spectrum is both “quieter” and “faster”-sounding
* Critically damped curvilinear paper cone
* Butyl rubber cone surround and flat-spider rear suspension
* Oversized motor
“The Arx SplitGap woofer is expensive – literally many times the standard types found all over the market – but we feel we needed to clearly differentiate the relaunch of these first three models.
Arx A2 with grille cover removed
Arx A2 rear panel with port
(I like the single binding posts and non-recessed panel)
“The third Arx upgrade is the crossover design and tuning. The Audio Insider designers have made all three models suitable for front main duty either out into the room or closer to surfaces. Arx models now ship with the ports blocked with removable foam plugs. As-shipped, each model can be used closer to boundaries, and when the plugs are removed, the Arx models develop rather impressive bass when the speakers are pulled out into the room for typical audiophile-style placement and listening.
Arx A2 drivers
“The new speakers are therefore dual-duty and more flexible and satisfying than before. With the plugs in place the speaker has the faster, tighter sound of an acoustic suspension speaker, although naturally maximum bass extension is limited. With the plugs removed the speaker assumes the high-output, low bass extension and power typical to a tuned bass reflex system.
“We think we’ve addressed all the things that make a good speaker into an engagingly musical device. Over the last 18 months we’ve put hundreds of hours into the design and tuning. While we can’t account for every taste, placement, or room, Arx is intended to hit the sweet spot for the typical listener and we hope that these new Arx models may just become three new reference points for authentic-sounding economy loudspeakers. There’s a great deal of technology in each model and we’ve really pushed ourselves hard on Arx’s introductory pricing.”
There you have it! It certainly sounds promising and I am looking forward to testing these speakers soon. If the Arx models perform that much better than the Acculines while selling for comparable prices, they will be one of the very best values in the audio world.
Oh, that’s right… how much will they cost and when will they be available? Scroll down past these final images to find out:
Arx A3 tower speaker
Arx A3 grille
Arx A3 base
Arx A3 woofers
Arx A3 terminals
Availability and pricing
Available second half of May 2010
Arx A1 bookshelf speakers: $249 per pair
Arx A2 Center Channel/Main Speaker: $189 each
Arx A3 Tower Speakers: $499 per pair
For now you must BYOS (Bring your own sub, no Arx subs have been announced yet.)
This makes building a high performance Arx system extremely affordable. Putting it all together:
5.1 channel Arx bookshelf system
Main speakers: Arx A1 $249
Surround speakers: Arx A1 $249
Center Channel: $189
5.1 channel Arx tower system
Main speakers: Arx A3 $499
Surround speakers: Arx A1 $249
Center Channel: $189
Total: $937 + subwoofer. Using one of the Daytons mentioned above yields a system price of $1050 to $1075.
All in all, amazing value if these speakers deliver as has been promised. Of course, $249 for killer bookshelf speakers or $499 for towers is excellent, but the prices make it easy to put together a wonderful system without spending all that much. The bookshelf system looks practically unbeatable in the sub-$1000 segment (well under $1,000 in this case.) and the tower system’s value is nothing to scoff at either. While we can discuss value all you want, what these speakers are really about is really great sound, period. That is what makes them great, being affordable just makes them that much greater. I look forward to hearing them soon and of course will report my findings on this site and in my newspaper column.
Questions? Email Don