Advance Paris XL-1000 Loudspeakers
Every once in a while new range or design of loudspeaker arrives on our shores, some become established favourites or even through time obtain cult or classic status. Old classics get revisited from time to time and turn out to be better than their originals thanks to better materials and electronic components used. Can this firm Advance Paris muscle their way in here? They also manufacture a range of very good looking amps which run in Class A mode with the highest specification of components. Can they also compete in the world of loudspeakers? All materials in these speakers are of top specification and state of the art construction. There is no set rule for obtaining such success, witness the different philosophies employed down the years each of which have their own disciples e.g. small “bookshelf” type speakers, large floor standing type speakers, electrostatic designs, omnidirectional, horn loading……have I left anything out?
Each group have their own (good) reasons for preferring their particular preference, it all depends on which aspect of sound reproduction is most important to them, the type of music they listen to, and not least, the acoustics in their listening room. Since most loudspeaker designs are of the cone/moving coil/box type let’s just consider these as main question here.
Which is best, a small box speaker (albeit on stands) or a large floor standing speaker?
Parallel question in cars, which is best, front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or four wheel drive?
The answer lies not in the principle but the design and application. In general a small speaker is good in mid and high frequencies but weak in the bass. A large speaker is gives very good bass but can overwhelm a small/ medium sized room making listening over long periods a bit underwhelming. However it is amazing what can be achieved with a small speaker on well designed and well chosen stands in getting satisfactory bass response for most people in most small and medium sized rooms
On the other hand, even in a large room with a large speaker where bass is demonstrated to best effect, bass can sound a bit woolly blurred and confused so careful design and attention to detail is the order of the day. This can often be traced to loudspeaker enclosure itself. What happens is that the bass frequencies excite the cabinet and this passes the vibrations into the structure of the room itself causing the unpleasant reverberation effect.
So, how does all this relate to the X- L1000? This is the Advance Paris top model and they come in at a serious £18,000. That is a very serious amount of money so I had high expections. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating and all that. The design here is to have the bass, mid and high frequency completely isolated from each other leaving little or no room for structural resonances to be set up in their respective enclosures preventing unwanted colourations getting out to couple with the floor, even if spiked, to give clear transparent bass coming only from the driver unit itself, with mid and high frequencies to match. Also the crossover frequency for the mid/high units is well chosen to be well clear of the frequencies to which the ear is most sensitive minimising any noticeable phase error or time alignment issues
A test I apply to assess cabinet derived colourations, or the lack of them, is to approach the speaker at normal listening levels and gently touch the sides and back of the enclosure with the back of my hand feel for any cabinet vibrations (colourations). I found none here. Top quality build quality here. The review pair were finished in piano lacquer black. Immaculate.
Extended listening has shown this speaker to be evenhanded throughout the frequency range and suitable to all genres of music. With a stated sensitivity of 96dB and a power handling range of 10 – 800 watts means it will be capable of coping with big muscular power amps and delicate valve set ups.
All this is important if a speaker is to have any right to call itself high end, but true greatness requires more than just this. Some speakers are particularly good in some aspects of performance and less good in others, this discrepancy will endear it to some listeners and be off putting to others. Just read some reviews by different writers of the same speaker. For example if one reviewer praises one aspect of a particular model e.g. high frequencies, another will dam it for bring too harsh or bright ( metal dome type tweeters come to mind here). The problem comes from the different “character” of one driver unit from the other(s). Just a matter of taste. This can have a very serious deleterious on what is to me one of the most important aspects of stereo hi-fi performance, namely imaging. When one gets a seriously believable image of musicians playing in your own living room between and around your speakers, and for good measure front to back depth as well, then you are listening to an item of real quality. You see for real quality each unit must integrate seamlessly without displaying any characteristic of its own, not bright or sharp, over or underdamped etc. Such characteristics can enhance or detract from one type of music or another but if you are looking for such a speaker then look elsewhere. The characteristic of each unit here is one of naturalism and neutrality giving a very honest believable rendition of everything from classical orchestral and chamber music to acoustic folk rock and blues to heavy rock. In other words they clearly distinguishes between audiophile quality and ordinary CDs and LPs. From the natural and wide dispersion of the ribbon tweeter to the bass and mid units of perfectly damped lightweight paper units we have a future modern classic in the making. What essentially I am saying here is this is a speaker which is not just beautifully made and finished but it has almost perfect integration of the drive units, the AMT ( Air Motion Transducer) ribbon tweeter has exceptional resolution, air and detail without the brightness associated with metal or diamond tweeters. The midrange and bass drivers are clean and really fast especially for such large drivers. these both use paper cones which in my opinion are one of the best materials available. people may assume paper cones are inexpensive, but this is certainly not the case and they are manufactured by hand rather than mass produced like many other cone materials. The cross over uses the highest quality materials and components and is surely another reason why this speaker has such good integration between the drive units.
Disadvantages? Whilst not fussy about placement per se, place with care! At over 80 Kg each place carefully, think of sprained back, hernia, pulled muscles etc. Price? Well, look at it this way, very competitive with anything else on a £ per kilogram basis!. Other that their size and weight I can’t really think of anything negative. Strangely they work in almost any decent sized room with no issue being close to or well away from rear and side walls. For a big speaker that is seriously impressive.
Other manufacturers have gone down this route, I’m thinking of Focal who are in my opinion worthy of consideration here but these X-L 1000s cost considerably less than the equivalent Focal Utopia model, so a firm recommendation is deserved here. In fact there are few speakers I have heard at any price which are significantly better. Thats high praise indeed.
I have to be really picky to find any faults, and as a quick summary, if you are getting in vinyl, or looking to rekindle that passion, look no further than the Juke Box E & Speaker Box 5, it is a fantastic product, and at its price, its frankly unbeatable!