A sign of just how odd the audio world can be, I feel the Audiovector R6 Arreté’s biggest problem is it’s too damn cheap! And yet, this is a loudspeaker – from a company known for making good value loudspeakers – that costs as much as a reasonably decent car (although not in its native Denmark, where prohibitive duty imposed on cars mean that sentence reads ‘a reasonably decent gearbox’ in Danish). You’ve been drinking the high-end Kool Aid again, Alan!
Here’s the thing, though. This loudspeaker – the cheapest of Audiovector’s Big Three (the R6, R8, and R11) – might stay just to the right side of £25,000 and that puts it in the ‘sharp intake of breath’ range for many of Audiovector’s client base, but in high-end audio terms, that’s possibly less money than a well-heeled enthusiast might spend on speaker cables. While its performance and build quality more than justify its price tag, for those in the upper echelons of audio will just skip over it because it isn’t £80,000. In that way, I hope the R6 Arreté won’t slip through the cracks, because in many ways it deserves to be taken very seriously indeed, both as an aspirational goal for those already on the Audiovector ladder, and those with lofty bank-balances should be putting this on their check-list because it’s just a damn good loudspeaker.
That ‘damn good loudspeaker’ is the top model in the upgradable good-better-best R6 line, with the Signature and Avantgarde models all using the same cabinet and 165mm bass drivers, used both in front-firing and as an isobarically-loaded down-firing compound bass section. The Avantgarde replaces the soft dome tweeter with an AMT unit (also shared in the Arreté), while this top model brings a rear-firing midrange unit (for extra soundstage performance), as well as the Freedom Grounding system, an internal shock absorption system, improved spikes, improved damping, and even a carbon rear panel. The differences effectively mean the R6 moves from a three-and-a-half way loudspeaker to a four-and-a-half way with the addition of that 100mm rear-firing paper cone midrange unit. The base model costs a shade over £13,000, the Avantgarde just under £18,000 and the Arreté comes to £24,999, but there is an upgrade path.
We’ve covered a lot of these technologies in previous reviews; in particular much of the technology found in the R6 Arreté has filtered down through the range from the R8 Arreté review from Issue 165 and the R1 Arreté in issue 176. But of those technologies, the Freedom Grounding system is worth a revisit. This is a full grounding system that runs a cable from the rear panel of the loudspeaker to a nearby earthed power socket (the cable is fully isolated so there is no risk of electric shock), and this helps lower noise in the signal received from the amplifier. This has the effect of making the loudspeaker seem more of a point source and seemingly lowers the already low cabinet distortion. This has been used successfully in every recent model to carry the ‘Arreté’ suffix and – although the cable system itself is an optional extra – the ‘word on the street’ is that practically everyone who opted for the Arreté option on their Audiovector R-Series loudspeaker has gone for the Freedom Grounding cables... even those with the R1 Arreté two-way stand-mount (and one of my personal benchmark loudspeakers).