What I really like about the Audiovector range in its entirety (or at least, the parts of the Audiovector range I have tangled with) is their consistency. The sound you get from the R1 Arreté that I use at home is entirely consistent with the sound you hear from the R6 Arreté... just more of it for a bigger space. There are no inconsistencies or changes in tone or response, just more of the same. This is an extremely hard thing to do, when trying to reconcile the sound of a two-way stand-mount with a four-and-a-half way front, down, and rear firing floorstanding loudspeaker. That doesn’t mean the R1 is bass heavy or the R6 is bass light; they both have a decent, deep and ‘meaty’ sounding bass relative to the size of the room. Yes, we’re talking several organ pedals more on tap with the R6, but that’s all. This shows great restraint on behalf of Audiovector as the temptation to make a big loudspeaker sound ‘BIG’ is almost too much to resist it seems. And yet, listening to the R6 Arreté one is immediately struck by just how well balanced the sound seems, just like it did in the R8 and R1 before it.
This consistency also applies to the music played on the R6 Arreté. It does not go for a ‘grace and favour’ approach to music, making some tracks sound good at the expense of others. It tends to make most things sound good, not through rose-tinted euphonic sound, but just by virtue of being honest with the recording and its overall accuracy makes the best out a track in general.
If there is one thing that stands out about the R6 Arreté – and in an entirely good way – it’s that bottom end. It’s relatively easy to make a tight and tuneful two-way stand-mount loudspeaker (the trick is to either use a sealed box, or limit the extent and impact of the port, it seems), but doing the same on a far larger scale is extremely difficult. It’s something few companies get completely right, and either go with a lighter bass or a slower bass. Somehow (and I suspect the word ‘isobaric’ has a lot to answer for here), the R6 Arreté manages to combine bass depth and speed. My ‘go to’ test here is Trentemøller (staying on a Danish tip) and ‘Chameleon’ [The Last Resort, Poker Flat] and here the bass just pulsed away in time with the music; deep, taut, and very, very low. There was excellent integration between this deep bass and mid-bass on up, too, and this has to be one of the most seamless mash-ups between isobaric and main speaker in years.
Then there’s the dynamic range of these loudspeakers. Once again, we normally test these with large scale orchestral works at this level, to show how the speaker works in extremis. Here it does fine when playing Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances [Telarc], but more importantly it does dynamic texture well too. This is something that is more the domain of high-end designs, but often they present good microdynamics at the expense of the bigger picture. Here, the refinement of sublime piano playing [Schiff/Beethoven Piano Sonatas, ECM], gets both the force of the piano and the more delicate textures of the piece played perfectly. This gives a sense of realism to the piano recording, helped by the excellent quality of playing and engineering of course. In fact, every aspect of the R6 Arreté’s performance passed muster, and in many ways exceeded what I thought possible at the price.
Like other Audiovectors I’ve tested before the R6 Arreté, what it tends to do is challenge what your priorities are rather than show up its own limitations. If you are more concerned by bass depth or treble extension, the R6 Arreté excels in those aspects. If it’s top-to-bottom coherence, that works too. I’ve found that listening to Audiovectors, I’m more concerned by rhythm and less by soundstaging than I thought; it’s not that the R6 Arreté emphasises one at the expense of the other, it’s just that if it scores well on both, you find yourself either more drawn to one aspect than another.