AudioSolutions Speakers model Vantage S
Flagship Level Speakers from Lithuania
It all started when I first received a pair of Audio Solutions Rhapsody 80 through Chameleon Audio. A speaker which immediately disturbed the order in its price range, sonic wise on my system. The most musical and easily driven speaker in that market range I believe.
Months went by as I fell in love with the company’s philosophy and well-made products. I was reading and sharing comments with bloggers world wide to see what their experiences were, and sure enough we were all in bliss. The price was simply unbelievable for such a musical speaker. Only a few thousand and you had all this.
I had tested the aforementioned with the Audio Hungary Qualiton 50, an Icon Audio 8 Watt as well, and the last amp was the MSB mono blocks. I was using the upgraded and most expensive Melco as my front-end player which added to the sound quite a bit of quality, I must add. Not on the server side as much as the hard disks which seemed to be the best for music reproduction.
That is when the Vantage S came in (the 38.000 euro AudioSolutions flagship level), straight from the Athens Hi-End show, and as you can imagine, totally ready to be burnt in.
I would continue about the ingenious unboxing that the company took the time to create, for the consumers ease. Very smart and easy to work with and very safe for travel. So that’s one big point for the Vantage S right off the bat.
With its 3d vinyl on the back, its ability to increase or decrease (Woofers and tweeter) by 2db, its highs and lows were the very welcomed proposal, especially in 28 square meters which the listening area was. The truth is that, at first, I thought this would complicate the crossovers more, making the speaker less efficient and less clear.
At the Hxos & Eikona Greek Show, it was playing inside an 11 sqm space and obviously was in need of bigger area to breathe. The same amplification was used at first, the Audio Hungary Qualiton A50i Class A 50watts KT150-based all-tube model, which had driven other Audio Solution speakers. Believing that it would play splendid here, I started with this lovely integrated amplifier which I always have in any test, while having the MSB mono power amps as another choice.
Next up to connect was the absolutely stunning, and I do mean this, mind boggling MSB Select. Despite its 100 grand price tag, it signifies what endless is, in the DAC medium. It would never be the weakest link in any system. Cabling would be accompanied by the best from Synergistic Research, as well as the Powercell UEF 12 power conditioner, the grounding block, the XL atmosphere and the accompanying dots, which if someone could tell me how they worked, I would be grateful. I am still amazed at the ability these have changed the sonics in the room, to draw out the absolute best possible of any speaker. I am convinced that after the MSB team from Europe came to my home to set it up, that the owners and creators of the speakers had not heard them play so well. Goose bumps!! Well, when your spine cannot recover from one shock after another. But let us start from what felt like endless hours of break in.
I had to go through every piece of music I didn’t want to hear so that I could get these speakers to break-in quickly. When you review a speaker as this, you need six months, and if you were in a rush and had a scientific experiment to do with them, on sound and psychology, you could not wait that long. So, my time was cut to 2 months instead. This put a lot of pressure on me, and thus the speakers had to come into full blossom as soon as possible. The problem was that no one had heard the speakers and had quoted an accurate number of hours needed for them play at their best, this was model number 5. A brown set as you will see in the pictures and as far as I could read, not too many reviews had taken the speaker to analyze it to the depth I needed to. This was the hardest part of my time with these speakers. It was not setting them up (which was a pleasant surprise) as we found that even half an inch made a very large difference in the outcome; and that the speakers were very well made, not another “look alike” from an Italian brand as some had called it. This has papyrus in its cone, a specially treated beryllium tweeter and aluminum and gel infusions on its woofers. It was no ordinary speaker, and anyone who saw it would appreciate its impeccable craftsmanship immediately. The changes in sound performance was polarized: there were days when I did not have the absolute clearest electricity, yet it still outplayed the days when I left it off for over 12 hours and had the best electricity. I hate burning in speakers.
What amazed me most about the speaker was that it was never the weakest link. I used the MSB mono blocks on a test and it was adorable. The depth in the musical evaluation (articulation), not the soundstage, was literally beyond what I could expect from a smaller speaker. Everything that was placed on the system made the system play better and better. This entire set up was done by Veryfinesolutions, a company that is owned and operated by a special System-room Builder, Frank Vermeylen, and the changes he did was never just about playing differently, but better. So, to test my theory, I exchanged the speakers with 2 horn loaded speakers at the same cost and found out that the half-sized Vantage S had taken the best from all the front end. The horns could not. The setup of the speaker and the full equipment here took 3 full days, and one evening, to just get used to the sound. That is why I honestly believe that not even the owners of Audio Solutions could spare that much time to clinically set things up so well. There was 300.000 euro playing here! It is very easy to say you have made changes, but it is another to be able to measure them, compare them and evaluate them as better. Without a speaker as this, which reveals absolutely everything that is given to it, the MSB amplification would not be able to bring differences beyond expectation to me, not because I didn’t believe in the power units, or DAC, but because the speakers could pick up everything that it had to offer. It seemed that it was endless in its abilities, and very much deeper in soul, than anyone in the testing room during these 3 days could imagine.
I then tested with another streamer, and yet another, and realized that when the streamer or any front end which was added, it was changing the sound, not the speaker, inflicting its own signature to the music. This made the speaker what a speaker ultimately should be. A reproduction unit and not a music correcting mechanism for less than average front end components. This speaker could be played with anything thrown at it, and that was the most infatuating part of personality. It didn’t prefer one or another, it simply played whatever you had to its fullest.
This speaker kept on going and going until it finally reached a point of ultimate limits, not of the speaker, but of everything connected to it. Essentially, after the break in period, this was a fully functional reference speaker designed to show you what you had. The Vantage S is not a fussy speaker at all, a feature the team that came and heard were most impressed with. Not just me.
It also had a few secrets to it though. Its ability to be 2db lower on the highs and midbass made it exceptionally versatile in small rooms. When the amplifiers tested were booming, I could lower the bass, and when the one streamer I used had too much at the top end, I simply lowered the db on the tweeter and made it all better. God, that was great!
Vantage “S” features…
The Vantage S (S=small) is the smallest floor-standing from the whole collection. The height starts from its front edge at 104cm giving the impression of a mid-size speaker which later increases upwards and reaches 121cm at the back edge. Despite being average in size and looking even smaller because of the lower front, it does give ample and very quick bass. We managed to push the pair to 112 dB level at a listening point of 3m away from speakers in a 28sqm room. This was not achieved technically (by increasing the dB meter), but naturally with music having some bass notes to be heard.
I have to admit, the Vantage S not only plays music extremely naturally, but also plays it in full scale and with full dynamic range. The weak points were only the limitations of the rooms.
Design in detail…
Designed around fresh 5.5” wideband midrange drivers and supported by customized beryllium tweeter, it signalled that the company was getting seriously into the big rings to fight the big boys. The woofers were accompanied by a down firing aluminium cone 8” subwoofer. This was an exceptional idea. The company’s production of a five driver per speaker makes the Vantage S Anniversary small but mighty. It could have gone to 12-inch woofers and look like it could break a window, but instead, it did the same thing using techniques only top scientists and lovers of great music could conjure and achieve.
As a reminder Audio Solutions has a mini horn to enhance tweeter performance by lowering distortions and raising efficiency in such a critical region
Decorated with a highly durable top coat made from crushed stone and polyurethane lacquer, gives the speaker durability, and effects placed on the matte surface with glittering particles is very impressive.
Unique and stylish accent which give the looks of broken stone pieces is what comes to mind when you inspect it.
Never before top-grade 3D vinyl was used to decorate the back and cut-out of the sidewall. Much consideration was placed on its durability during the design phase. But damage tests proved that this material is actually tougher than any veneer, leather, even paints.
The company says “We feel very confident about our decision to use such materials in our products. New vinyl textures gives customer completely new view to speaker and for us – designers it opens new horizons to work with,” To be honest, I believe they were correct in assuming so.
Dimensions (HxWxD) : 1210 mm x 392 mm x 553 mm
Weight : 55 kg each
Sensitivity : 91 dB @ 2.83V 1m
Recommended power amplifier : 30-400 W rms
Impedance : nominal 4,0 ohms;
Crossover frequency : 50, 200, 8000 Hz
Frequency response (in-room environment) : 26-30000 Hz
Drivers : 2,5 cm beryllium dome tweeter, 13.5 cm Egyptian Papyrus mid, two 15 cm SPC paper bass drivers, 22 cm aluminium woofer
WBT bi-wiring terminals
Siberian birch plywood enclosure
Top grade Jantzen crossover parts
3D hexa-textured top grade vinyl
Vivid outlines (colour customizable)
Lacquer and crushed stone powder mix top coat for surface durability
Exceptional hexa-style feet covers of colour matching outlines
Distribution / Auditions in Greece: