If the name L-Acoustics resonates, give yourself a pat on the back: What Hi-Fi? spent a happy afternoon experiencing the L-Acoustics 24-channel BluSpace Standard Island, as well as a cocooned evening listening to Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini's new album (in conjunction with Pitchblack Playback) on the company's immersive Ocean system in Highgate, earlier this year.
Now, the French high-end audio company is bringing its immersive audio products into your home, with a five-strong range of fully realised systems called Archipel.
Originally designed as professional loudspeaker systems, L-Acoustics founder Dr. Christian Heil says, "Archipel components have been selected, refined, and sometimes re-designed and tuned for private use without compromising any of the original performance characteristics." They're not cheap but they do promise to bring the company's impressive pro audio pedigree into your home.
The Ibiza system, built around the Kara II speaker (unanimously popular with star DJs, see Avery, above) is the most sophisticated system in the new Archipel offering. Dr. Heil adds, "Each Archipel system is designed as a turnkey package with factory presets, and connects easily to the usual home hi-fi environment."
L-Acoustics will even recommend products to partner its packages, to ensure you're hearing the system at its best. "We go as far as recommending third-party products for streaming, video and upmixing, in order to help the customer find their way through the jungle of formats and streamers on the market," Heil confirms.
There's plenty to get through, so let's drill down into the five systems L-Acoustics Creations has packaged for our listening pleasure.
Fiji 2.1 is billed as a versatile and compact yet powerful sound system, which the firm has designed for smaller spaces. The components of Fiji 2.1 are typically deployed by audio professionals for musical theatre applications or in upscale hospitality venues. The L-Acoustics design team has assembled these very same building blocks into a consumer package.
The system comprises two X4i two-way passive coaxial speakers (which weigh just 1kg apiece), a Syva Sub and the company's LA2Xi; a class D four-channel amplified controller, with connector panel and case. Partner it with your hi-res music streamer and you've got yourself a system, or add a preamp to bring other audio sources into the mix.
Fiji 2.1 will perform best as a wall-mounted system paired with a screen or as a desktop system. And don't let its bijou dimensions fool you: a 124 dB max SPL means it'll go loud (remember, 125 dB is the point at which sound can actually get painful, so it'd be churlish to want more).
Helpfully, each package comes with ideal room dimensions and listening scenarios – L-Acoustics is meticulously thorough. When it comes to Fiji, L-Acoustics recommends a 1.3-metre optimal listener position, a 6m² sweet spot and 20m² listening area.
How does a jump from four hi-fi separates to ten sound? It's not the next system step up in terms of size and pricing for Archipel, but considering the components here are known to us from L-Acoustics' Ocean sound system, the fact that they could soon be in your home is a proposition so pressing, we've granted precedence.
Meet Tonga 2.1, with a 7m optimal listener position, a 32m² sweet spot, 800 m² listening area, 140 dB maximum SPL and 8,000 W power output.
The system kicks off with two Syva loudspeakers (there are 18 in the Ocean system). You'll also get two Syva Low speakers, four Syva Subs and two LA4X amplifiers.
Taking it back to five separates – but holding on to those powerful and elegant, wave-fronted Syva stereo speakers – the Tahiti package also includes two Syva Subs and one LAX4 amplifier.
Tahiti's ideal environment involves a 3.5 m optimal listener position, a 20m² sweet spot and a 200m² listening area. There's a 133 dB maximum SPL and 4,000W output power, too.
L-Acoustics recommends that Tahiti will perform best as a wall-mounted system paired with a large format screen, or as a premium hi-fi stereo system. The company's Syva speakers boast an IP54 rating, too, so a spot of rain won't upset them, so if you've got the space and inclination, this could be a supremely high-end outdoor system.
L-Acoustics' Hawaii professional sound system promises to bring the music festival to your lounge. In fact, the firm states confidently that Hawaii perfectly matches the sonic signature of L-Acoustics' professional stage systems used for mixing at some of the world’s biggest music events.
The X8 concentric speakers at the core of Hawaii (weighing in at 12kg apiece and almost half a metre high) are used by audio engineers around the world, such as Kevin Madigan, FOH engineer for Lana Del Ray and Santana, so you'd be in good company.
This 2.1 setup pairs the two X8 speakers with two S-Series Syva Subs, a subwoofer that combines all of the company's most advanced pro audio technologies to deliver optimised low-frequency delivery. The LA4X class D four-channel amplified controller, with case, completes this audio proposition.
The Ibiza 2.0 offering sits at the pinnacle of the new L-Acoustics Archipel and features six of the company's newest Kara II loudspeakers and four SB18 compact subs, with over 24,000 watts providing up to 142dB sound pressure level. Here, it's a 1.5 m optimal listener position.
The addition of L-Acoustics Panflex technology in the newest generation of Kara, Kara II, promises to enhance precision and directivity, reinforcing the pro audio superstar status of Ibiza 2.0.
The distinctive K-shaped silhouette of Kara is clearly visible as the monitor setup for headline talent on plenty of festival mainstages. As for the all-important low frequencies, Ibiza’s SB18 subwoofers, (remember, you get four here) promise to put the bass in all the right places. You also get two LA2Xi class D four-channel amplified controllers with connector panel and case. If you really want the DJ toolkit of choice, then Ibiza beckons.
If you'd like a home entertainment pro sound system that goes beyond 2.1, Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, and Tonga can all be provided in custom configurations for 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos, although this requires more thorough interaction with L-Acoustics' sound design engineers to understand the user scenario and tune the system for optimal coverage and performance.
Pricing (excluding shipping and works, but including VAT) is as follows:
Fiji 2.1: €9,060
Hawaii 2.1: €16,860
Tahiti 2.1: €28,080
Tonga 2.1: €47,160
So no, they're not cheap.
Note that while Fiji is a self-assembly system, the packages Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, and Ibiza can (and most-definitely should) involve a half-day appointment with an L-Acoustics sound expert for system installation and handover. The Ibiza 2.0 system is price on application.
L-Acoustics Creations is now accepting pre-orders for the Archipel range, with deliveries beginning 1st October for packages Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, Ibiza, and 1st November for Fiji.
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