A great-sounding pair of speakers is one thing – and the Amphion Argon1 certainly fit into that category – but what’s more impressive is when you can hear a company’s values with every note that is played.
In Amphion’s case, the Finnish manufacturer’s ambitious aim of creating versatile speakers that will pair with almost anything, and that you don’t have to rearrange the house to make sound good, is clearly evident. At this price, that skillset is rather hard to come by.
It has been more than a decade since we last tested a pair of Amphion speakers, and it’s fair to say we weren’t overly enamoured back then. That these diminutive gems are worthy of recommendation is even more welcome.
Build and compatibility
You may have heard of the Argon1 before – Amphion has been building these speakers for a significant portion of its 20-odd year history. We’re certainly not the first people to be won over by their form.
Type Two-way, vented
Drivers 2.5cm tweeter, 13cm woofer
Frequency response 45Hz – 25,000kHz
Dimensions (hwd) 31.6 x 16 x 26.5cm
At around 32cm tall and 27cm deep, they’re the second smallest offering in Amphion’s bookshelf range, after the tiny Argon0, and are dwarfed by competitors such as the KEF R3. Though we wouldn’t recommend taking that bookshelf moniker seriously, it means the Argon1 will fit in pretty much any room – something you couldn’t say about their KEF rivals.
They aren’t built to sound small, however. Amphion promises reference-quality midrange and deep bass from the Argon1’s 13cm aluminium-coned driver, which sits below a 25mm titanium dome tweeter. The tweeter sits in a deeply dished faceplate that aims to produce a degree of horn-loading and controls the unit’s dispersion characteristics.
While the metal speaker grilles can be removed each time you want to play music, they actually aid dispersion rather than hamper it – as most removable covers do if left on during playback. It all contributes to these speakers’ accommodating character, catering for plug-in-and-play, place it anywhere listening.
And that’s how it transpires. Placing the Argon1 with their back right up against the wall returns a bit more bass weight than having them out into the room, but in the latter position, the sound isn’t weakened at all. The character remains wherever you put them; it’s not often a speaker can promise that and actually deliver when tested.
That’s even better news when you consider that body and balance are major fortes of these truly likeable standmounters. The pursuit of such likeability can often lead to a roll-off of potentially tricky or easily provoked frequencies, but Amphion is confident in its ability to deliver treble and bass that is equally rich and detailed as the midrange.
There is a fullness to that midrange you might not readily associate with smaller speakers, best demonstrated by the lavish vocal lines that still have enough texture to remind us these are speakers with a four-figure price tag.
Don’t fret when you see Amphion boasting about these speakers’ bass response either; there is plenty of weight here, but they don’t sacrifice that mature balance trying to sound bigger than they are. Most importantly the low end is fast and detailed, leaving you the option to pair with a subwoofer if you crave more muscle, but by no means making that a necessity.
That is all complemented by a really strong sense of focus. While relatively mellow in character, the Argon1 have decent stereo imaging, which pans various instruments while placing melodies front and centre.
The problem is that the Argon1 come up against some incredibly tough competition. They are clean and fast, but in terms of detail, they struggle to lay a glove on the class-leading speakers around this price, including the KEF R3 and even more insightful KEF LS50 Meta.
Pitting the Argon1 against the R3 might not be an entirely fair fight – those who can accommodate the latter probably won’t be auditioning these Amphions. The LS50 Meta are a generally manageable size and also a few hundred pounds cheaper.
It makes us feel less demanding for wanting more of the KEFs’ strict timing and punchy dynamics from the Amphions. The Argon1 are not void of expression, nor would we call them boring, but they often fail to grab us when the music demands it. That also means that it’s important not to pair them with anything slovenly or apathetic.
But these are gripes only when you consider that the competition is stiffer than ever at this price point – and there is no pair of speakers that can claim to be perfect.
In terms of a pair of bookshelf speakers that it’s possible to place anywhere, and pair with pretty much anything, you’ll struggle to find many more versatile than the Amphion Argon1. Added to a maturity that’s consistent with their four-figure tag, and we’re sure these standmounters will find many grateful owners.
- Sound 4
- Compatibility 4
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best stereo speakers
Read our KEF R3 review
Read our KEF LS50 Meta review