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Audiovector R6 Arreté review

The R6 Arreté’s understated exterior hides a design of unusual complexity and rare musical talent Tested at £25,495 / $37,000 / AU$49,800

Audiovector R6 Arreté
(Image: © Audiovector)

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Audiovector’s R6 Arreté are exceptional musical performers. Give them a suitably talented system and they will shine

Pros

  • +

    A musical, cohesive and insightful sound

  • +

    Surefooted rhythmic drive and expressive dynamics

  • +

    Bass grip and agility

  • +

    Fine build and classy finish

Cons

  • -

    Optional ‘Freedom’ cable doesn't come cheap

Audiovector is a small, specialist speaker manufacturer based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in 1979 by Ole Klifoth, who remains heavily involved in the company to this day, and now works alongside the current CEO, his son, Mads.

We mention this not just because Ole and Mads are nice people (they are) but because it speaks to a remarkable consistency in the way the company has been run since its inception. Audiovector has always made smart but understated premium to high-end speakers, and that continues today. This impressive consistency also applies to the sound quality of the company’s products.

This R6 is a great example. It is the third Arreté model we’ve heard from the brand and follows the similarly range-topping versions of  the standmounting R1 and compact floorstanding R3. Of course, there’s more scale, authority and bass extension as the speakers get bigger, but, in essence, they all share a common sonic character, one that we’ve found hugely appealing over the years.

Build & Design

Floorstanding speakers: Audiovector R6 Arreté

(Image credit: Audiovector)

Audiovector is unusual in the way its main product ranges are organised. Each range is based around a core model, called the Signature. Elements of the model such as the drive units, crossover or even the structure of the cabinet are upgraded for the step-up Avantgarde model, and then again to reach range-topping Arreté status. Arreté is the ultimate expression as far as the company’s engineering goes and features a whole host of quite exotic technologies.

It’s possible to buy a Signature or Avantgarde and get it upgraded to the next model up at a later date for the difference in retail price, plus a 30 per cent premium to cover shipping and labour costs. So, not the cheapest way to climb the rungs, but it protects that initial investment and allows the customer to upgrade in stages. This is a benefit that no other speaker manufacturer offers as far as we know. 

On the surface, the R6 Arreté looks much like a bigger version of the R3 we tested back in 2019, with just an increase in size and the addition of a pair of front-firing reflex ports marking the difference. Look closer and it’s much more than that, which explains the more than doubling of retail price.

The R6 Arreté packs six drive units in a 4½-way configuration. On the front baffle there’s the company’s best AMT (Air Motion Transformer) tweeter. It features a coated mylar diaphragm driven by Neodymium magnets and is decoupled from the cabinet to maximise performance. Unusually, the tweeter is open from the back as well as the front, which helps give a more spacious presentation.

Below that distinctive high frequency unit sits a pair of 165mm woven aramid composite units. These drivers use titanium voice coils, powerful ceramic ferrite magnets and have rigid magnesium chassis. 

Despite looking identical, these drivers don’t work in parallel. The upper unit delivers the midrange, working between 350Hz - 3kHz, leaving the lower one to cover a narrower band of 100Hz - 350Hz. Below that, the signal is handed over to an isobaric bass arrangement that features two drivers – 165mm and 200mm units – both tucked away inside the cabinet. The larger driver fires downward through a large opening in the plinth.

Audiovector R6 Arreté tech specs

Floorstanding speakers: Audiovector R6 Arreté

(Image credit: Audiovector)

Type 4½-way floorstanders

Tweeter AMT (Air Motion Transformer)

Midrange Rear-firing 75mm

Mid/bass 165mm carbon fibre cone x 2

Bass 165mm x 1, 200mm x 1

Sensitivity 91.5dB/W/m

Impedance 8 ohms

Size (hwd) 123 x 28 x 43cm

That’s not all: there’s a small 75mm rear-firing midrange unit that’s also hidden inside the cabinet. It only delivers the midrange signal at a low level that’s carefully chosen to improve the depth of soundfield and sense of spaciousness.

Overall, that’s a pretty complex drive unit arrangement, and we find ourselves wondering whether Audiovector has bitten off more than it can chew when it comes to driver integration and making everything work harmoniously. A look at the star rating shows that isn’t the case.

It’s impressive to find that all the drive units from the AMT tweeter down to the isobaric bass pairing are handmade in Denmark. We suspect doing things this way gives the company an element of control over quality that it might otherwise not have.

Moving away from drivers, there are plenty of other interesting details in the R6 Arreté’s design. Highlights include the cryogenically treated crossover that’s cooled to -238 degrees and gently brought up to room temperature (to relieve internal stresses and reduce resistance), and the carefully tuned decoupling of the spikes from the main enclosure to reduce any unwanted interaction between the floor and speakers.

Take a look at the bi-wire speaker terminals on the back of the R6 and you’ll find an extra terminal marked ‘Ground’. This is connected to the drive units and is claimed to reduce any movement-induced distortions caused by stray currents in their structure.

This ground terminal is intended to be connected to the earth in your mains supply and Audiovector makes a special ‘Freedom’ cable for the job. Note, only the mains earth wire is connected on the ‘Freedom’ cable, not the live or neutral, though it’s odd that the company has left a fuse in place in the plug when it’s not needed. This cable is pricey at £595 / $850 / AU$750, but is well worth it in terms of the improvement in sound quality it brings.

Any speakers at this level deserve suitably talented partnering equipment. Our sources are Naim’s ND555/555 PS DR music streamer and the Technics SL-1000R record player with Kiseki’s Purpleheart moving coil. The rest of the set-up is our usual reference amplifier combination of Burmester’s 088 preamp feeding the 911 MkIII power amp. We also have Linn’s Klimax DSM AV music streamer and a McIntosh MA8950 integrated amplifier on hand to see how the speakers cope with a different flavour of electronics. In the event there’s nothing to be concerned about, these speakers merely reflect the quality of the signal.

Sound

Audiovector R6 Arreté

(Image credit: Audiovector)

As always, it pays to take care in speaker positioning and things are no different here. We end with the R6s around 80cm into the room with a slight angling towards the main listening position. While the toe-in angle isn’t particularly critical, suggesting good dispersion characteristics, it’s still worth taking the time to optimise the results in terms of soundstage focus and width. Also, these are pretty tall speakers (123cm) with the tweeter set quite high, so make sure that your seating position doesn’t put you too far below the tweeter’s axis.

Just like other Arreté level speakers we’ve heard, these towers are wonderfully musical performers. They manage that difficult trick of getting us to focus on the music rather than the mechanics of hi-fi. It starts with a surefooted way with rhythms where these towers manage to convey the drive and momentum of a track like Come As You Are from Nirvana superbly. There’s so much energy here, and it is combined with the high level of refinement and control the price demands. 

Detail levels are terrific, with the R6 Arreté speakers revealing layers of texture and nuances that many alternatives would ignore. Pleasingly, all this information is delivered with enviable organisation and composure. They’re talented enough to sound small and agile when the music demands but have the dynamic stretch, low-end reach and outright authority that only really big speakers usually achieve.

These traits are obvious when we listen to Stravinsky’s The Rite Of Spring, where the R6 Arreté deliver an explosive performance full of verve and passion. Not only do they dig deeply into the bass – that isobaric arrangement really works well – but those lows are agile and pleasingly subtle when required. They’re also very nicely balanced and integrated, with the speakers sounding as seamless as they come despite the elaborate nature of the drive unit arrangement.

We’re pleased with the stereo imaging. That rear-firing midrange is subtle in operation but helps to give the R6’s soundstage a lovely sense of air and space. Image focus is sharp and the speakers have the ability to layer the soundstage well and keep the image stable even when the music becomes demanding. 

Oh, and the R6s play loud without issue, keeping their composure even when listening levels rise to party levels. Of course, your amplifier has to be able to deliver the grunt necessary for that to happen. A rather specific claimed sensitivity of 91.5dB/W/m and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms certainly suggests that these towers aren’t going to be particularly awkward to drive. But, the rated power handling of 450 watts indicates that Audiovector expects customers to partner them with some beefy electronics.

Verdict

These Audiovector R6 Arreté speakers are exceptionally rounded performers. They’re as comfortable playing the low-key Found Songs from Olafur Arnalds as they are Eminem’s Recovery set in full flow. Give them a suitably talented system and take care in set-up, and they can’t fail to please. Highly recommended.

SCORES

  • Sound 5
  • Build 5
  • Compatibility 4

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Best speakers: budget to premium stereo speakers

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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  • rorm
    Actually ART loudspeakers based in Troon have been offering a similar upgrade service for their models for years.
    Reply
  • 12th Monkey
    The article doesn't suggest Audiovector is unique in this regard.
    Reply
  • rorm
    "This is a benefit that no other speaker manufacturer offers as far as we know."

    Just helping WhatHIFI here by letting them know another manufacturer which does!
    Reply
  • 12th Monkey
    Ah, must have missed that and stand corrected!
    Reply