Review: Ikon Akustik Avara Final Edition Floorstanding loudspeakers : The current generation of Ikon Akustik Avara lives up to its name affix.
Review: Ikon Akustik Avara Final Edition Floorstanding loudspeakers- “Final Edition” – someone is either going to retire soon or is quite convinced of the maturity of their speakers. For my retirement, Bernhard Stephan from Ikon Akustik, who personally brings the “Avara – Final Edition” (from 14,900 euros) to Berlin, which weighs exactly one hundredweight, seems too lively. The almost 17-year development evolution of the Ikon Avara, which was first launched in 2003, is probably the reason for the ultimate naming.
I think you can tell at first glance that the Ikon Avara – Final Edition fall back on a certain history. The generous bevel around the baffle alone is, let’s say, quite classic. To be honest, the manufacturer photos didn’t whet my appetite in terms of design. Seldom has there been such a turnaround after unpacking and setting up: The Ikon Avara are exceptionally personable, dignified, yes, somehow pleasantly “cozy” pieces of furniture, which visually work astonishingly well in the more modern, functional atmosphere of my listening room.
Of course, the excellent surface quality of our test speakers contributes to this: The structure of the bubinga veneer of the baffles has apparently been matched in my couple and, like the multilayered mother-of-pearl white paint on the rest of the speaker housing, has a nice optical depth. My white Spendor D9 (yes, yes – who buys Spendor loudspeakers in a non-veneer version …?) Look downright dismal in direct comparison.
If I had something to complain about with small minds, it would be that a Bubinga baffle was not brought onto the housing frame with accuracy to a tenth of a millimeter, which, however, is somehow to be seen as a sign of manual work. Otherwise: Quality wherever you look. Screwable pole terminals from the upper shelf of the Essen specialist WBT including self-made aluminum terminals, high-end bass drivers and mid-range speakers with ceramic membranes from Accuton / Thiel from Pulheim and a “real” ribbon that starts from 3500 Hertzof the Berlin provider Expolinear. In terms of ribbon technology, this is not the end of the flagpole, but what is more important for Ikon is that the tweeter, together with the broadband (from 250 Hertz) 14 cm ceramic mid-range driver, emits an acoustically optimal unit and transmits linearly up to an airy 30 kilohertz. By the way: I’ve had good experiences with mid-range speakers that work with a broadband range and I’m definitely a fan of such concepts.
Last but not least, Ikon Akustik appreciates the impulse behavior of the ceramic drivers and the associated time behavior. The Ikon developers consider the tonal sharpness or harshness, which is often assumed to be the case with this material due to its resonances, as completely unfounded if one takes appropriate care in the design of the frequency crossover. We will hear.
I have already mentioned the crossover frequencies, the electrical 12 dB (acoustic> 12 dB) steep switch setting for the frequency ranges of the three-way system is carried out by freely wired “SilberGold.Öl” capacitors, copper flat band and zero-ohm coils, all of which come from Mundorf , as well as a shielded and silver-plated pure copper internal wiring. In my experience, good engineering is about pure ingredient quality – not least my Spendor D9 are audible proof of that – but with a view to the housing, the drivers and electronics of the Ikon Avara – Final Edition, one thing is certain: even in view of the advanced price range in which move the loudspeakers, the South Hessian manufacturer offers a fair physical equivalent, which is definitely worth an extra praise.
Speaking of manufacturers: Not everyone will be familiar with Ikon Akustik, although the manufacturer from Mörlenbach, which specializes in loudspeakers (and turntables), has been around since 1998: In that year, the “High End” – at the time still in the Kempinski in Frankfurt Hotel – its first loudspeaker: a large two-way speaker with a 28 cm bass-midrange driver from Eton and a heavy-weight stage companion magnetostat. The current product range of the team around the developers Bernhard Stephan and Steffen Eggert starts with the coaxial compact loudspeaker Concento Unico (4,900 euros) and ends with the Viola D`Amore with diamond tweeters (39,000 euros). Incidentally, production is not carried out at the company’s formal headquarters, but in Altenburg, in Thuringia.
3 x practice
Before we arm the amps and let the Ikon Avara – Final Edition show what they can do in the listening room, three more practice-relevant points: The high-frequency level from around 3500 Hertz can be adjusted using three pairs of resistors (8.2 / 10/12 ohms) supplied Adjust 1 dB steps to suit the listening room or your own taste. The terminals for this are located on each loudspeaker below the pole terminals for the amplifier connection. I performed the hearing test in the neutral setting. On the bass side, the listener is also offered an adjustment option: The bass reflex openings can be completely closed or operated half-open as well as open – I will come back to this briefly later. My test copies then offer less flexibility in terms of “soling”: The pre-assembled metal feet turn out to be not exactly nice to my floorboard when moving the boxes, and they are also not height-adjustable (especially incomprehensible in this price range) and also not interchangeable. Alternatively, Ikon offers (detachable) screwable feet or embedded threads, which I would definitely recommend.
Ikon Akustik Avara – Final Edition: Sound Test & Comparisons
I sit on the sofa and look at two ribbons and six ceramic drivers. What ideas do you get when you start the listening course? Exactly, to really feel the dynamic abilities, the speed and the resolving power. After a few Frickel Metal records (I just can’t help it) I finally put the Open Form for Society , created around the German drummer and composer Christian Lillinger , into the playlist.
Short notes, great art
The track “Aorta” seems improvised when you first hear it, but it is a through-composed, only apparent chaos, which one could probably best put in the category of “free jazz”. A song cannot be more rhythmically complex and dynamically demanding, if one disregards the powerful coarse dynamics: In addition to Lillinger’s distinctive, fast-paced, yet not in the foreground drumming work with its 16th and 32nd notes pearls and rushes piano, marimba, Vibraphones and synthesizers across the stage, the bass accents of the acoustic and electric basses create the necessary counterbalance and there are also synthesizers and cello as a greeting from the kitchen. Inedible over the car radio, definitely irrelevant over mediocre systems, unfolds over my nimble onesBryston 7B3 Ikon Avara fired an unbelievable tension and desire for concentration.
One is tempted to chase after each and every one of the innumerable fleeting tones and greedily grab the next one at once. In my opinion, such a highly accurate transient reproduction is one of the highest honors of good high-ends, and neither my Sehring 903 nor my Spendor D9 can keep up with the Ikon Avara: The Berliners sound rounder, they lack the shimmering of the top a little bit Icon. And the English seem a bit more diffuse.
So background music works differently. Big dynamic cinema but exactly as it is shown by the Ikon Avara – Final Edition. Especially since they don’t make the mistake of overdoing it on the attack side or neglecting the sustain, as one might fear in view of the driver assembly trimmed to impulse precision. No, unpleasantly analytical, brittle, wiry or sallow – the typical symptoms of an overly “attacking” vote – it never sounds. On the contrary: I think that the Ikon Avara organically capture the subtle, kaleidoscopic textures and timbres in the transient cosmos of “Aorta”.
Who can can …
Those who can (fine) dynamics can also resolve. And so the spherical electro sounds in Bourbonese Qualk’s “Temporale” sound almost unlimitedly ethereal, one can subtly trace the fragility of Julia Stone’s voice in “Here We Go Again” and the Avara reveal the typical snarling of the snare in Red Sparows’ eight- minute minutes with the appropriate long title “Alone And Unaware, The Landscape Was Transformed In Front Of Our Eyes” differentiated in an exemplary manner. (The albums for the three tacks: On Uncertainty, A Book Like This, At the Soundless Dawn ).
Mind you, without any unpleasant analytical overtones. Even the “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel, which at least in the version available to me sounded like plastic, only annoys me a little more in the sibilance and treble range than through my somewhat more forgiving work speakers. They, in turn, show a little less complexity in the other tracks than the Ikon Avara Final Edition. The Audiaz Cadenza (28,000 euros, soon to be tested) proves that it can be even more complex at the top and in the middle than with my speakers and even finer-pixelated than with the Avara.
Tonally, the entire mid-high range of the Ikon Avara is almost neutral in terms of calibration instruments and therefore comes from the same school as my Sehring 903 (slightly less shiny than the Avara) or a Wilson Sabrina, while my Spendor D9 (now there is a 9.2) one Tick sounds more present and makes voices appear even more direct. Which, by the way, can be seen as a real strength, especially in combination with the slightly larger image. The Avara, however, is not impressed by the bean and gives James Skelly’s throaty voice in “Wrapped in Blue” ( Curse of Love , one of The Coral’s best albums) lined at the bottom and as present at the top as I know it from absolutely neutral speakers.
The authentic, organic voice reproduction of Ikon Akustik is quite a surprise to me. With a view to their driver equipment, I would have never expected the Avara – Final Edition to work out textures precisely: Voices appear very multifaceted, therefore more interesting than many other loudspeakers, even in this upper price range. But the seamless and coherent interaction of the ribbon and ceramic driver amazes me a little.
However, there are loudspeakers that reproduce voices in an even more focused manner. Which brings us to the topic of spatiality: The Ikon Avara Final Edition was not trained by its developers to delicately peel out vocals and instruments. It is great that voices can be located nicely in the center of the stereo panorama via the Avara, if they have been mixed in this way, but their spatial coherence and virtual tangible physique seem less compelling, less clear than is typically known from high-quality two-way compact loudspeakers, for example. However, this does not pass as a real horse, do not worry, just not as remarkably competent, the special spatial strengths of the Ikon Avara – Final Edition are elsewhere:
Because when it comes to “detaching the sound from the loudspeakers” and “dimensioning the stage”, the Avara can be said to be of excellence. The expansiveness of the image above – my former Spendor Classic SP100R² limited something here, for example – has something very involved in interaction with its forward- looking direction . Personally, I think that’s great! Do you like to listen to opulent and broadband mixed guitars or synthesizers in wall-of-sound style? Well, the Ikon Avara are able to build wonderfully large-format walls here, which for a change even have a connecting effect.
A little more exercise, please
Speaking of spatiality: Ikon recommends its Avara Final Edition for listening room sizes from 20 square meters upwards. My listening room measures almost 30 square meters with a ceiling height of 3.60 meters and is not critical of the bass. With a half-open bass reflex opening or the use of the foam ring, I cannot complain in any way about the lack of depth and bass pressure: The Avara are as befitting as adult, large floorstanding loudspeakers. In terms of level stability, this also applies.
I think you should give them 25, better 30 square meters of space , otherwise you run the unnecessary risk of catching room acoustics problems and thus not exhausting the loudspeakers to the full. Because completely closing the bass reflex opening is – at least after my attempts and not least with a view to timing – a suboptimal solution.
Take a deep breath
So we let the Ikon Akustik Avara breathe with a half-open bass reflex opening: On the one hand, it rewards the listener with a very crisp attack on the bass side, individual bass impulses swing in exceptionally jagged, and on the other hand with a depth that, for example, downloads “Outafter” (album: The Eyes of Stanley Pain) can be literally felt: You feel the very bottom of the electronic bass runs more than you hear them, you think you are physically aware of the pressure changes in the room and you get the vibrations of the sofa. Cool! Nothing booms there, although I have the middle bass the Avara tonally a little finger breadth – and really nothing more! – would be located above sea level. To put it into perspective : A Focal Sopra No 3 or AudioSolutions Virtuoso M have a much stronger bass side.
The Ikon Avara – Final Edition can only be lured out of reserve with music with very dense bass impulse sequences, such as in Free the Robots’ “Turbulence” (album: Ctrl Alt Delete). Then it doesn’t bubble and bubble so contoured, “countable”, not as differentiated as I know it from loudspeakers, especially with passive membranes – for example my earlier Thiel CS 3.7 or the current Sehring 903. In my opinion, the decay behavior of the two 18-note basses of the Avara plays a role here.
Conclusion Ikon Akustik Avara Final Edition
No matter how final the “Final Edition” may actually be: The current generation of Ikon Akustik Avara lives up to its name affix. The tonal coordination, which goes hand in hand with high resolution and jagged fine dynamics as well as high timbre fidelity and long-term suitability, testifies to a high degree of maturity: Only absolute top speakers are able to show the listener that uncompromisingly getting these criteria under one hat only with apparent onesContradictions. The Avara underline its selected audiophile character with exemplary mid-high frequency neutrality as well as the ability to show off its qualities even at low volumes – despite the party-friendly level stability when it matters. Only with faster impulse sequences in the bass or the not exaggeratedly sharply outlined spatiality will spoiled listeners have heard more advanced elsewhere. Nonetheless, the Ikon Akustik Avara Final Edition are among the most “all-round” speakers that have hit me so far. Their classically high-quality workmanship and high component quality are worth extra praise, even in view of the upscale price range; you get a fair value for the money also under this aspect.
The Ikon Akustik Avara Final Edition is characterized by …
- excellent resolution and fine dynamics.
- decent long-term suitability.
- an airy, transparent high tone with a beautiful sheen, but no unpleasant high gloss.
- Through audible, tonally very balanced mids with realistic timbres, which – just like the highs – are absolutely suitable for recording studios.
- a tonally minimally emphasized bass (with a half-open bass reflex ear), with a jagged attack. If the bass is acoustically very tight, the ability to differentiate decreases a little. In terms of depth, coarse dynamics and pressure, the Avara play in the tradition of full-blown, sovereign floorstanding loudspeakers.
- a nice, large-format picture detaching itself from the loudspeakers. Top! Maximum plasticity, on the other hand, is less the domain of the Avara.
- Quality veneer, very high quality lacquer with a nice visual “depth”, high component quality, which is not a matter of course even in this upscale price range. Basically more classic than ultra-modern design.
- Model: Ikon Akustik Avara – Final Edition
- Concept: 3-way floorstanding loudspeaker with ribbon tweeter and ceramic drivers
- Price: from 14,900, test version (Bubinga with mother-of-pearl): 15,900 euros
- Dimensions & weight: Dimensions: 113 x 25 x 45 cm (H x W x D), approx. 50 kg / piece
- Finishes: Veneer and lacquer as desired, the surcharges can range between 1,000 and 2,000 euros
- Efficiency: 88 dB / W / m
- Nominal impedance: 6 ohms
- Other: Level resistance control for the tweeter
- Guarantee: 5 years