Acapella vs. Avantgarde

I currently run a Cary CD-306, Cary SLP-05 preamp, and Cary 805AE monoblocks with a pair of ProAc D38's (see system). The combination is sweet and involving, but the combo just does not boogie when asked to play a large orchestral piece, by Mahler/Wagner/Shostakovich. When the volume is turned up, dynamics are poor and the system starts to sound compressed. I suspect that the 50W Cary's simply does not have enough guts to drive the ProAc's, so I am considering replacing them with a more efficient speaker. Since most SET afficionadoes love horns, this led me to look into Avantgarde and Acapella.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. Avantgarde is available through a dealer here, but he does not have any in stock. The Acapella dealer is in Sydney (a plane flight away). I am looking to spend A$30,000 - which will buy a nice Avantgarde Duo, or a secondhand Acapella High Violon.

I have read plenty about the dynamics of the Avantgardes, but my concern is if they have horn coloration. Also, how do they image? Are they sensitive to room placement?

Would the Acapella High Violon's be a better buy, considering the pair I can potentially get my hands on have been heavily discounted? I have read that Acapella's suffer from disjointed sound because of the three different driver technologies (plasma tweeter, horn mids, conventional woofer). How much is this a problem? And are there any room placement issues? Given that the Acapella's have lower sensitivity (91 dB/W/m) would I be achieving a real upgrade by moving from the ProAc's?
Hornguys, what are the main sonic differences between the Uno's and the Duo's? The dealer does not have a set of Uno's, so if I want them i'll have to order them out of sight. The specs say that the diameter of each horn is 70cm less which would help a lot in getting them to fit in my room.

Joey_v, at the moment I am renting and looking to buy a nice house in Melbourne. Don't know if you have been here, but the closer you want to live to the city, the smaller the houses are! It's only out in the 'burbs where you can get a decent sized house. So in short, I don't know how big my next listening room is going to be.
Well, my friend Jacek came last night and he shared with me his knowledge, based on the fact that he owns Acapella Violins and have heard many AG, including my UNOs.

He agreed that the top end of the Accapelas is unbeatable, as well as the overall tonal palette and involving presentaton, on the other hand - he said that the speed, bass impact and midrange purity of the AG (UNOs in this case) were a tad better than the Acapellas.

Hope this additional piece of information helps you out, or any potential AG/Acapella buyer

Amfibus, the Duo mid horn is about 2" wider on either side. Since it's fairly directional, I haven't noticed any problems simply placing it wherever a UNO had been installed.

Flg2001, I'd agree with your friend's observation about the Acapella tweeter. Of course the difference is much less with the DUO, as the DUO is using the smoother and more refined TRIO tweeter driver. Even so, the Acapella tweeter, when it's working right, is mighty tough to beat. I'd still give the honors to it, even over the TRIO driver.

It's always possible to find a particular range where a great speaker can beat another. For me the question is, what's the overall presentation do for me? Do I forget I'm listening to a speaker and literally become immersed in the musical experience?

Maybe it's just me, but so often over the years the very thing that was calling my attention to itself became the thing that drove me to distraction later. Even when that part was truly excellent.

So on the whole, with the lusher and more involving presentation of the DUO (not to mention the huge difference in dynamics), I'd take its musical involvement factor in a heartbeat.

But hey, no matter how objective I'd like to think I am, I'm probably still a bit biased.

So ymmv...

Best regards,

Jim Smith
In response to Fernando's comments, with respect to the Violons, the comparison is probably accurate but will be influenced by the amp driving the Acapella's. Midrange purity is better with tubes, low bass and speed improve with an appropriate solid state amp. The comparison becomes increasingly less accurate as one moves up the Acapella line first to the Campaniles where the midrange horn goes down to 500 hz and even more so with the Triolons which have a bass horn that goes down to 170 hz. In each instance as the bass cut off moves lower there is a concommitant increase in speed, bass impact and midrange purity. I think that the common thread with all the Acapella speakers is the plasma tweeter which is by far the best tweeter that I have ever heard including the diamond tweeter used in some of the Martens, the tonal purity and the seamlessness of the very different drivers. The AG speakers have a different set of strengths but are equally credible. In the end, as you move up the Acapella line, you begin to close in on the areas where the AG's are very strong keeping the areas where the Acapella's are strong.
I had the pleasure to listen to Fernando's wonderful system last weekend and I was really impressed with the overall speed, dynamics and bass slam of his Unos. In these three areas the Unos sounded better than any other Avantgardes I ever heard. I think that it had a lot to do with Fernando's room, which, unlike the listening rooms in the U.S., has a very rigid structure built of brick, stone and concrete. My listening room is a typical American construction, which I believe is responsible for a relative lack of low end speed and dynamics, not only with my Acapellas, but any other speakers I had before (including the MBL 101Ds, known for their exceptional speed and bass dynamics).

As far as the Acapella vs. Avantgarde question goes, having listened to the Duos and Trios on several occassions and owning a pair of High Violons, I find the Avantgardes to be better in the frequency range covered by the Violons 10" mid-woofer (800Hz and below): they are fast, dynamic and in the right room can sound very visceral with amazing impact and well defined leading edge. They are so good in this respect that the slight lack of low end extension and slight discontinuity in the upper bass are something one could easily live with. The Violons don't quite have such explosive dynamics and the amazing speed, but their bass seems a little more of a piece, is pretty tight and nimble albeit it doesn't quite have the slam and gut moving impact of the Avantgardes. From 800Hz up and particularly in the treble (the plasma tweeter is unbelievable), the Acapellas are hard to beat, with gorgeous, very realistic tone, amazing presence, transparency, tons of natural detail and superb extension. The Avantgardes are not quite as tonally dense and sound relatively less refined, but are still better than almost anything else on the market.

Now, the perfect speaker would have the Violon's section from 800Hz up, the Avantgardes' big horn to go down to 200Hz and a great woofer system (perhaps the AG bass-horns) for the bass. One such system already exists (although it uses standard woofers): Acapella Triolon Excalibur. Unfortunately it retails at $145,000...