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Floor standing loudspeakers
Avalon Acoustics TRANSCENDENT

Price in Poland:
68500 PLN (standard veneer) | 84000 PLN (extra veneer)

Manufacturer: Avalon Acoustics

Avalon Acoustics | 2800 Wilderness Place
Boulder, Colorado 80301 | USA
tel.: (303) 440-0422 | fax: (303) 440-4396

WWW: Avalon Acoustics
Country of origin: USA

Distribution in Poland: Audio System

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła | Avalon Acoustics
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

Avalon writes on their company web page, that the Transcendent uses a combination of different technologies created by the company during the last 10 years, used before in the models Isis and Time. And further: “Never before has such a compact system utilized the sophisticated dynamic control technologies found exclusively in our most advanced designs. Octave to octave energy balance is equivalent throughout the bandwidth envelope and developed without compression while critically damped, thus delivering a spatial presentation that is faithful to the recording. The result is a dynamic system that focuses images palpably within a panoramic sound stage without sacrificing transparency or low frequency solidity.” I remember well, how the loudspeakers model Ascendant sounded, which I tested not so long ago, and which were the basis for the creation of the model Transcendent – to a large extent those could have been described in this way.
When the new loudspeakers were shipped to me, then placed and unpacked by the people from the distributor, I thought, that they will be a development of what I heard from the Ascendants. Those are closely related loudspeakers – three drivers, two-way, with concave tweeters using ceramics and mid-woofers with diaphragms from a woven Kevlar-Nomex fiber, a material coming from the DuPont factories, developed to protect firemen from high temperatures. The material is called HECACONE in audio and is very light and rigid, has also a very good internal damping. Loudspeakers based on this material are manufactured by the company Eton. The enclosures are also similar, and from the bottom we have a lossy hole resembling a bass-reflex port. As it will be clear in a moment, the similarities are only external, and the small changes, like the fully ceramic tweeter in place of the composite, slightly different mid-woofers, a larger enclosure and a single lossy hole instead of two – all this combines in a completely, but really completely different product.

To date we tested:

  • Floor standing loudspeakers Ascendant, test HERE


Selection of recordings used in the test:

  • Tron Legacy, OST, muz. Daft Punk, Special Edition, Walt Disney Records, 9472892, 2 x CD.
  • Arimasa Yuki & Hisatsugu Suzuki, Duet, Sony BMG Masterworks/JVC, UNACD-10-01, XRCD24.
  • Bill Evans Trio with Monica Zetterlund, Swedish Concert 1975, Jazzhus Disk, JD-7606, CD.
  • Bill Evans, Everybody Digs Bill Evans, Riverside/JVC, JVCXR-0020-2, XRCD.
  • Brian Eno, Craft On A Milk Sea, Warp Records, FLAC 24/44,1.
  • Carol Sloane, Hush-A-Bye, Sinatra Society of Japan/Muzak, XQAM-1031, CD.
  • Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, Naim Label, 24/96 FLAC.
  • David Munion, Pretty Blue, Stockfisch Records, SFR 357.6072.2, CD.
  • Depeche Mode, Enjoy The Music, Mute/Sire/Reprise, 921490-2, Maxi-SP CD.
  • Diorama, The art of creating confusing Spirits, Accession Records, EFA 23450-2, CD
  • Don Friedman Trio, Circle Waltz, Riverside/JVC, VICJ-60258, XRCD².
  • Frank Sinatra, Sinatra At The Sands, Sinatra Society of Japan, UICY-94366, SHM-CD.
  • Freddie Hubbard, Open Sesame, Blue Note/Audio Wave, AWMXR-0012, XRCD24.
  • George Michael, Faith, Epic/Sony Music, 7753020, 2 CD+DVD.
  • Grabek 8, Polskie Radio, PRCD 1372, CD.
  • J. S. Bach, Solo Suites Nos 1,3&5, Mischa Maisky, Deutsche Grammophon/ Universal Music Company [Japan], UCG-50085, SHM-CD.
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch Records, 524055-2, CD+DVD;
  • Metallica, Master of Puppets, Vertigo/ Universal Music Company [Japan], UICY-94664, SHM-CD.
  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve, 24/96 FLAC.
  • Stan Kenton & June Christy, Duet, Capitol/Toshiba-EMI, TOCJ-9321, CD.
  • Wynton Kelly, Kelly Blue, Riverside/JVC, JVCXR-0050-2, XRCD2.

Japan versions of CD, SHM-CD, XQCD, SHM-SACD etc. you can find HERE.

Trying to write this test for you, I am left with a problem. Because this time I am testing loudspeakers, which are not “mine”, in the sense, that it is completely not my sound, but at the same time those are splendid, very mature products, and in some aspects even exceptional. But the problem is how to tell you their history in my system, in a way, that “my” would not obscure the objective (within the boundaries of course). In other words, how to compose my statement, completing its esthetic (artistic) function, where the emotive function would not cover the cognitive one. In the end the language is used most of all for COMMUNICATION, doesn’t it? Yes, but the communication on itself does not create culture, any added value… Yes, I could fulfill two further functions – phatic – I am keeping up the virtual dialog with you, and meta-lingual, because I am not writing about the subject itself but about how I am going to write about it.

And now let’s go directly to the most important communication: those are splendid, very nice loudspeakers, and to that perfectly made, which completely missed my taste and did not fit in my system.
I listened to them for a long time, they replaced the Ascendo System ZF3 S.E., which in their turn replaced the Ktêma Franco Serblin. And in the meantime there were also the Avalon Ascendant, the younger brothers from the Transcendent. This was a streak of very expensive and very good loudspeakers. From all of them the two Avalon were the cheapest, and the tested model is costing half the price of the two first ones. And not as good. Except for a few elements, which are almost as good as in the Ktêma, one or two like in the ZF3 S.E. it can be heard, that those were cheaper loudspeakers. I do not have a problem with that – this is for sure not a sound half as good, or even 1/3. But my system turn out to be not a very good natural environment for them.
Because the Transcendent are completely different than the Ascendant – they are quick, open, well developed, dynamic and impressive from the start on. In their sound the very precise and very resolved treble dominates. Not that there is a lack of the bass – absolutely not! It is just that the energy of the cymbals, trumpets and everything above the 2-3kHz is big. And at all this it is really a very clean sound. I think, that this is the result of using a the concave, ceramic tweeter, known from the higher models of Avalon. In the Ascendant there was ceramic dome. It resembled a tweeter used in the Revel Ultima loudspeakers. It can be heard perfectly, you do not need to do any extensive listening, that the speaker used in this model is much better. Although I tested many devices with those loudspeakers, because they can be a perfect tool for that, during the last few days I listened mostly to XRCD discs. The things I am talking about, resolution, precision but also massiveness, substantiality (something related to saturation) of the treble allowed to fully appreciate the skills of the people who invented this way of mastering, but also the mastery of the sound engineers who made the recordings in the 50-ties and 60-ties.
Because the Avalon showed a very palpable sound – those were instruments surrounded by dense noise. But the noise was not part of the music, but something aside, what the brain perfectly identifies as an artifact and separates from the main information. This is one of the characteristics of the hi-end. The cymbals had a very vivid character, were not brightened or thinned. Frankly speaking in terms of resolution, speed, decay, etc, the tweeter in the Avalon is better than the one in the Ktêma. And only the ribbon in the Ascendo showed an even better extended frequency response and nicer spectrum.

I concentrated on the treble and upper midrange, because this is a thing, that will become visible immediately after firing up those loudspeakers. This is a high class sound. But the fact, that this whole subrange is reproduced in a very strong way would make me search for a different amplifier, than the one I own, if I would like to keep them. Those loudspeakers need a tube amplifier, a quite warm and creamy sound one at that. Like I say – a solid state amplifier can sound tubey, so it can be a warm transistor. Lately many solid state amplifiers with worked out harmonics and coherent sound appeared on the market, just to name for example the IN400 from Atoll or Nagra MSA. Avalon itself recommends such a solution, because they tune their loudspeakers with solid state gear, and exposes on shows using it.

Maybe also a transistor will sound better than some of the tubes (I will return to the tube in a moment). The Avalon are not so easy to drive as it could seem. On first sight it is not audible. The Ascendants were easy to drive, while they had only 1dB higher efficiency and a similar impedance. The Transcendent reach visibly lower and the bass is more dynamic and impressive. And it requires better control, to not become boomey. So a good transistor would be a good choice. On the other hand (an now I am returning to the tube) I think, that the way a good tube amplifier using the KT88 (or EL34) builds its sound, how it harmonizes everything, how it combines everything in a coherent way will make the Avalon pray for something like that…

Well, enough about the upper part of the spectrum. Like I mentioned already, there is no problem with the amount of bass. Frankly speaking, the Transcendent have exactly right amount of it. In jazz the contrabass was never louder than necessary, it can be heard, that it is in fact a quiet instrument, in electronics, like on the splendid disc Grabek 8 it can hit will all might. With a current capable amplifier the quality of this subrange is fantastic. The bass can be shown on different places on the stage, it is not bound to its middle, or the loudspeaker, and its place depends only on where it was placed by the sound engineer (or producer).
This is a very dynamic part of the sound spectrum. And it is to most extent responsible for the loudspeakers being so impressive. Andrzej, my friend who visited me during the test, noticed that after one piece, and it was the untypical version of Enjoy The Silence (Harmonium) Depeche Mode, placed on a maxi-single. The piece was recorded using a reed organ, powered by air. There is not much of a spectacle in it, but the Avalon made it become a spectacle. They expanded the sound stage, added an element of extra dynamics and boom – we sat enchanted, listening to the sounds, almost seeing the guy sweating while pumping the reed organ…
Yes, the sound stage is one of the most important aspects of those loudspeakers. The first plane is drawn slightly behind the line of the speakers, what combines well with each kind of material. With recordings, where the vocal is most important, like on the discs Hush-A-Bye Carol Sloan and Duet June Christy & Stan Kenton, then it is big and fleshy, but it does not come in front of the loudspeakers. In the window between the loudspeakers there is a drama, behind it, far in depth, there are the elements related to the room. This can be especially appreciated with live recordings, like Sinatra At The Sands, with which the Avalon made a true spectacle, due to their exceptional dynamics and leading of the bass.

Those are fantastic loudspeakers. And – yes, those are no speakers for me. I think, that I could point to the priorities, that the constructors of this model had to choose. They wanted to create a loudspeaker with a high dynamics, open and quick sound. And the plan succeeded, and how! But they need a rather warm system, when we will profit from all their assets, and the assets of such an amplifier (because this is mostly about it). When we succeed to fulfill those requirements we get a mature, high quality sound placing those loudspeakers in high-end, for not so much money, looking at their price.


Avalon Transcendent are big, solid loudspeakers with three drivers and two-way setup. Yes, similar to the Ascendant also this model is something like a floor standing bookshelf speaker, regardless of how this description sounds. Despite all the similarities between those two models they share only the looks – the size and the number of transducers. But the speakers are different. On the treble works a concave tweeter, with a diameter of 24.5mm with a neodymium drive. It can be seen, that it is placed deeper than needed for facing it with the baffle – in front of the tweeter there is a felt element with a hole only for the diaphragm. The grille is also filled with felt and – frankly speaking – I liked the sound of the speakers better with the grille on. On the midrange and bass work two, parallel connected drivers with a diameter of 178mm each. But this is not a 1:1 connection, because similar to the cheaper model, each one of them is filtered a little differently to compensate different position relative to the listener and make them behave like one big transducer. This is the model 7-375 Hex-B from Eton. Their diaphragms are from a Nomex-Kevlar composite – a woven material from Kevlar fibers embedded in Nomex, very stiff and very light. Similar speakers were in the Ascendant, but there they were differently coated, their surface was different. In the middle, where usually there is a soft dust cap, there is an aluminum cap. The spiders are cast and very solid – special attention was devoted to the spider not obstructing the airflow on the back.

On first sight the Transcendent are bass-reflex type speakers. But there is not port on the front or the back. The output is on the bottom. This allows to control its load, because the distance to the floor will always be the same, regardless of the position of the speakers in the room. Of course it will be important, how far the back wall is, because the plinth of the loudspeaker is made in such a way, that it covers three sides leaving the output to the back. There is one hole (the Ascendant had two). I said, that it resembles a bass-reflex only on first sight, because according to the company it is not a typical bass-reflex port, but a lossy hole – it was not tuned to any specific frequency.

The cabinet has a looks typical for this manufacturer, known in the whole world and copied again and again. This is a diamond shape, here identical to the higher models, with cut five surfaces. This should strengthen the construction and prevent occurring of standing waves. The Transcendent is a “full” version of the shape – the Ascendant had not the lower part of the cabinet cut. Actually the cabinet of the tested loudspeakers resembles very much the model Time – even the grilles are identical, only the shape of the holes cut in the felt is different. The front baffle and the back panel are sloped to the back. The cabinet walls are very thick, and the loudspeaker is enforced in the middle with solid, dense wreath. Most important is the vertical bulkhead, with thick MDF rings glued to it. And there is thick rubber glued to the mentioned rings – it supports the mid-woofers from behind. The signal is supplied to the loudspeakers with thick copper plaid wires – three individual runs are soldered together, to increase the cross-section of the cable. The tweeter, with a solid cast front, was enclosed in a very rigid chamber, made from glued together MDF plates, with a cut hole. The inside of the loudspeaker was closely filled with artificial wool.
On the back we have only singular wire terminals – very good products from Cardas, made for spade connectors. The loudspeakers are perfectly crafted and it is also true for the veneer, with paired styles on the cabinet sides. Full professionalism. For the basic price we can choose from the following veneers: myrtle cluster burl, walnut cluster burl, birds-eye maple. You can also order veneers like: walnut, cherry, maple, but you have to pay much, much more for that, 84000zł. Why such a price difference? This is not caused by the price of the veneer, but rather – as we agreed with one of the Polish loudspeaker manufacturers, who saw the Transcendent at my home, and was enchanted by their craftsmanship – it seems, that the Avalon orders a series of loudspeakers with basic veneer, and each additional one is ordered separately. And with this type of cut cabinet, when we order it from a third party, then it gets expensive.

Loudspeakers are placed on three, sharp cones, but they will sound much better on supports from finite-elemente. Although we increase the distance from the floor, what changes the load on the lossy hole, but this can be handled easily by placing an element between the supports, which will simulate the floor.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Frequency response: 26-25 000Hz
Nominal impedance: 4Ω
Efficiency: 88dB
Recommended amplifier power: 50-500W
Dimensions (WxHxD): 254 x 1050 x 370mm
Weight: 44kg (a piece)

Distribution in Poland:

Audio System

tel.: (0-22) 662-45-99
fax: (0-22) 662-66-74



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  • interkonekty: CD-przedwzmacniacz: Mexcel 7N-DA6300, artykuł TUTAJ, przedwzmacniacz-końcówka mocy: Wireworld Platinum Eclipse.
  • kable głośnikowe: Tara Labs Omega Onyx
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