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Floor standing loudspeakers

Price: 15 000 zł

Manufacturer: Avcon

AVCON | ul. Wierzbowa 2 | 05-870 Błonie | Poland
tel.: +48 22 734 00 56 | tel. kom.: +48 606 917 718


Country of origin: Poland

WWW: Avcon

Text: Marek Dyba
Pictures: AVCON

Company Avcon emerged on Polish market couple of years ago offering few models of loudspeakers. Its owner – Mr Przemysław Nieprzecki – wasn't a newbie to the market as before he had made cabinets for DIY loudspeakers. The present range includes five models of loudspeakers – two monitors and three floorstanders. The relatively new addition to company's portfolio are very nice looking and effectively working acoustic panels. An interesting thing is that Avcon offers two top models of loudspeakers – both with exactly the same price. The first of them - Avalanche Reference Monitors – are really huge monitors that already seem to be become a top seller, plus there are at least two reviewers I know of who use them in their reference systems. I also had a chance to review them myself and came very close to buying them for my system. The only downside of Avalanche Reference Monitors is not the best WAF. Sound is really amazing at this price level but they are so huge that it would be really to convince my lovely wife to put them in the living room. The are top model is herewith reviewed floorstander called Nortes. Trying to find similarities between two top models I might say that both are huge and both sport a ribbon tweeter by Aurum Cantus. Sound signature is quite different though which absolutely justifies having two models at the top of the offer.

So far we tested:

  • floor standing loudspeakers AVCON LEVANTER, review HERE
  • monitors AVON TIVANO, review HERE


Recordings used in test (selection):

  • Etta James, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, Blues in the Night, Vol.1: The Early Show , Fantasy, B000000XDW, CD.
  • Etta James, Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson, The Late Show , Fantasy, B000000XE0, CD.
  • Renaud Garcia-Fons, Arcoluz , ENJ94782, CD.
  • Renaud Garcia-Fons, Oriental bass , Enja, B000005CD8, CD.
  • The Ray Brown Trio, Summer Wind , Concord Jazz, CCD-4426, CD.
  • Ray Brown Trio, Live from New York to Tokyo , Concord Jazz, CCD2-2174-2, CD.
  • Keith Jarret, The Koeln Concert , ECM, 1064/65 ST, LP.
  • Beethoven, Symphonie No. 9 , Deutsche Grammophon, DG 445 503-2, CD.
  • Arne Domnerus, Antiphone blues , Proprius, PRCD 7744, CD.

The first upside of Avalanche Monitors that comes to my mind is how easy they are to drive – they sounded really well already with a 300B SET delivering 8W per channel, and when the output power was just doubled I got a fully satisfactory sound. In other words a tube amplifier delivering just say 15-16W is absolutely enough to fully explore the great potential of these speakers – that was one of things that caught me, as a huge tube fan. But they sounded equally well when hooked up to my Modwright KWA100SE which a solid-state device delivering over 100W per channel. I couldn't say the same thing about my horn speakers (around 100dB sensitivity) that sound great with low power tube amp but horribly with powerful solid-state (and same goes for many other speakers with high sensitivity). So as for Avalanche Reference Monitors – they are surely all-rounders – it does not matter much what kind of, and how powerful amplifier you have which makes them a great choice for many Customers as well as for reviewers. Most of us, audiophiles, suffer from “audiophilia nervosa” that forces us to make changes to our systems once in a while. Once you have Avalanche monitors you may focus on replacing other elements of your system without worrying about speaker's incompatibility. Nortes turned out not to be as easy to drive as Avalanche, even though on paper parameters might suggest otherwise as the nominal impedance is the same (6Ω) and sensitivity too (88dB). My Symphony II (8W) couldn't really handle them although 40W Leben CS-660P did very well. Still, I listened most of the time with more powerful solid-states - Modwright KWA100SE and Stello Ai500. Why? Well, first of all, all Avcon speakers I listened to so far delivered short, taut bass while keeping bass-reflex “booming” almost inaudible. I mentioned that already many times that I really hate this “boomy” sound that comes from most bass-reflexes. So Avcon, saving me that, must have become one of my favorite speakers, but in return I always try to support them with proper amplification that helps to maintain perfect control in bass range and delivers ell extended bass too. I can't deny (and I'm saying that as a tube amps fan) that solid-state amplifiers do better in this regard, at least those on price levels affordable for regular audiophiles (as for example Ayon's Crossfire II is fully capable to deliver solid-state-like bass). Additionally these both s-s amplifiers convey very tube-like midrange – rich, warm, smooth, which makes them my favorites among solid-states. The combination of ss/tube advantages in these amps made them, at least in my eyes, perfect partners for Nortes (at least when I had no proper tube amp on hand like Crossfire, and I had Leben at my disposal only for two days).

Avcon Nortes need listener to invest some time to get to know them, or in fact listener needs time to understand and to get to appreciate the sound of these speakers. Many so-called high-end speakers tend to delude listeners with one or couple of tricks – huge bass, tweaked midrange, gigantic soundstage and so on. And than you can hear from many audiophiles that if there are not caught on to some speakers within 10/20/30 seconds they know it all and don't waste time anymore. I'm not saying that my experience is huge, but it's growing all the time and the more speakers I listen to the more I'm convinced that the real good loudspeakers are usually the ones that don't impress me at first (it applies to the sound of course). Why? Because the really good sound isn't “catchy”, there are no fireworks, it just sounds... right. That's what Nortes do – just deliver whatever system feeds them with and surely first impression wasn't any special. When I saw them in my room I realized how huge they were and were afraid that it might have been a problem, but it wasn't. I let them play for two days to make sure they were “settled in” and started my listening sessions. The first couple of hours just passed quickly – just w nice session without any particular ups or downs. When you think about it that was a first sign that these were good speakers. If there were already some downs it would have troubled me already, but lack of those must have meant that the sound was good, right? Deductive thinking doesn't always work in audio world so all I could do was to keep listening trying to figure this sound out.

Someone who would buy such a big floorstanders (without listening them first) would surely expect huge, powerful bass. I'd say even more – probably that person would be a fan of some heavy music. On second thought he might just have a big listening room. Anyway, as already mentioned, when I saw them in my room (24m2 and around 3m high) I thought I would spend a lot of time fighting overwhelming, boomy bass. But obviously, luckily for me, Mr Przemysław Nieprzecki has his own philosophy of a bass presentation and the size of loudspeakers doesn't matter.

Bass has to be well extended (I mean really deep in the top range speakers – down to 30Hz), should be taut, dynamic, very energetic, but even in such a big ones like Nortes the volume of low range shouldn't be exaggerated. Sure “exaggerated” is a relative term – for me there was just the right amount of bass (like in all other Avcons I listened to). From my experience every designer has to deal with some sort of compromise when dealing with anything less than top-high-end. In fact when it comes to bass range they usually do everything possible to fulfill most customers expectation which means “as much as possible, as low as possible”. But it does come for free – compromise is usually about the speed, about how well differentiated and articulated this bass is. As long as it is exactly what many customers require – it's fine with me, who am I to blame them. But I simply prefer the Avcon way – one doesn't get that much bass, but it's fast, taut, very well differentiated and articulated while still well extended, although one might say it lacks just a notch of energy in the very low end. This way of presentation offers additional bonus – instruments seem to be delivered with their original size – one won't get 4 meters tall double bass or a truck size piano. If you won't to hear that for yourself just play for example some solo piano performance – how about Keith Jarret from Concert in Koeln. Soundstage Nortes build is again just right – not oversized, just as large one want to “see” when listening to this concert. The picture has a proper scale and is very palpable – one could simply “see” murmuring artist and his instrument. Both in real life size, both sounding like there were there in my room, all details smoothly conveyed to my ears, and this crowd around me enjoying this magical music as much as I did. Just one wonderful listening experience.

As with almost any test I couldn't miss opportunity to play recordings of my favorite bassists - Ray Brown and Renaud Garcia Fons (a short digression – recently I started to use same recordings for almost every test – it might get annoying in time but should give me better perspective when comparing different audio devices). If you go frequently to live concerts you might have realized that double bass can sound quite different depending on circumstances. Couple of years ago I went to Oregon concert in Warsaw and even thought I really enjoyed it as a whole I still can't forget how bad a double-bass sounded. This example is fortunately a rare one of bass sounding bad. Usually differences are more about different proportions in sound between strings and wood. I really enjoy a lot of wood – after all that's why its soundboard is so big. Nortes shifted the balance slightly from soundboard to the strings. I guess it comes from two things – that rather short, taut bass and secondly from this tiny decrease of energy in the lowest tones. That probably makes string to take over while soundboard gets pushed bit back behind them. Which brings us back to the beginning – there was not so much wood in sound as I was used to hear. I couldn't say that it was a bad thing – double bass sounded just... different – more dynamic, faster, I think particular sounds were slightly better differentiated, and the only downside (from my point of view) was less wood in sound. I couldn't honestly say I didn't like this sound. Avalanche sounded similar although thanks to a bigger woofer bass sounded even more relaxed and unforced, but on the other hand it wasn't so taut and so fast. It's a kind of trade-off – even on this company's top level – but it also proves that having two different sounding top models makes sense. Two great performers and the customers get to chose which one he prefers.

OK, but it's not all about bass range. Midrange is rich, colorful, palpable which makes all kinds of vocal recordings very convincing and involving. I just couldn't refuse myself a pleasure of another session with incredible Etta James. And even though this time (comparing with my sessions involving Ayon amplifiers last month) the whole presentation was a bit... colder, it didn't make it less involving. The voice of this one of a king great lady of blues and soul was filled with emotions, bursting with energy, but all that delivered in more precise although maybe less spontaneous way. Still the tangibility of the presentation was impressive (especially considering solid-state amplification), although there seemed to be slight emphasis on everything that was going on in the front of the soundstage. This last impression could come from particular loudspeakers setup in the room – I mean they might have need more space around them than I could have granted to them (and it was not only about distances from the walls but also distance between speakers and my listening point). Of course it depends also on the recordings themselves. The Etta James ones put some emphasis themselves on the vocalist and things happening around her, and less on the rest of the ensemble. So I couldn't really blame much the speakers or their positioning in the room. Especially that when it came to some orchestral recordings I couldn't complain any more – I could easily hear all the details, listen to any group of instruments regardless their positioning within orchestra or just listen to the sound as a whole. These recordings showed how revealing and coherent the sound of Nortes was. Yes, Hansen Prince V2 relayed the power of the orchestra better but simple comparison of prices of these two sets tells us why.

For quite some time now I've been a fan of ribbon tweeters – despite their rather directional sound that makes positioning of speakers in a room crucial, plus the “sweet spot's” importance becomes even greater. But it is worth all the effort – ribbon tweeters, properly applied are my favorites, period. Nortes is a great example of brilliant application of Aurum Cantus ribbon tweeter. There is so much openness and air in the sound, remarkable differentiation, smoothness, and surely no harshness, roughness of any kind. Sure if there were sibilants in woman voice they were presented but never emphasized – it sounded just natural, just like in live concert when you hear them but they bother you (unless amplified by equipment). Percussion cymbals were amazingly vibrant, crispy and well differentiated. Well, maybe there were some soft edges in the very top treble but it only made treble better fitted to the rest of frequency range, it made it more coherent and more natural sounding.

Now, after the full circle I can go to the beginning. I started with sharing that I wasn't particularly impressed at first, and I wasn't because Nortes sounded just... right. No fireworks, no downsides making ears ache. Those soft edges in the top treble make sibilants or other potentially annoying sound elements fully acceptable, and the bit less energy in the very low end might come from less strained bass-reflex usage that makes it almost not “boomy” at all. Purists might say these are downsides of Nortes, but I think it was a conscious choice of their designer who wanted to achieve particular sound. Most of music fans, if only given a chance, will come around and thank him sooner or later for making such choices. Because Nortes can offer them hours of tireless, enjoyable listening regardless of your musical preferences. OK, maybe with the exception of heavy metal (or heavy metal related) fans – they will probably choose different speakers.


Avcon Nortes is a large, three-way loudspeaker. Rear vented cabinet is made of 25mm thick MDF. Front panel is twice as thick (50mm) to ensure more rigid base for three drivers. External surfaces of the cabinet are covered by natural veneer finished with semi-gloss varnish. Big weight and rigid structure enforced with internal brackets make cabinet insensitive for vibrations coming from 20cm woofer. Midrange driver and tweeter are installed in separated chamber with internally sloped walls for standing waves elimination and isolation from woofer impact. All drivers come from Aurum Cantus. The 20 cm woofer and 13cm midrange drivers come with hard membrane made of carbon and Kevlar fibers. Treble is reproduced by a very large ribbon tweeter also from Aurum Cantus. On the back panel one will find very solid double terminals accepting naked cables, bananas or spades. The included Soundcare Spikes used instead of regular spikes are a very nice bonus. Crossover, as usually in Avcon products, is quite well hidden so I couldn't take a closer look, but according to the manufacturer only high quality elements were used.

Technical data (according to the manufacturer):
Frequency range: 30Hz - 40kHz
Impedance: 6Ohm
Nominal power: 150W
Efficiency: 88dB
Dimensions: 25/40/110cm
Weight : 47 kg / piece

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Reference system: