pl | en
Argon 1

Price (in Poland): 5890 zł

Manufacturer: Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd.

Vitostie 1864, 70800 Kuopio, Finland

Manufacturer's website:

Country of origin: Finland

Speakers delivered for review by:
Moje Audio
Text: Marek Dyba
Photos: Bartosz Łuczak/Piksel Studio

Published: 1. September 2012, No. 100

Although the biggest model of Amphion speakers (Krypton) is quit a huge beast, most of their models are rather small. I had a chance to take a look at the production site for cabinets, and of speakers themselves (you can find a report of my trip to Finland here), and what I remembered mostly were bigger and smaller monitors, which might suggest these were core products for Amphion. Surely no manufacturer is really willing to share exact numbers of sales per model, but from our conversations with Amphion guys I gathered that it might have been a fact that monitors kept a significant share of their production and sales.
Anyone who had a chance to visit Finland surely noticed that on one hand we all might envy them wonders of their beautiful nature, but on the other it would also be quite clear to you that this country is not as rich as it's Scandinavian neighbors. That's why Finns seem to have a very practical approach to most domains of their lives and they demonstrate some kind of unwillingness to spend a lot of money when it is not really needed which includes audio equipment. As I was told by both Anssi Hyvönen (Owner of Amphion), and Mr Marek Zakowski (who runs biggest audio shop in Helsinki) the high-end market doesn't really exist in Finland. That's why Amphion sells most Krypton speakers abroad, and in their own country mostly monitors (for two reasons – these are usually less expensive than floorstanders, plus most Finns need speakers that sound good in not so big rooms, and that don't take too much space themselves). All that information should make it clear why the first product I received for a test was an Argon1 – small, two-way monitor measuring only 310x160x265 mm, that already wowed many audiophiles (and not only audiophiles) around the world. As I mentioned not only audiophiles, as those speakers are favorites of many interior decorators – they are compact, easy to place (sound well even placed almost against the wall) and last but not least they look great, they look very modern so are a nice addition even to some sophisticated interior designs. The WAF is also very high, so as long as the sound suits you fine the rest of the family should be happy with those speakers too and that's a huge advantage.


A selection of recordings used for the review:

  • Renaud Garcia-Fons, Oriental bass, Enja, B000005CD8, CD.
  • Patricia Barber, Companion, Blue Note/Premonition, 7243 5 22963 2 3, CD/FLAC.
  • Eva Cassidy, Imagine, HOT, G2-10075, CD/FLAC.
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella & Louis Again, Verve, 1069188, CD/FLAC.
  • Dead Can Dance, Spiritchaser, 4AD/Mobile Fidelity, MOFI 2-002, 180 g LP.
  • The Oscar Peterson Trio, Night train; VERVE/ORG, ORG 029, 180 g LP.
  • Możdżer Danielsson Fresco, The time, Outside Music, OM CD001, CD/FLAC.
  • Arne Domnerus, Jazz at the Pawnshop, Proprius, ATR 003, LP.
  • Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Friday Night in San Francisco, Philips, 6302137, LP.
  • Paco Pena, Arte y passion, Nimbus Records NI 5602/3, CD/FLAC.
  • Keith Jarrett, The Köln Concert, ECM/Universal Music Japan, UCCE-9011, CD/FLAC.
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, 11:11, EMI Music Poland, 5651702, CD/FLAC.
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM UHD 045, CD/FLAC.
  • Isao Suzuki, Blow up, Three Blind Mice, B000682FAE, CD/FLAC.
  • The Ray Brown Trio, Live at the Loa, Summer Wind, Concord Jazz, CCD-4426, CD/FLAC.
  • Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain, Columbia Stereo, PC8271, LP.
  • Muddy Waters, Folk Singer, MFSL-1-201, LP.
  • John Lee Hooker The best of friends, pointblank, 7243 8 46424 26 VPBCD49, CD/FLAC.
Japanese editions are available from

There are always two sides to every story. Meeting people behind particular audio product is a great educational experience. Seeing their passion for what they do, listening to stories of what and how they do, seeing how the product is actually done – all that is great. But when it comes to reviewing such a product later a reviewer (or maybe it's just me?) has one problem – he still remembers what he was told regarding this product by it's creators. As long as these are just design details it's OK, but than he might also remember that this is a „natural sounding speaker, offering very relaxed, unfatiguing sound, making you feel better in your own home, etc., etc.”, because it was repeated so many times, that it seems curved in reviewer's brain. Anyway it worked on me - „natural sound” is a phrase that I shall associate with Amphion for the rest of my days, probably... . So what I needed to do before conducting this review was to reset my mind, my memory, to be able to be objective when evaluating Finnish monitors. And I believe I managed to do so even if the final conclusion of this review might suggest otherwise...

There are few „obligatory” attributes that every decent standmount speaker shows. One – such small speakers disappear from the room (which is much more difficult for floorstanders), leaving listeners with pure music present in the listening room. Secondly floorstanders usually can't measure up to the holographic images projected by good monitors – the later offer wonderful depth, palpable three dimensionality (provided one uses also decent recordings). And last but not least monitors (especially small ones like Argon1) are not able to reproduce bass extension, as many floorstanders are. These are three most obvious attributes of (almost) all monitors so one one hand I could leave them out of this review as they are obvious, but on the other if I did you might think that these speakers were somehow different from all others, while in fact they weren't (when it comes to these particular 3 attributes). They do disappear from the room perfectly, create wonderful stereo images with holographic precision. As for the volume of bass, as always, it depends on the size of the room and on the placement of the speakers in the room, but of course you'll never get the lowest end out of them. According to Manufacturer Argon1 offer bass extension to 45Hz, at -3dB, which is a reasonable achievement considering the size of those speakers. It seems that these speakers are best fit to play in rooms of maybe 12-18 sqm. My place (24sqm, more than 3m high) was not a perfect match for them, so I couldn't get too much bass, but I also did not expect too much considering size of the speakers. Plus usually if you use monitors it is not for their thunderous bass, is it? The lack of lowest bass wasn't really very painful especially that I liked bass differentiation offered by Argon1, which allowed me to enjoy for example Ray Brown's bass on Overseas special even if it didn't go as deep as I knew it did in the recording. Realizing some limitation to the bass extension I truly appreciated the speed and good differentiation of a taut bass. When it comes to a bass I do care about its power, but I care more about its tone, about presentation of amazingly wide range of sounds it can make (which also means these have to be very well differentiated) and Amphion speakers allowed me to enjoy Ray Brown's mastery almost to full extend (almost since the lowest notes were missing). The other elements that I find a must in bass presentation is delivering not only strings but also a „wood”, that is so important in process of creating the final sound of this instrument. There must be a proper balance between those two elements of bass sound, and if there is I will accept easily even some other minor downsides of the presentation and happily enjoy performances of aforementioned Ray Brown, or Renaud Garcia-Fons, or great Isao Suzuki even if the bass doesn't go deep down there to the gates of hell, as it actually might.

It is quite interesting that I started a review of monitors with impressions of bass..., so let's leave it for now and start from the very beginning. And at the very beginning I placed monitors on stands, and stands more or less where I usually place most speakers, in kind of „starting point” - that's maybe 60-70cm from the back wall, and much more further away from side walls. I sit around 2,8-3m from speakers. That's how I placed Argon1 at the very beginning and tried to listen to them for the first day, wondering why the sound was so different (worse to be precise) from what I remembered from listening sessions in Finland. Sound lacked energy, was a bit dull (that mostly concerned treble), and … got lost in the room somewhere between me and the speakers, so there was no proper soundstage, no clear 3D images. It was in fact still something I would call a correct sound (I used some exaggeration before to show that I was disappointed in what I heard) but far from what I expected. I simply knew that they could offer so much more. So next I tried to create a bit more friendly conditions for them by moving them much closer to my listening place. The three of us (2 speakers and me) made now an equilateral triangle with each side of more or less 1,8m. I toed them in also so that the axes crossed in front of me. The difference in terms of sound quality was significant, and obviously positive. That proved also clearly that smaller rooms than mine would be a much better fit for these monitors, because only than Argon1 start to prove their value. And they can really shine. There are tones of positive things I could write about what they offer but still the most important one is... a very natural sound. Yup, that takes us to the very beginning of this text, to something repeated like a mantra by Amphion guys. It's like their pitch line but the point is that pitch line comes from facts, and is not just a marketing slogan. We could discuss separately all parts of frequency range, about different aspects of the sound and so on, but sooner or later we would come to a conclusion saying that Finish speakers offer coherent, natural, realistic sound, period. Wait a second you might say! Realistic sound? They can't offer a realistic sound when it comes to organic music, or trash-metal because these are not true full-range speakers. Well, that's true.

Monitors of that size are unable to reproduce lowest notes no matter what (even though some manufacturers using some tricks will try to convince you otherwise offering nicely extended but quite unnatural sounding bass). But when I say „natural sound” I mean first of all that voices and acoustic instruments sound realistic. Why? Because is there really something you might call a natural sound of electric or electronic instruments? Their sound depends on the devices they are plugged in, and those „devices” can make guitar sound like a piano or other way around. So, in my opinion of course, it's hard to talk about „natural” sound of electric guitar, or keyboard. But you can when it comes to human voices or acoustic instruments. Each and everyone of us, audiophile or not, knows the sound of human voices very well as we hear them everyday. So most people don't have any trouble distinguishing human voice from one coming from some voice simulator. I might say the same about acoustic instrument – all people attending some live concerts with acoustic instruments involved know their sound (even though sonic signature might differ from one instrument to the other) so when listening on speakers they can also say whether the sound is natural or not.

I truly enjoyed listening to many recordings of classical and acoustic guitars. Starting with famous concert of three guitar maestros in San Francisco and ending with some Paco Pena's flamenco. Just to make sure that the sound was natural, I mean for real not just in my head because of Anssi's influence, I took out my own, old guitar. Not that I can play very well, but doing my best just to check how different a guitar from speakers sounds comparing to „live” guitar, simply does the trick. And it was so close, that I could finally be sure it was an objective assessment There were strings playing, there was „wood” adding its part, all in correct, well balanced proportions, giving the guitar proper weight, proper tone, depth and so on. I like to use Friday night in San Francisco as a test recording because there are (in some pieces) three guitars playing quite close to each other, so listening to it helps to assess how precise is the soundstage and how selective sound gets. When pointing out which guitarist sits where, and following any of them any time come easy, it means that system does well in terms of selectivity and spacing. Finnish little buddies proved themselves in these regards offering me a great time and real enjoyment
I could write exactly the same about jazz performed by, aforementioned Ray Brown Trio, Arne Domnerus band, or some „classics” including great Miles Davis or John Coltrane. I told you already before about the sound of bass so now few words about brass and woodwind instruments. Like Miles'es trumpet or Coltrane's saxophone – rich, vibrant, vivid with lots of small details – musician's breathing, manual work, vibrating air, etc., etc. – all delivered in quite distinct, fluid, coherent and... oh yes, natural way. I enjoyed listening to such music via Amphions a lot. Sure, I know many loudspeakers capable of a better performance, but also costing much more. Argon1 are mid-priced, small monitors and offer a very good sound for one, and a great price/performance ratio for two and that's not so common combination.

Argon1 perform really well in terms of a rhythm. Because of it combined with energetic, fast, taut bass I spent a lot of time with electric blues recordings of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and others. That's what this kind of music is mostly about – rhythm, melody, pace, you need to feel not just listen to it, feet tapping is obligatory if such music is properly performed and reproduced. That's exactly what happened to me when listening to blues via Argon1. As you already might have figured out I focused mostly on guitar blues because electric guitars sounded really well, almost as good as acoustic ones. This time it wasn't about „natural sound” (I explained before why) but about conveying each guitarist's amazing skills and proprietary style of playing. It seemed like that did cause any trouble at all to Finnish speakers, which performed this task effortlessly. Whether it was the most moving Clapton's guitar, or the most raw Hooker's – each sounded very convincing, very real, authentic, there was feeling in the sound of each of them, there was ... blues. Live performances benefited from nice, three-dimensional soundstage, with proper depth, width and height (!). Maybe bit more precision in 3D imaging of each sound source would be appreciated but still a very good selectivity of the presentation allowed me to follow any chosen instrument without much effort even if its edges were not so precisely drawn in the space.

If I had no choice but to point out some downside of these speakers it would be a treble. Not that it's really a weakness of these speakers but comparing to a very good, smooth, revealing, rich midrange and energetic, taut, even though not fully extended, bass with good rhythm and timing treble is this part of the range that you might find a bit less impressive. As one of my first impressions I described the sound as a bit dull. When I found a better placement for those speakers treble became much better, sparkling, vibrant, definitely more open. But after a while I realized that the sound was not that vibrant, crisp, that the ambiance of the recordings wasn't shown in such a great way as it was by my good, old AE 1 ref II monitors, I had couple of years ago. The high tones coming from, say, cymbals need some natural shine, crispness – that makes sound vivid and brings performance much closer to live music. Cymbals delivered by Argon1 were not bad, not bad at all. But when listening to my favorite recording of Krzysztof Herdzin Trio, the sound of cymbals didn't catch my ears as distinctly, as easily as it usually did. It was still fine but not as impressive as usually.

I assume that by now you also know what the main advantage of these speakers (most of Amphion speakers in fact) is? Yes, they all offer natural sound. If we add this up to information that Argon1 are nice all-rounders that we can use in stereo systems, in home theater systems and even in desktop systems (although small Helium or Ion models might serve the latter purpose even better) we shall get to conclusion that midrange must have been a priority for their creators. And it surely is. If you think about it very strong, crisp, vibrant treble could „interfere” (not the best word here but you probably know what I mean) with the „naturalness” of the presentation. I never asked Anssi, if that was really his intention when designing those speakers, but I would bet it was a conscious choice. Very strong, vibrant treble means often a risk or some harshness and/or sibilants especially when listening to not so perfect recordings, while Amphions are supposed to „create a friendly environment in one's home”. So it's save to assume it was never intended to be a ruthless studio monitor, that would reveal every single, tiniest weakness of each recording, but rather a speaker still revealing, still with amazingly resolution in the midrange but with not so sharp, no so revealing (as the midrange) both extremes. I would say that guys from Amphion found a very good balance – treble might not be the most impressive one I've ever heard but it's not really rolled-off, nor rounded. It seems that both extremes are serving supplementary role to the midrange and thus we get a coherent, even, really fun to listen presentation. Obviously it's not a budget speaker from most Polish audiophiles perspective, but if you happen to have a small room and still want to have a high quality sound you need to look for some monitors. If you have a small room and the only possible placement for speakers is against the wall than your choice is even smaller, as not all monitors sound well when placed near the back wall. In my case I had to place Argon1 far away from the wall to create them „friendly environment” in definitely too big room. But I had a chance to listen to them also in a small room, placed close to the rear wall and they delivered also very good performance. Anyway, as always, I suggest that if you find this product interesting you should listen to it yourself because all speakers have to „blend in” to particular system in particular room to offer their very best performance. If you are looking for very nice looking and sounding monitors to a small room, and the price is at least near you assumed budget, you definitely should give Argon1 a chance.


Amphion Argon1 is a small, 2-way, vented standmount speaker. It sports a 25mm titanium tweeter, and a 90mm aluminum mid- low woofer. A very characteristic feature of these speakers is the large waveguide that surrounds the tweeter and matches the diameter of the bass/mid drive unit. The prime purpose is to control the tweeter’s directivity, and another upside should be time alignment that results from locating the tweeter down within the waveguide and well behind the front panel, which should help place the two voice coils the same distance from the listeners without the need to tilt front panel of a speaker. There are no complete grilles covering both drivers, but as both drive units have metal diaphragms which are quite fragile these are protected by discreet fixed open- mesh metal grilles. A modest bass-reflex port in placed on the back panel and it may be blocked by the supplied foam bungs if the speakers are placed close to a wall. Signal is applied to a single terminal pair. Like most Amphion speakers also Argon1 have impedance of 8Ω, and quite low sensitivity, in this case of 86dB, which makes them not the easiest load for amplifiers. Amphion likes to present inexpensive systems with their small monitors and NuForce products which might be a clue if you want to build such system. Speakers are very nicely build and finished – cabinets are made in a very modern facility after all with precise CNC machines, plus are painted also in a brand new, also very modern painting facility. There are few color versions you may chose from including some natural veneers and, very popular nowadays, black and white finish. You might get the idea checking several pictures of real Amphion speakers placements here.

Technical date (according to the Manufacturer):

Operating principle: 2-way, vented
Tweeter: 1" titanium
Mid/woofer: 5,25" aluminum
Crossover point: 1600 Hz
Impedance: 8 Ω
Sensitivity: 86 dB
Frequency response: 45 - 20 000 Hz +/-3dB
Power recommendation: 20 - 150 W
Dimensions (h x w x d): 310 x 160 x 265 mm
Weight: 8 Kg
Color: black, white, full white and veneer wood cherry, birch and walnut