pl | en

Loudspeakers | floor-standing


Manufacturer: AVCON
Price (in Poland): 25 000 PLN/pair

ul. Wierzbowa 2
05-870 Błonie | POLAND


Provided for test by: AVCON


vcon, a company founded and led by Przemysław Nieprzecki, came out of the DIY world. In 2008, it was a bold move, because Europe was in the midst of one of the biggest financial crises after the World War II. As it turned out - diligence and stubbornness paid off, and today, twenty-one years later, Avcon is one of the most important Polish loudspeakers manufacturers. Actually they make not only loudspeakers but also acoustic panels that significantly contributed to company's success.

The first Avcon loudspeaker I tested in 2009 was the Tivano model (HF | No. 65). The medium-sized bookshelf loudspeakers, featuring the Aurum Cantus AC165 / 50CK low-midrange woofer, already had the distinctive feature of this brand: a ribbon tweeter, which in various forms can be found in all loudspeakers made by Avcon to this day. Back then it was a ribbon driver of the Serbian company RAAL 70-10.

The Avcon current range includes only two speaker models, only slightly different in price: the Avalanche Reference Monitor - a large, solid monitor on a small stand, and Nortes - now in the Mk3 version. Nortes was originally a large three-way floor-standing loudspeaker with a bass-reflex cabinet made of veneered MDF panels. The bass-reflex port was placed on the rear of the speaker. All drivers came from the Chinese company Aurum Cantus; it was the only model with a classic tweeter - a silk dome.

We tested their second version in September 2011 (HF | No. 89). The main changes were made in the treble section. Instead of the previously used silk dome, a ribbon driver with a very large surface was used. It allowed the designer to set a lower crossover frequency between the midrange driver and the tweeter at 2 kHz. The lower midrange subrange was played by a similar 130 mm Aurum Cantus driver with a rigid membrane made of Kevlar and carbon fibers. Also the a 200 mm woofer was sourced from the same manufacturer.

Owner, designer

For Nortes Mk3 we decided to use an Aurum Cantus ribbon tweeter and two woofers from the Excel series of the Norwegian SEAS – a 150mm midrange driver and a 260mm bass woofer. Both drivers feature similar paper membranes reinforced with Nextel coating.

The midrange driver is uses a neodymium magnet in a six-pole system (Hexadym). Instead of one circular magnet, the magnetic field is produced by six magnets placed around the coil. Such an array results in very small dimensions, which does not cause the wave from the back side of the membrane to reflect from it, i.e. it does not disturb its motion.

Generally speaking, these are speakers that are designed to minimize distortions that typically occurs at the both frequency range extremes. This allows us to use lower order filters. In this case, the crossover frequencies are around 200 and 3000 Hz. The woofer is not tuned extremely low, but like in the case of the ARM (Avalanche Reference Monitor) when developing this model I focused on speed and clarity rather than on a maximum bass extension.

The cabinet is made of twelve layers of plywood, each layer is cut on a CNC machine, in the whole system there are no two identical forms. The forms were cut in such way to create a separate chamber for the midrange woofer and tweeter. Most of the internal volume is taken by a low-frequency unit. The crossover for midrange and woofer is also placed there. The crossover for the ribbon is located in its chamber.

| Nortes Mk3

The latest version, launched in 2017, is a completely new design. From the previous design only the overall driver layout – a three-way - and the housing type: bass-reflex, remained. And - of course - a ribbon driver for treble. However, there are more changes than that. The midrange and bass woofers feature paper membranes with Nextel coating and metal phase correctors placed in their centers. The tweeter is still a ribbon, but much shorter one than before; it comes from Aurum Cantus, while midrange and low-frequency woofers are SEAS Excel series drivers (ø 150 and 260 mm).

The cabinet has also changed profoundly. You can see at once that its shape is more oblong, but more importantly, it is made not from MDF, and the so-called "forms" made of plywood. The form in technical terms is "a few pieces of veneer forming a sheet with required dimensions" (Polish Language Dictionary PWN). Most cabinets are made by gluing together pieces of material at the edges, thus creating a kind of a box. A cabinet can be made of MDF, plywood, solid wood, metal, resin-based composites and even natural stone.

In this case, there are twelve sheets of plywood milled from on the inside on CNC machines and glued together using a hydraulic press - in the system there are no two identical elements. This creates an extremely rigid structure, while maintaining the character of the wood. This is why the side walls have an unusual surface, which we know, for example, from the Finnish Penaudio products. The Swiss company Boenicke Audio makes their cabinets in a similar, though not the same, way.

The gold-plated speaker terminals are mounted on a metal plate, the high-quality components were used in the crossover - air coils and polypropylene capacitors - and the loudspeakers are supported not by commonly used spikes, but on the Tablette feet by Franc Audio Accessories. All these elements could be found already in the Mk2 version, although this version featured Soundcare feet. These are large, nicely made, well-thought-through loudspeakers.

Nortes Mk3 replaced my Harbeth M40.1 in their usual spots. Their axes were pointing slightly ahead of the listening position - in my room it is usually the best way to obtain a compact, deep sound stage.

One should also mind the height of where the ears are in relation to the medium-high frequency module. The point is that the ears should be at least at level of the midrange driver, preferably between it and the high frequency ribbon. The precision of localization and differentiation of tones are then optimal.

AVCON in „High Fidelity”
  • TEST: Avcon NORTES Mk2 | loudspeakers / floor-standing
  • TEST: Avcon LEVANTER | loudspeakers / floor-standing
  • TEST: Avcon TIVANO | loudspeakers | bookshelf

  • Recordings used for the test (a selection)

    • Chet Baker, Baker’s Holiday, Limelight Records/Verve Records SUHD 00960, Test Pressing SACD/CD (1965/2004)
    • Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, My Foolish Heart, ECM Records 2021/22, 2 x CD (2007)
    • Mario Suzuki, Masterpiece II: Touching Folklore Music, Master Music XRCD24-NT021, XRCD24 (2018)
    • Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells, Mercury Records/Universal Music LLC (Japan) UICY-40016, Platinum SHM-CD (1973/2013)
    • OMD, English Electric, 100% Records/Sony Music Japan SICP-3810, CD (2013);

    Japanese issues available at

    Nortes Mk3 offer a large, open, unrestricted sound. In this presentation I did not find this feature that is often bothering me even with very expensive speakers, namely some kind of internal tension in the sound, sort of numbness that results from either dynamics attenuation in the crossover, or cabinets that are too heavily dampened. It beautifully conveyed the Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. The SHM-CD version is excellent in showing the shifts of dynamics, in opening up to anything unexpected.

    But it is also very "raw" in the sense, that it did not try to smooth out and warm up anything that had its origins in an analogue tape - first a multi-track, then a stereo master. And such a tape does not really sound "analogue" in a commonly accepted sense. Much closer to this "analogue" type of sound are DSD files, even those made of analogue tape. The tape usually sounds quite clearly and even bright. But it also has unbelievable momentum and the lack of internal "strings" that would constrain anything.

    The Nortes speakers showed this feature of the Oldfield album right away, I did not have to look for it, which is a good indicator of how open they sound and of lack of dynamic constraints. They also showed something else - the space they render does not belong to the "copy and paste" category, where there are designated boundaries and outlines drawn with thick lines. It's delivering bigger chunks of space, rather cohesive not separated.

    The credit for how open and unrestricted the sound of the tested loudspeakers is is due to the fact that they do not try to sweeten or warm up the upper midrange. What is the most annoying feature of audio products? - As for me, it is a screaming midrange and an exaggerated treble. What's the easiest way to avoid such issues? - Just withdraw part of the midrange and round it up. That's a shortcut that was not used in this case. Nortes are open, but pleasant to listen to. They are simply well balanced,, they sound “fresh”.

    The balance I'm talking about applies to the whole band. The tweeter ribbon always raises suspicions in me, because it's easy, too easy for designers to get carried away in the pursuit of the maximum accuracy of this part of the band, while forgetting that it should just complement the midrange. Thus, caricatures sounding speakers with beautiful, real sounding cymbals are build, which in no way combine with everything playing in lower part of the band. Such speakers present cymbals and the rest of the band. And a boomy bass.

    Listen to the Avcon Nortes Mk3 loudspeakers, and you will find out, how this can be done to take advantage of the ribbon tweeter and large cabinet and not get trapped in focusing on a few selected sonic features. The tested speakers are very coherent, smooth, sound in a cheerful, pleasant way, that put me in a party mood.

    It is a presentation without clear outlines, and the listener receives a large, in some way "ready" musical picture. Tone and dynamic differentiations are good, but they are not used as a an excuse for disregarding some other sound qualities. Same goes for the resolution and selectivity - identical twins, leading a similar but separate life. At first glance, Nortes Mk3 do not try to explain all the intricacies of the sound, rather try to set a hierarchy of importance so that the presentation as such, as a whole, is most important. Only after getting used to this sound, one begins to distinguish between layers, tones, and dynamic shifts.

    I mentioned the bass range - and it's not a coincidence. These are loudspeakers that use large cabinet as means to achieve a goal, not as a goal itself. Low bass is used to present a large scale sound - a really big volume, size of the instruments, to free the dynamics. It does not seem to go down very low, and that's because it is not being pushed hard to achieve maximum extension. As if the designer did try to attract listener's attention to it. That's why the opening of the sound I've been talking about from the beginning is so fantastic and makes such a big impression.

    You should not have any problems with these loudspeakers, regardless of the type of recording. Both the aforementioned Oldfield and the fantastic Chet Baker from the SACD test disc, and OMD from the heavily compressed, rather hard English Electric - they all sounded smoothly and pleasantly. I did not have the impression that I had to choose between better and worse recordings. Their distinction was not difficult, but it did not affect my choices basing on recording quality - it depended only on the music.


    Open, joyful presentation that does not discriminate anything - this is how you could describe these speakers in a nutshell. Their presentation is big, dynamic. The band's extremes complement the open midrange and do not compete with it, which is surprisingly common when similar means are used for other loudspeakers. The make and finish is very nice, and the speakers will be a strong accent in any room, even in the natural color of the plywood. The finish version we received for the test will cause them to be the most important accent of the room and perhaps the most important element of the system.

    Technical specifications (according to manufacturer):

    Frequency range: 30 Hz – 40 kHz
    Impedance: 6 Ω
    Nominal power: 150 W
    Sensitivity: 88 dB
    Dimensions: 360 x 350 x 1170 mm
    Weight: 50 kg/pc.



    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE

    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE

    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE

    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE

    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA

    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m); wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4

    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One