Pros: Very attractive low priced performer.
Cons: Somewhat unbalanced between highs and lows. This condition may be solved with bi-amplification.
TRIVIA...What do Acoustic Research, KLH,Cambridge Soundworks and Advent all have in common?
ANSWER...They were all founded by Henry Kloss! Yes, Henry- GOD REST HIS SOUL brought you and I fantastic loudspeakers that hardly drained our meager and humble wallets.
Inventor of the acoustic suspension speaker system, MR. Kloss created the AR3. This speaker extended bass all the way down to 20Hz in a relatively compact 2 foot high enclosure. The system, though quite popular in its day was noticeably lacking in the upper registers. Thus exit Henry and enter Edgar Vilchur to invent the dome tweeter and fully extend the AR's highs out to 20KHz thus producing the highly acclaimed AR3a.
Meanwhile Henry was forming KLH and went on to introduce the MODEL 5 which gained critical acclaim from Consumer Guide magazine. Shortly thereafter Henry formed Advent and Edgar founded EPI with Winslow Burhoe. Edgar [not satisfied wih his dome tweeter] invented the air spring tweeter and Winslow concentrated on bass linearity from his famous six inch woofers...smaller than what the then audiophile was accustomed to!
When Kloss started his work at Advent, his intent was to bring sound rivaling "the best" to people with small budgets and BIG EARS! At first, he felt he could come surprisingly close to accomplishing this tremendous feat. In fact as time went on he and apprentice Andy Petite[not the Yankee pitcher but of Boston Acoustics fame] found indeed that they could surpass or better the competition with the introduction of the very full-range Larger Advent Loudspeaker and then the Smaller Advent Loudspeaker which stormed the audio world receiving acclaims galore! PRICE=$119 ea. for the former and $69 ea. for the latter. remarkable!!!! Not to mention the ever-affordable outstanding Baby Advent!!
Shortly afterward Henry formed Cambridge Soundworks and I don't have to tell you about the quality systems coming out of that great company. You probably know them better than I! Recently Henry Kloss left this good earth and a legacy along with it....After setting up Advent's latest speaker entry in my home and purchasing the beauties from my favorite Costco store it was time to see if Henry's influences were still alive with the company. After some serious auditioning I can heartily state that some of them are! PRICE=$162 Pr.
The Advent AS2 speakers are 2-way towers with two 5 1/2" woofers and a 1" silk dome tweeter in each enclosure which stands considerably high at about three feet and very slim at only 8" wide!! Each enclosure is ported as Advent too has abandoned the acoustic suspension principle to gain some efficiency and bass fullness. Each enclosure is beautifully finished in black[although I would have preferred oak] and an off-black grill.
I setup the two speakers in my humble computer room that measures approximately 10' x 20' with the stereo components on the short wall with the towers to the outside corners six feet apart projecting sound long-wise. I kept them six inches from the back wall.The main part of my listening tests were done in the stereo mode as I do not particularly care for surround sound when auditioning loudspeakers. The amplifier used was the Parasound CA-250 integrated amp which puts out a minimum of 50W/ch. and with its high current capability even more when the source beckons for it! Various familiar CD's covering all kinds of music and voice were used.
Before I even get started with the results , I would just like to say that what immediately struck me about the AS2 was its ease of placement and installation! Audiophile hd binding posts/banana plugs [5-way] for wire connection and solid "Tip Toe" screw type feet give this speaker system an audiophile feel before you even hear them!! There are jumper clips between the individual binding posts for the woofers and tweeters respectively. Once removed...These speakers can easily be bi-amplified!!!
The main CD I used for my tests is a splendid recording of soft Irish music with ambient water sounds in the background. The CD is entitled "Atmospheres" by 'Celtic Voices'. Don't be be fooled by the title as there is backup by an ensemble of various instruments including flutes, strings, oboes , basses and tympani/tom-toms. There are plenty of dynamics and the disc does a great job of revealing accuracy of musical timbre.
The AS2's overall made a good accounting of themselves. They can handle 10 to 100 watts with no strain! Although high frequencies were noticeably down a bit compared to the rest of the musical spectrum and somewhat constricted, mids were handled relatively well with good definition although the upper bass had a slightly 'fat' honk sound on voice and lower registers of the harp. This is not to say that the speakers do not reveal certain subtleties in music. They certainly do but not as well as the more expensive ones.
Upper bass overall was smooth and powerful. The lowest bass was incredibly well-defined reaching deep into the lower registers sounding only a bit fat compared to the reference Vandersteen 1C and Bose 301-IV. The very fact that the two small drivers can accomplish this reminds me of the Kloss philosophy.
Changes in tone of the tympani and tom toms were very well defined! The soundstaging was indeed very spacious for a forward radiator with excellent depth and breadth. For the remainder of my listening I put on some of my kids' music and Little Romeo's "My Baby" an updated version of the Jackson 5 hit "I Want You Back" sounded full clear and with plenty of impact and room-shaking bass as the recording itself is a bit on the bright side.
I then listened to various DVD soundtracks and the full audio spectrum was heard pleasingly with proper weight and balance though not quite the equal of the two reference models. Overall, my impression of the frequency response would be that the AS2's are flat from 45Hz to 12KHz with tapering response out to 17KHz and that they produce a somewhat pleasing natural sound.
In conclusion I would say that the Advents would make great home theater speakers with absolutely no need to sub-woofer them. At their price, they must be considered a bargain and one could setup four of them quite economically!
Because of the boost at both ends of the audio spectrum on videos, the high frequencies will do just fine with excellent clarity and the bass will have the thunderous quality you would expect of good home theater. The Advents will match up nicely to a good deal of a/v receivers. This is not to say that they wouldn't perform admirably as stereo only speakers but do purchase a quality amp with extended bandwidth [out to 50KHz or more] and a good amount of treble boost such as the Harmon Kardons to bring out the highs from your library of CD's and vinyl. At least they do not have the phony brilliance that some speakers portray.
The balance between the highs and lows can be significantly improved through proper bi-amplification. The tweeters are actually quite nice and pleasant with generous detail but response is down somewhat when listening through a single amp. Part of the trick in obtaining good sound from a speaker system is to maintain a well balanced sound throughout the audible frequency spectrum.
It is quite conceiveable that one could build a quite respectable sound system by purchasing the extremely low priced Advents and then add separate amps for the tweeters and woofers later on.
One could even take full advantage of the fact that Bi-amplification is an option and with separate power amplifiers bring the unbalanced sound between the lows and highs up to snuff! Superb!
I have to feel that somewhere above Henry is smiling down not only on us but also his former company...Advent. Thank you for your time and God bless you!