Acoustique Quality Passion Loudspeaker Page 2
With time and the change to a more powerful amp, we felt we could truly begin the proper assessment. So, we buckled down, and for the next few weeks, we started to work thru a couple of dozen songs that we were all personally familiar with from our reference systems. They ran the gamut of musical styles (although, for full disclosure, there was no classical or disco – make of that what you will!).
Now, as the typical Stereo Times reader may appreciate, you put a few audiophiles together in a room, you may get few differences of opinion (especially when they’re musicians themselves!). Although there was some of that, mostly we agreed. If and when we disagreed, it was mainly subtle. To illustrate that point, let me use an example. These speakers proved to have many fine qualities that we unequivocally AGREED on, i.e., they were very lively and dynamic. They played loud effortlessly (providing you have the right amp to show that off). The bass was quick, tight, and well-focused. Up and down the frequency range, the AQ Passions were incredibly detailed.
Like I mentioned, extremely high pedigree drivers. Particularly the tweeter.
The AQ Passion loudspeakers were able to reveal so much in the upper frequencies! We heard low-in-level room reverberations coming off things like saxophones and cymbals etc., with bracing clarity. But, this is where we marked a little differently: was the extremely high amount of perceived detail tonally, correct? I would argue that this is the most contentious question audiophiles end up disagreeing on. My explanation is that when designers put all the pieces together, there is a crossroad when voicing the system. They must balance transient quickness/speed – particularly in the upper frequencies. This is where I think the ear is most sensitive. Some people (and I have been one of them, take note of this bias!) will trade off SOME tonal fullness for perceived quickness/detail. To a point, of course, I am trying to make the case that this is a range, a sliding scale, if you will. As I try to torture this analogy, I benefit from the doubt that I am staying within reasonable norms. God forbid any of us to wander outside of the norm!
Let’s stir the Porridge…
As I have outlined above, we were very much in agreement that the AQ Passion has a lot of attractive qualities (not forgetting, the least of which, it’s physically beautiful. The cabinet is quite dense and inert. It has curvaceous lines that help it sonically but also makes it uncommonly attractive). But there was that one nagging problem keeping us from loving it. The sound it was producing was lacking tonally and causing a tendency towards thinness/brightness/hardness. Was it them (remember AQ describes them as “highly accurate and pristine”), or was it something in the food chain??
What to do?
What any card-carrying audiophile would do is start playing with cables!
AC power cords! How do I love thee, let me count the ways?
We had six or more different brands that I painstakingly moved to and fro between amp, preamp, CD player, and AC conditioner. Each brought a little something to the table. It took time and effort and was painstaking, but it moved us in the right direction. Given the progress that the power cord effort helped facilitate, I thought introducing tubes into the equation may be beneficial in moving us still further towards the deeper, fuller, more relaxed tonality that we were seeking.
Remember, up to this point, we relied on Boris’s Amped solid-state pre and solid-state Class D amp. Their combined personality had to be responsible, at least partially, for the resulting sound. So, I asked Sam to press his Audio Electronics by Cary Audio tubed pre into service. Glad I did because it produced a noticeable impact for the better. Fuller tonally, more relaxed, more apparent dimensionality and size of images and the soundstage those images were populating.
Was there any downside? In this case, we felt there was little to none.
Were the images as sharp and tightly drawn as with the solid-state pre? Not quite, but it was still good and with the plus of greater, more relaxed, fuller tonality from those images.
Sensing a pattern here?
I don’t want it to feel like I’m picking on Meltsner’s AMPED AMERICA amp and pre. I sense that you are getting a lot there for your money for this $8k combo (that includes phono and DAC!). But instead, the takeaway should be that the AQ Passions are pretty exceptional, and you will have to make sure you carefully match them up with components that synergize with their personality.
Will this advice be a revelation to the typical ST reader?
I guess the real point is that the AQ loudspeakers can and will reward your efforts at feeding them the highest quality diet you can offer them. We provided them well enough to make us believe that the AQ Passion is one serious loudspeaker that will easily reside at the helm of a well-sorted-out system. Give Boris Meltsner a call! I’m glad I did!
ed van winkle
Price: AQ Passion $22,000
* system: 3-way
* Impedance: 6 Ohm
* max.noise: 140W
* max. short-time: 220W
* sensitivity: 89dB/1W/1m
* frequency response: 20Hz – 45kHz within 4dB
* crossover slope: 12,6/12,12 dB/oct
* dimensions (w x h x d): 300mm x 1220mm x 440mm
* weight: 55kg
* internal volume: 50l
* System bass reflex
Acoustique Quality Website: www.aqaudio.cz
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