Sunday, 28 July 2019 13:39

REVIEW: Arendal Sound 1723 Bookshelf S THX Ultra - The Little Giant Featured

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Two years ago I reviewed Arendal Sound's newcomer 1723 Monitor. These giants now have a smaller brother - 1723 Bookshelf S - and it became impossible to refuse the offer of a test of these as well.

Also this time around we must bring a slightly overview presentation of Arendal Sound, the Company led by this ambitious gentleman Jan Ove Lassesen from Arendal, with whom we had our first contact in 2005, before he started an agency for SVS with the company L-Sound. A few years ago, Jan Ove dismissed the agency for SVS, in favor of the launch of his own speaker label - Arendal Sound. This is a new speaker brand where Lassesen stands for product Development himself. The speakers have a clear orientation towards home theater, which is emphasized by the fact that Arendal Sound simultaneously launched a complete speaker program for all positions in a home theater setup. But this orientation towards home theater must not be misunderstood as these are no speakers suitable for music reproduction. Incidentally, there is a widespread misunderstanding that you have to choose. Because with the quality aspirations Lassesen has set for his speaker creations, it is more "Yes please, both of the aove". And to the extent that he has succeeded in his ambitions we were duly confirmed during the test of Arendal Sound 1723 Monitor two years ago. These are speakers that are defined as standmount speakers, but which together with the custom socket roughens more than most floorstanding speakers I've tested.

My only objection to the 1723 Monitor was that they are not living room friendly. It is not the speakers that you can just smuggle a little discreetly into the living room and hope it is not noticed by your better half. That is why I wanted at that time a slightly smaller, more room-friendly speaker with otherwise the same design philosophy, models that could more easily slip into a furnished home without THX certification.

 

Arendal Sound 1723 Bookshelf S THX Ultra

Either Lassesen has listened to our wishes, or there were several others who expressed exactly the same wishes. Or perhapseven more likely - he has figured out that it could be a market for a significantly smaller model than the 1723 Monitor. In February this year, we were able to announce that a new model has been launched , and at the same time we took the opportunity to accept the offer of a review of these.

The last two parts of the speaker's name reveal that these models are also aimed at a home theater customer group. They may enter the front row of an ambitious home theater, or as side / or rear speakers together With 1723 Monitor or 1723 Tower in an even more ambitious home theater.

Or, as during the test, simply as a formed and cultivated pair of stereo speakers. The surname THX Ultra doesn't hurt anyone.

The Bookshelf section of the name suggests that these are speakers that can easily be placed on a bench, although a couple of good stands placed some distance from the back wall almost always provide better working conditions for a pair of tripod speakers. This also applies to these models. That being said, these are enclosed constructions, so there is no bass port on the back that requires distance from the wall.

An even more resilient placement option is to put them on a pair of 1723 Stand. These were designed to be chassis for the 1723 Monitor, but since the width and depth are identical on the 1723 Monitor and the 1723 Bookshelf S, this should be a good fit. And although Bookshelf S is lower, the treble comes at about the same height as the 1723 Monitor with these sockets. But then it was the story about a discreet, room-friendly appearance. For although the combination of 1723 Stand and 1723 Monitor is elegant, and thus probably also the combination with 1723 Bookshelf S, "discreet" is not the first word entering my mind in that context.

 

Construction

Arendal Sound 1723 Bookshelf S THX Ultra has an unmistakable relationship with the larger Monitor, but at the same time there are quite large differences between the two. Staarting with the similarities, it is evident in the beveled corners, which I could really imagine in the ordinary 90-degree crack on a pair of living room speakers. But I definitely see the sense in continuing this design trait to give a holistic identity in the series. And in addition, we have the moment I mentioned earlier that the speaker thus fits perfectly on a pair of 1723 Stand.

Another similarity between the 1723 Monitor and the 1723 Bookshelf is the treble, a proprietary Waveguide treble based on a 28mm element.

 

Bassen

But there are also quite obvious differences between the two models. Where the 1723 Monitor give you a double 8-inches in the bass, there's a simple 6.5-inch in the 1723 Bookshelf. This must necessarily be reflected in the bass response, and the smallest speakers roll off by -3dB at 65Hz, while the 1723 Monitor passes -3dB at 58Hz with closed ports, and as low as 34Hz when both of the two bass ports are open.

And while we're at the base of sports - this is one of the other points that distinguishes these two models. For while the 1723 Bookshelf S is a closed speaker, the 1723 Monitor is a dual-port bass reflex construction, and it comes with cushions for both ports where you can try your hand with the best response.

The split frequency between treble and midrange / bass is set at 1500 Hz, the same as on their bigger brother.

 

Terminals

Both Monitor and Bookshelf S have a set of formidable terminals. This is a build quality that surpasses the most in this price range. It could certainly have been made significantly less expensive, but I think it's a good investment from Arendal Sound. There are bi-wiring terminals, or biamping terminals that I prefer to call it, where of course you have to remember to remove the straps if you are going to biamp.

The terminal plate is made of brushed aluminum, a choice of material that helps to emphasize the premium feel that the whole speaker exudes.

 

Finish

Arendal Sound 1732 Bookshelf S THX Ultra is available in four different designs. In addition to choosing between black and white, you can also choose between matte and high gloss finish. My assumption is that matte black is the most interesting variant in dedicated home theater, while HighGloss white or black is most interesting in a living room layout. The price is a thousand NOK higher with HighGloss finish, and in my review set I chose white HighGloss.

 

 

 

 

Test Setup

During the review period, this equipment was used with Arendal Sound 1723 Bookshelf S THX Ultra

Vinyl:

CD / SACD:

Streaming:

Amplifiers:

  • Denon PMA-800NE , integrated amplifier
  • Sonos Amp (Streaming + Amplifier)
  • Linn Kinos preamplifier / Linn Chakra (Majik) 6100 power amplifier

 

Test with Denon PMA-800NE

By coincidence, I also had a Denon amplifier in for review when I tested 1723 Monitor two years ago. At that time it was a PMA-2500NE , a fantastic integrated amplifier which at that time cost approx. NOK 22,000, - but which has now increased by three thousand NOK. It was also a great match for the 1723 Monitor, and it is tempting to assume that the same would have been the case for 1723 Bookshelf S.

But this time it turned out to be a significantly smaller Denon amplifier for testing. The PMA-800NE costs only a fifth of the PMA-2500NE, and of course this has some consequences. But while this amplifier is not an equally good match with Arendal Sound's speaker, it provides a useful and somewhat clarifying exercise. Because although great sound is served with this moderate amplifier from Denon, it does not quite manage to take out the full potential of these excellent speakers from Arendal. The bass control is good, but not great. The bass of Helge Lien on his brilliant album 10 does not quite get the steel control and thus the precision that other amplifiers can provide. And it is also possible for the 1723 Bookshelf S to display a clearly greater amount of detail than the PMA-800NE is capable of. But nicely and politely, it plays galore, and with a slightly warm and secluded top. But this was the amplifier, and not the speakers.

 

Sonos Amp

The next amplifier to try out with 1723 Bookshelf S was Sonos' new streaming amplifier - Sonos Amp . The Joker who knows everything, but that's all it kows... It costs a thousand more than the Denon PMA 800NE, but at the same time has several skills on the CV, as a complete streamer and multi-room machine.

Sonos Amp is, in a way, a bit like the Denon amplifier. It has very good control of 1723 Bookshelf S's bass, but lacks quite a bit when it comes to refinement. That being said, you can say that these Arendal standmount speakers are quite revealing, at least if you want the best out of them. They can play nicely from an amplifier costing around five thousand NOK, but if you want them to perform at their best, you probably need to put a bit more money in the amplifier. I say "probably" because of course I've only tried a couple of amplifiers in this price range with the speakers, and since every component matching lives a little on its own, sometimes even unpredictable life, it becomes a good portion of guesswork. And if I'm going to allow myself a little more guesswork, I'd be pretty optimistic if the latest version of Rega Brio got the job of driving these speakers. In other contexts they have shown that they have both sophistication and perspective, and good control in the bass. And even though Brio only has 50 watts to go with, the 1723 Bookshelf S is pretty light load with its 89dB. But as I said, you never know this for sure until you try.

 

Linn Kinos / Chakra 6100

The final stage was to try with my reference amplifier kit, with preamplifier Linn Kinos and power amplifier Linn Chakra 6100. Here everything fell into place, and 1723 Bookshelf finally showed its properties uninhibited, without the amplifier's limitations. And while this is an amplifier set that is starting to approach a six-digit price tag in NOK, I don't think for a moment it is necessary to spend that much money for an amplifier that provides 1723 Bookshelf S full justice. I would, for example suppose a Denon PMA-2500NE will be just as brilliant on these speakers as on the big brother, and yet I would probably assume that amplifiers from around ten thousand onwards will mostly do an excellent job.

After all, there are pretty formidable notions these moderate speakers can convey at an even more moderate price. Perspective is one of the fields where the speakers radiate, and with the right amplifier this is combined with very good and precise detail rendering.

The sound balance is perceived as neutral, and with the exception of the very deep bass, the balance is as good as the larger 1723 Monitor. But there is something debatable in the bass compared to these. On the one hand, I have to admit that the seductive and quite cellar-deep and effortless bass that only an eight-inch or two can deliver is very alluring, I may find that the precision is at least as good in the bass of this 6.5-inch. This is a phenomenon I have experienced also with other speakers as well, and becomes a bit of a choice to make. Regardless, it doesn't seem to be an exquisite bass rendering in both Monitor and Bookshelf S, though they have a slightly different character.

If you are going to use 1723 Bookshelf in a professional home theater setup, it is a natural thing of course to supplement with a subwoofer. Then it is different with a stereo setup, where only exceptionally subwoofers are used, and where 1723 Bookshelf S is perhaps the least of all a tripod speaker that invites to this. For here you have to be particularly pronounced bass freak to miss something in the lower frequencies, even though it rolls off at 65 Hertz. Even without having seen the frequency curve, I dare to assume that it is a fairly slack scrolling curve that makes you content with content significantly lower than this.

 

 

Conclusion

Sure, I have certainly heard even better tripod speakers than these models form Arendal Sound. Both with even better refinement and with slightly better dynamics. But they cost more, usually a great deal more. Because with these latest creations, Arendal Sound has managed to create a tripod speaker that has about as good sound as Big Brother 1723 Monitor, with only slightly different priorities in the bass. And with a look you can take the chance to drop into the living room and show off to the boss in the house. Because let's just admit it - this is still a distinctly boy-speaker.

Incredibly good work down there in the Southern part of Norway - it should not be easy to match the price tag, the great quality feeling and the amazing sound of the Arendal Sound 1723 Bookshelf S THX Ultra!

 

prices:

  • Sort matt: NOK 11.990,-
  • White matt: NOK 11.990, -
  • Sort gloss: NOK 12.990,-
  • White gloss: NOK 12.990, -

Read more about 1723 Bookshelf S THX Ultra at Arendal Sound

Read 4488 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 January 2020 13:00
Karl Erik Sylthe

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