Dynamic and Efficient equals Avantgarde’s
Uno Nano Loudspeakers
by Ernie Fisher
These horns are Avantgarde’s entry-level designs (you
read right) and, unlike the Duo Grosso review elsewhere on
this site, I auditioned them under very controlled conditions — in
my house. Though they are the “smaller siblings” of
the Duo Grossos, smaller here isn’t little.
Well, it’s difficult to ignore even the smallest Avantgarde
designs as each speaker stands 50 inches high with a footprint
of 19.7 inches (w) by 25.5 inches (d). 157 pounds of weight
makes placing these not-so-little speakers a bit of a challenge.
However, with the help of a willing friend, positioning them
appropriately shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.
They are impressive in any colour, but I really loved the
red horns I had on hand for this review. They look stately
and enticing, leaving no one in doubt about their owner’s
commitment to artistic high-end audio.
The standard version of the NANO comes with various metallic
lacquer finishes for the horns. The circular housing tubes
and the three-pillar steel tube frame is powder coated in
black. The rear covers and the subwoofer enclosure are coated
in a high quality NEXTEL finish. Custom finishes are available.
For the auditions, I connected the Wyetech Labs Ruby prototype
single-ended vacuum tube monoblocks and preamplifier (available
soon) and the Audio Aero Classic CD player as source component.
I chose these components, because I consider them high-performance
audio gear. Wiring was done with JPS Aluminata cables and
interconnects — chosen for their high degree of sonic
Once the system was connected, I began operating it for
a few hours every day for about one week. When I felt that
it was at its peak condition, I brought in some friends to
help me “voice” the set-up in my family room.
For the Avantgardes’ high frequency tests, I played
back Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther.” This
CD has the entire Mancini orchestra with horns, woodwinds,
kitchen sink and all — lots of highs for a tweeter
I chose Carmen McRae’s CD titled Fine And Mellow and
Gene Harris’ Listen Here (both Concord recordings SACD1005-6 & SACD
1006-6 respectively) to evaluate midrange accuracy and to
examine the speakers’ ability to communicate timbre
Bass performance was tested with the help of Dorian’s
CD titled The Great Organ Of Saint Eustache (Dorian 90134)
and some of my Jimmy Smith B3 organ recordings.
I soon found that highs were extremely composed and relaxed,
but also ingenuously complete by reaching effortlessly into
the inaudible 20 plus kHz range.
The midrange segments (ranges from 160 to about 1,300Hz)
were as revealing as they should be — that’s
well balanced, not aggressive, able to retrieve inner detail,
but not overly intense or augmenting the domain. That’s
tricky and few manufacturers get it right, as they often
provide a little extra “boost” for those consumers
who like the midrange “hit.” I guess Avantgarde
doesn’t cater to the unenlightened, because they DID
get it right.
I like to divide bass, into three segments: low bass, frequencies
from 20 to 40Hz, mid-bass from 40 to 80Hz and upper bass
from 80 to 160Hz. Most loudspeakers do not reach into the
lowest note on a piano keyboard — 27.5Hz, although
specifications often claim a speaker’s range beginning
at 20Hz. I can tell you that few — very few — loudspeakers
can properly reproduce 27.5Hz. The Avantgardes can’t
get to 20Hz, but will reproduce 27.5Hz. That’s very
good indeed, but I feel that the lowest notes will sound
a little shy of perfect, not quite accomplishing absolute
resolution. Nevertheless, most of the folks I had over for
the auditions didn’t notice any shortcomings, possibly
because they aren’t as hard to please as I am.
I found that the Nanos work well with all kinds of music
as long as the production quality of records or CDs is of
good quality. As indicated above, I put the Nanos to the
test with all kinds of program material using a top-notch
CD player (Audio Aero), an Italian-made Bluenote turntable/arm
with Benz cartridge and Clearaudio phono stage, and a very
nice sounding Magnum Dynalab tuner.
A Bryston 14BSST arrived at my house, right after I had
finished the above. I though I’ll try it with the Nanos
to see what an amp which delivers 600 watts/channel (a virtual
powerhouse) will do. Though the Nanos didn’t use anywhere
near the amp’s power, they responded eulogistically,
allowing the amp’s sonic disposition to emerge. This
leads me to believe that they are compatible with many other
quality solid state amps. However, my own preference would
be a low-powered SE tube job or a Class A solid state design.
What surprised me most was the speaker system’s sound
of the upper midrange and high frequency segments, the range
handled by Avantgarde’s horn-tweeter. I expected a
little aggressiveness, some dispersion constriction perhaps,
but instead of the hit between the eyes, I found the highs
to be a smooth as the best I have heard in the past. That'
s the WLM Grand Viola tweeter when driven with a superb single-ended
tube job. The Avantgardes’ midrange horn, operating
in the frequency band from about 290Hz to 3,000Hz, isn’t
less impressive as it handles voices on a breath-taking,
well-elevated sound stage. These midrange horns are relatively
large, but they handle even the subtlest musical material
with the skill and proficiency of a point-source (a mainly
theoretical energy source, small enough to eliminate directivity).
Consequently, when the midrange is combined with the high
frequency horn, the speakers render not only imaging to die
for, but also allow an enunciated perspective of a musical
When it comes to bass, the Avantgardes have plenteous, ranging
from just below 30Hz to the crossover point you choose (280
or 290Hz). I used my ears to adjust the system so that the
sound from the bottom range to the inaudible integrated seamlessly.
It took a little while to achieve this, as the amplifiers,
crossover frequency, gain as well as my listening room’s
acoustics all play an important role in the set-up. However,
I succeeded to get things right and, with the help of a few
tweaks such as Black Raviolis, premium AC cords and, of course,
high-end connecting cables, the system’s presence evaporated
in thin air. It seemed to me that my auditioning music wasn’t
running through a rather elaborate network of components,
and everything audio was just right on.
This, perhaps, is proof that another scope, the forth dimension,
exists. My belief is rooted in the relativity physical theory,
introduced by Albert Einstein. It discards the concept of
absolute motion and instead treats only relative motion between
two systems or frames of reference. One consequence of the
theory is that space and time are no longer viewed as separate,
independent entities but rather are seen to form a four-dimensional
continuum called space-time.
Notwithstanding my limited knowledge of this science, I
adopted the forth dimension concept to explain the principal
order of high-end sound where the business of audio fades
in favour of the business of music.