January 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

By now it should be pretty obvious that the Grande Avant Gardes do big, do bass and do imaging. They also do natural and naturally expressive. It’s a particularly impressive overall performance and balance of virtues. It ain’t hard to get big bass out of modest boxes – if you are prepared to accept a crippling electrical load, low efficiency and the sort of constipated dynamics that result in a total failure to emote. The fact that the modestly proportioned GAGs achieve the scale and bandwidth that they do, while neatly side-stepping the practical and musical pitfalls that so often result is testimony to the efficacy of their chosen solution(s). The explanation offered for the operation of the separate bass enclosure is either disarmingly or disingenuously simple – but there’s no ignoring the speakers’ low frequency performance. Likewise, the small, non-parallel and heavily braced cabinet panels suggest a low-storage enclosure, its reluctance to contribute to the sound or interfere with the music ample recompense for the cost and complexity of construction. Building a two-part cabinet this shape is never going to be cheap or easy, but in the end the results justify the means, results that certainly stand out from the crowd. Just listen to a pianist shape a phrase, accelerating through it or pausing for affect and the absence of slurring, lag or hesitation in the notes tells its own story. This is one speaker system where the music doesn’t have to drag the cabinet with it. Instead, performances proceed at their player’s pace, fast or, just as importantly, slow. Unlike a speaker or amp that leans on the leading edge to add pace to proceedings, the Gershmans allow notes freedom of passage, without editing, cropping or giving them a push. This lightness of touch is especially apparent in slow movements, with poise, grace, delicacy and pathos all equally part of the GAGs musical vocabulary. They deliver the full emotional range, whether its expressed reflectively or explosively – and they transition from one to the other with an enthusiastic fluidity that makes most other speakers at this price level sound stilted and constricted. It’s a sure indication that as a design, they are sorted, both electrically and acoustically/mechanically.

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