Avantgarde Zero 1

The Zero 1 (€9000) from Avantgarde Acoutic wins my award for best Trendspotting piece of kit because the Zero 1 packs up pretty much everything you need minus the source(s) into a horn loaded package. You get a DAC, preamp, and amp with USB, Toslink, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and optional analog inputs stuffed inside a pair of horn-loaded loudspeakers. And I mean loud. The Avantgarde presentation was in German but the Zero 1s easily speak to anyone with ears who cared to listen and I found this room's sound to be among the most compelling and physically vibrant at the show. The Zero 1's speakers are rated at 104dB and their associated amps at 2x 50W for the midrange and tweeters, and 1 x400W for the bass and the combo had no problems filling Avantgarde's very large exhibition room with pulse pounding yet finely nuanced music.

The Zero 1s come in white and black and the latter kind of disappear into the background certainly more than the cherry red Trio Horns.

Zakir's picture

Hi Michael,

I was blown away with all the great active speakers that you featured during your coverage of High End in Munich. It appears that there's yet another ally of computer audio and DACs with an incorporated volume control.

Besides the obvious advantages of saving space and money on components and big boxes, I think the advantages of active bi-amping are the most significant. I think that the sonic improvements of active bi-amping, active speakers and active crossovers offer, could make a separate and interesting section at Audio Stream, and certainly a big plus for computer audio.

There are several manufacturers (such as Adam, Genelec, Emotiva, Dynaudio, Holm, Bryston, etc.) that have been doing a great job with active speakers for studio use, but not so for home use. This appears to be changing rapidly, and I'm certain that this turn will have more to offer than just a trend. It would be interesting to take up the advantages of active bi-amping and what they can offer computer audio and consumers, and to go beyond the strictly desktop and bookshelf sizes.

After seeing all the great active speakers that can be hooked up directly to a DAC with volume control (although there are several analogue volume controls that can be added as well), that feature good dedicated DSP applications, and which can acheive - and surpass - sonic improvements only attainable with expensive monoblocks, it would make great sense to have a section dedicated exclusively to them and their various and valuable sonic advantages.


Michael Lavorgna's picture

The more I think about your suggestion, the more I like it. I will think some more...

Zakir's picture

Keeping my fingers crossed :)

After seeing GENELEC's G series, I just stopped thinking about preAmps, big Power Amps, monoblocks, passive speakers and expensive cables... or selling my car, for that matter. Why not just hook up any of the currently huge bunch of sub $2000 competitive and versatile DACs (like the Benchmark DAC2 HGC, the Anedio D2, the NAD M51, the Bryston BDA-1, the CEntrance DACmini CX, the Cambridge DACMagic 100, the Lavry DA11, the Auralic ARK MX, the T+A DAC 8, the Violectric V800, etc., etc.) to a pair of active speakers, that offer more substantial sonic benefits than much more expensive gear?

Today I discovered the work of a small Swiss manufacturer that's really dead serious about their speakers, and that offer some truly amazing specs: PSI Audio.
They have a pair of floorstanding monitors - the A215-Ms - that could also be just the right thing for my livingroom. There's a whole world of active speakers to be checked out, and fortunately not just studio monitors. I have been looking at Adam's ARTist 6s, which sell for a really reasonable price and feature very respectable specs too, and the HOLM acoustics' SP1s and SP2s, etc., etc.

To have the imaging, soundstage and accuracy that active bi-amping (and tri-amping) can provide, room correction, and the freedom to tweak that accuracy into something more subjective, and at significantly lower cost than a rig with 4-5 components not counting speakers, is just huge benefits and a no brainer. Not to mention that you can use the same speakers to work with as well.

This is by no means a revolution that could pose a serious threat to the conventional gear with a passive crossover in the signal path, but an alternative to those who - like me - have a small apartment, a small budget and other expenses higher up in the priority ladder, and who still want to enjoy an extensive music collection and the benefits of hifi grade performance and audio transparent gear. On the other hand, if a DAC with volume control and a pair of active speakers truly became a revolution, it would certainly have all the good arguments to begin with.