Review of GR Research A/V-1

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by george king, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    Review of GR Research A/V-1

    Preamp:Yamaha 995
    Amp:Rotel 1075
    SACD Player:Sony SCD-CE775
    DVD Player:JVC VBK 500
    Interconnects:BetterCables and Sonic Horizons



    Never audition new equipment, it only gets you in trouble. I have been a long-time Kef fan, and love their sound. Over the summer I heard their new Reference Line, which made my Kef Q series speakers sound terrible. However, there was no way I was ever going to be able to afford the speakers, so the search was on for better sound for less money (aren’t we all?). Unfortunately, my limit is approximately $500/component, excluding a television. After several months of research, I settled on the GR Research A/V-1.

    I bought unfinished cabinets (the smaller ones tuned to 60 Hz) from Brian Bunge at http://www.rutledgeaudiodesign.com/ Brian’s work is stellar, and he is a great guy to deal with. I can highly recommend him. I eventually ordered the A/V-1 Kit from Danny with the Sonicaps upgrade and the BlackHole 5. The cabinets were primered, sprayed with a black textured paint, and then sprayed with a high gloss black paint finish. They look pretty good, but not nearly as good as Brian’s. However, these will eventually (in a year or so) be moved to surround duty and replaced with other A/V-1s in a better finish.

    The speakers currently have approximately 15 hours of playing time. Here are some general comments, to be followed with some specifics. In general these speakers produce a very large, very deep soundstage. Imaging is extremely good. These speakers also put out a lot of very clean bass – especially since they are very small boxes. However, two things immediately struck me. One, these are very quiet speakers. What I mean, is that instruments are clearly separated in space, and the space between them is dead silent. Second, these speakers resolved low level details amazingly well, I am hearing this now that I have never heard before.

    Specific Music in no particular order

    Holly Cole – Temptation and Don’t Smoke in Bed - The Temptation album is great for bass, and highlight the A/V-1s ability to put out clean, articulate bass. The upright bass is clear and tuneful, not one note and thumpy. Listening to this CD was a real treat. On Don’t smoke in Bed, the tune I can see clearly now has a piano riff, that sounded just like a live piano – again it was clear, with just the right amount of decay.

    Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (aka Brudda Iz) - For those not familiar, the late Brudda Iz is a giant (figuratively and literally) of Hawaiian music. If you have seen the episode of ER where Dr. Mark dies, Iz is who was singing somewhere over the rainbow at the end of the episode. The Ukulele is a very difficult instrument to get right because of its slightly off key and plucky sound. On the Kefs the ukulele never sounded right. Here it did – the notes got played, and then stopped – they dynamics were just right.

    Eva Cassidy – Live at Blue’s Alley – This women had an amazing voice, and this was a good test of the A/V-1s midrange. Momentarily waxing poetic – the rendition of What a wonderful world, brought tears to my eyes. The soft gentle tones were moving. This is one of the best and smoothest midranges I have ever heard. Clear, smooth, no chestiness or boxiness. A true joy.

    Diana Krall (SACD) – lots of detail here. The sound of individual bristles on the snare drums was clearly portrayed. The piano, again, was smooth and liquidy.

    Rolling Stones (SACD) – These speakers can also boogey when needed. Gimme Shelter was a real treat, especially with Gracie Slicks singing. You Can't Always Get What you Want was a real eyeopener. The chorus at the beginning was laid out perfectly, and was rather intense.

    Movies

    Well, no real tests here, except that on LOTR: FOTR EE, in the swamp scene with Aragon and the hobbits, the flies really jumped out at you. Again, the low level detail retrieval is really great.

    All in all, this is a great speaker at a reasonable price. Danny has hit a homerun. The rumors on the net are that the A/V1+ is even better, but I do not want to find out at this time. Give these speakers a listen if you get a chance, you will not be disappointed. These seem to be forgiving speakers that are good at everything. However, they tend to be a bit laid back and on the warmish side (which is what I prefer, and why I did not build some Adire Kit81s).
     
  2. Donald_Spry

    Donald_Spry Stunt Coordinator

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    Nice post. I too have the KEF Q-series, and was extremely depressed after listening to their reference line. How would you rate these against your Q?'s in terms of bass, imaging, ect.?

    Congrats,
    DJ
     
  3. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    Donald,

    There really is no comparison. The A/V-1's sound better than the RDM 2, the B&W NT1, Paradigm Studio 20, and the Sonus Faber Concertino. The bass is tighter and better defined, which was a real shocker, as my version of the A/V-1's are the smaller version. Imaging, in the sense of instrument placement is a tad better in the A/V-1, but the space between the instruments is dead quiet with the A/V-1 and this was never the case with the Kef Q's. I have not heard the new XQ line, which is what I initially wanted (but they were too expensive), but I imagine the A/V-1s are competitive.

    The speakers cost about $400-450 with all of the upgrades, which is not a lot of money (although they certainly sound like they cost alot).

    If I can do it (and I have never done anything like this before) you could do it yourself if you can do basic soldering, can use a screw driver, and use a spray paint can. It is definitely worth looking into.
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I don't know if I would say it was better than the CDM-1NT, but it was certainly in a threatening position [​IMG]. I've always liked the CDM line's tweeter though.

    I haven't spent enough time with the Concertino to have a good enough opinon of it yet.

    Midrange and imaging are quite exceptional on the AV1, and price vs performance, it can give some well respected speakers a run for their money.
     
  5. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    John,

    There is the difference then. I never particularly cared for the tweet in the NT line, but I will admit that it has been awhile since I heard that particular speaker. It has been awhile, but I spent a lot of time with the Concertino, and came very close to buying it. Oh well, different strokes for different folks.
     

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