A relative newcomer on the HiFi scene, AudioSolutions comes out of the gate producing speakers that are top performers, offering tremendous value.
To be straight up with you, I prefer speakers more in the GamuT, Sonus faber, and Gold Note part of the spectrum. Slightly on the warm side, but still dynamic and resolving. A bit of extra tonal saturation goes a long way with me. So, that’s my bias. If you are looking for a speaker with these sonic characteristics, I can’t suggest the AudioSolutions speakers highly enough. They offer all the qualities I love in a speaker at incredibly reasonable prices. The Figaro M floorstanders you see here are $7,500/pair. Close your eyes, and you might just think you’re in Italy. After about 50 hours of background duty, the first track up is Drab Majesty’s “Foyer.” Hardly the last word in audiophile fidelity, this track offers layers of atmospheric sounds and synthesizers, that in a lesser system, just sound flat and uninvolving. A great alternative track in the same vein is Thomas Dolby’s “I Scare Myself.” I’m sure you have your faves.
The Figaros present an easy load to drive, working equally well with tubes, solid-state or class D amplifiers, keeping their signature sound, but revealing the character of whatever they are plugged into. Mating them with the Boulder, Nagra, and Vitus amplifiers we had on hand for review, the Figaros become more dynamic overall, producing more LF extension and sock. Pass and Luxman provide a bit more warmth with tube amps from Line Magnetic and PrimaLuna even more romantic. With a rated sensitivity of 91.5db/1-watt, precious few amplifiers will be off-limits, but a few vintage amps in the queue were a bit too much of a good thing for this writer. As always, experiment, experiment, experiment to find your little slice of nirvana. The Figaros even turn in an enchanting performance with my PSAudio Sprout II. This was used in the garage after unpacking to burn them in, with a lot of metal tracks being played at a neighbor annoying level.
After a weekend’s worth of parts cleaning, they were ready to move into the studio. The front panel snaps off so you can use them with flush grilles or without – I always love to look at the drivers, so sans grille cloth I say. The flat, speckly finish covering most of the cabinet tends to diffuse the light bouncing off of the Figaros, so they are not as imposing as a pair of gloss black speakers. They are not as fussy to live with as a result. The music lover trying to get as much sound as they possibly can for their dollar will appreciate this approach. Beautifully finished cabinets are wonderful, but they do add to the MRSP. AudioSolutions keeps the cost in check going this route. This finish is certainly easy to keep clean and fingerprint free. Half of the side panels are available in any one of 17 different colors, and you can read about that here.
Free of fatigue
Even after a long string of punk tunes, via the Pass XA200.8s (at a higher volume than is reasonable and prudent) the Figaros prove they can play loud with total control. Listening to Amyl and the Sniffers “GFY,” lead singer Amy Taylor channels Wendy O. Williams, along with a little bit of Lemmy and Yoko Ono, the Figaros are cranked to the point of pain. That’s my pain though, the speakers show no break up even at ear-splitting levels – they play loud with ease. Going back to Yello’s “Vicious Games,” music bounces all over the place. The Figaros create a soundfield that is wide, deep, and tall. These speakers do an incredibly good job at reproducing height information along with the standard width and depth. Same thing, tracking through U2′s debut, Boy. All the tinkly bits float in space, and the Edge’s layer upon layer of processed guitars are all easily decipherable. As you might expect from what I’ve told you so far, vocal and acoustic music is perfection on the Figaros. ABBA’s rendition of “Dancing Queen” is just as much fun as the Yayhoos remake. Yoko Ono’s vocals on “Watching the Rain” are everywhere in the sonic picture. If your musical taste is more traditional, I had an equally engaging time with Ella Fitzgerald.
AudioSolutions claims bass down to 32hz, and while we don’t measure speakers, a quick run of test tones confirms there is plenty of action at 30hz. The trick to getting the optimum setup with the Figaros (at least in my three rooms) was to get them a bit further out in the room than you might other speakers. It’s kind of like when you order shoes and a particular manufacturer runs half a size large. Get it wrong, and they sound uncharacteristically boomy – it’s not the speakers’ fault. Once you have achieved the perfect low and mid-bass balance, play some of your favorite bass-heavy tracks, and you’ll see what I mean. The Figaros deliver solid and substantial low-frequency output. Running through a long playlist of hip-hop, EDM, and even some classic rock tracks with a lot of LF information, all but the most bass addicted end users will probably not need a subwoofer. The Figaros achieve true full range performance. Should your musical taste be strictly EDM and electronica, move the speakers slightly further towards the room corners to pick up a little bit of room/midbass gain and get the party started!
Further tech bits
The black finish is definitely slimming. The Figaros weigh 90 pounds each, so it’s up to you if you’ll need help placing them. They are well packed and easy to unpack without drama. Their footprint is small (44.1 inches tall x 10.7 inches wide and 18.5 inches deep) so they won’t overpower your listening environment. A pair of 7.2-inch woofers, a 5-inch midrange that is run “further than the usual region” and a silk dome tweeter with a mini waveguide make for a full three-way system. Again, it’s important to note what a great job AudioSolutions have done on the crossover network and driver choices. These speakers have a coherence that you’d expect to pay 2-3 times this much for. Even though the speckled finish is utilitarian in nature, the execution of the cabinetry is flawless, thanks to AudioSolutions “self-locking” cabinet. This is a level of detail I would expect on a $50k pair of Sonus faber speakers, but am thrilled to see in a $7,500 pair.
Adding up to excellence
We could go on and on, with this track and that, but the bottom line with the Figaros is the level of music they reveal. While $7,500/pair can bring you a considerable glimpse into the upper strata of high-end speakers, Audio Solutions delivers a masterpiece. In the context of a $10k – $100k system, they’d probably be the last thing I’d upgrade if I did at all. The only key is that if you like this “sound” as much as I do. If you’re more of a mega detail person, these may not be the droids you want. I can’t think of a speaker in the last decade that’s delivered more sonic enjoyment than the Figaro Ms do for $7,500 a pair. Hence, I am happy to give them one of our Exceptional value awards for 2019. This is a lovely pair of speakers without fault, that could easily be the last pair of speakers you buy.
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